In case you’ve been stuck in a pancake house for the last three years, donuts are the new “it girl” on the food scene. And Swillerbees Craft Donuts & Coffee Bar in Flagler Beach is on the cake-cutting edge.
Warning: Danger of donut overload when you see the glorious display. The friendly face behind the counter, perhaps owner Shannon Willer’s daughter Sydney, asks for your order. There’s zero judgment as you look up helplessly and beg for more time. We counted about 15 flavors that day.
We took one for the team and went for a full dozen: peanut butter, lemon powder, plain glazed, chocolate glazed, salted caramel, churro, fruity pebbles, cotton candy, lavender, cookies and cream, triple chocolate, thin mint. All were based with a plain or chocolate cake donut.
Let’s talk about the ones that shined: cotton candy, churro and lavender.
I’ll admit, I picked cotton candy as a test. Artificial flavors are easy to mess up—it comes down to the quality and quantity of the essence. Too little, too bland. Too much, ugh. The cotton candy donut is plain cake, bright blue icing and a glittering pink sugar sprinkle top. At first bite, I tripped back to the carnivals I roamed as a kid, when I couldn’t get enough of the flossy pink and blue spun sugar. I dimly heard Shannon (as she kindly smiled at my wonder and awe) tell of a New York woman who knows what she’s doing with essences and flavors.
I had it on good authority that the churro donut was boss—again, I was blown away. A simple plain glazed donut, topped with custard cream and cereal, was the ideal fusion of textures. The hint of cinnamon glaze was yum, but the Mexican cinnamon sugar cereal was the apex of yum. The crunchy cover was like biting into a churro fresh from the fryer, without the guilt.
Last but not least … ta da … lavender. If you’ve been keeping up with Bite-Sized (and you should!), you’ve noticed my thing for lavender. The fragrant flower is the primo ally for savory dishes, cocktails and, yes, donuts. The flavor of Swillerbees’ glaze was just subtle enough to tantalize the tastebuds of a lavender novice, while satisfying someone who enjoys a heavier infusion of the herb.
A mixed box of these gorgeous donuts runs $14, a half-dozen is $7.25. Individually, plain donuts with just a glaze are 95¢ each and artisan donuts with a glaze plus extras are $1.50 a pop. So, yeah, treat yourself to a whole box.
While no one on staff is a beekeeper, Swillerbees stays true to the “bee” part of its name. All donuts are honey-based. When the place first opened, bees would fly in and out, searching for sweets. The bees have since moved on, leaving the sugar and honey for the rest of us.
Baker Shannon, with a background in coffee-roasting, knows her stuff, offering great cold-brew coffee (small $3.25); she’s working on terrific chai (small, frozen $4.50), too.