Restaurant Review #184: Water Witch Coffee (Highlands, NJ)

It was really the perfect day when I think about it. I worked out on Sandy Hook with an awesome group of fourth graders on a beautiful morning, and then ended the day grabbing lunch at this nifty little spot. I had driven past the Water Witch Coffee and Tea Company numerous times. I’ve known about it for years and have seen friends checking in on social media. Justin and I were looking for another new place to try. This came to mind, and we headed on over. Upon walking in, I noticed the atmosphere and decor to be wonderfully odd and eccentric. A fine line between hipster and nostalgia, but nailed perfectly

The tables and chairs are all mismatched. We sat at a retro metal table with metal chairs. Next to us was a wooden table and chair set. A couple sat by the window playing chess while drinking their coffee. The walls were adorned in funky, colorful, and loud artwork. The back room, empty because of the time we were there, had couches and a set-up for live music. I didn’t have to eat anything to know I would like this place. It seems like a fun place to relax and hang out.

I had no idea how many food offerings they have. I always assumed it was a place solely for coffee and light snacks or baked goods. But they have plenty of sandwiches, breakfast dishes, and paninis. Being hungry after four hours of seining in the bay and teaching children about marine life, we both went for the “Jeff’s Vibe” panini. This consisted of turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, and a sriracha mayo. For drinks, Justin went with a cold brew and espresso shot while I asked what the go-to coffee was here and was told the Jersey Shore breakfast blend. I got that.

Both coffees were delicious. Mine was mild on the palate, the perfect way to start the day (or finish it off, apparently). Justin’s cold brew was just as good, and even more refreshing. Next time, I would go with that. We had plenty of time to enjoy the coffee as we waited for the food to come out…and waited..and waited. Therein lies the only major criticism I have for the Water Witch. It took nearly 25 minutes for us to receive our two paninis. There was no one in the place when we arrived, and one person ordered after us. They got their meal first. The order of service does not bother me, because some meals of course take longer than others. But nothing in our sandwiches had to be cooked (unless the bacon was not already done, as is in most cases), just pressed.

As for the food itself, it was good. I enjoyed mine more than Justin did his, but it hit the spot. There was ample fresh turkey, plenty of bacon, and melted cheddar cheese slathered all over. I was impressed by the sriracha mayo, as it actually was spicy. The panini was also pressed perfectly—it crackled and crunched with every bite. Unbeknownst to us, the sandwiches were supposed to come with bagel chips. However, after assembling Justin’s, they ran out. His plate was filled with the fragments and crumbs you would find at the bottom of the bag. To me, they gave two orange slices. They would have been better off giving us both orange slices at this point. This is not really a complaint but it is a bit odd to have chips of bread served with a sandwich in the first place. How about a change to kettle or tortilla chips if they want to go a different or more stylish route?

I would certainly go back to Water Witch. The service was incredibly friendly and pleasant. You could tell they enjoy their jobs. If not for the long wait and strange choice of a side, this place would have scored higher. For now, they get a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is not bad at all for a coffee shop. I am looking forward to another visit. Maybe a bagel and lox next time and definitely cold brew…

This business is located at 67 Waterwitch Avenue in Highands, NJ.


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