30A Prime Interview with ‘Wild Root’ in Panama City Beach
My desire to live a healthier lifestyle put in motion a search for places along Florida’s Emerald Coast that are dedicated to helping people. After conducting extensive research one place, in particular, kept popping up on my screen… Wild Root
Located in Panama City Beach, Wild Root is a place I’ve probably passed dozens of times never actually realizing it was there as it’s a little tucked away- off of Richard Jackson Blvd. If you’re not looking for the “Lotus Cafe” sign (an entirely different business) you might drive right past it, as I did on the day of our interview. That would be unfortunate because Wild Root is a beautiful plant and sundries boutique that just so happens to also have one of the coolest coffee bars I’ve ever seen. I’m so grateful that Eric and Chandra agreed to share their unique story with us…
Wild Root Panama City Beach, Florida
I parked in the lot on the south side of the Zen Property. Having never been there before I cautiously followed the signs that said, “This way to the Lotus Café.” I felt like I was walking into a jungle adventure as I strolled over the stone pathway through an amazing garden which led me to the Wild Root shop.
The boutique shop is an eclectic collection of boho and oddity styled accessories, items, medicinal herbs, salves and much more. In addition, you’ll find beautiful art pieces, purses from local artists, gemstones, and terrariums. They carry local honey which is a big seller for them. The honey is also used to sweeten drinks at the Wild Root Coffee and Tea Bar adjacent to the shop.
As I looked around Eric welcomed me to the store and gave me a tour of the shop. We then headed to the Wild Root Coffee & Tea Bar that is unlike any other coffee/tea bar I have ever been to. Before diving into the sit-down interview, Eric made some iced coffee drinks for his family as well as our cameraman Adam to demonstrate his barista skills.
Wild Root PCB Shop Early Days
Eric told us that he once was an architectural photographer, but when the economy went downhill in 2008 the first thing to be cut was his position. He then transitioned to wedding photography which he currently practices aside from owning Wild Root with his wife Chandra. In fact, that’s how they ended up starting Wild Root.
The couple needed an office for their photography and design related businesses so they rented out a small space in the building with the Lotus Cafe. They both had always shared a love for plants, herbs, and art so they decided to put a small shop in the front of their office and it grew organically. Eventually, they were able to obtain more space for the Shop and they decided to add on the Wild Root Coffee and Tea Bar. The business has evolved to match the demand and their new environment.
Wild Root PCB Coffee and Tea Bar
Eric had previously worked at Amavida which is where he gained the knowledge necessary to operate a coffee bar. In fact, he told us that the folks at Amavida helped him with the initial compilation of Wild Root Coffee Bar. In addition to amazing coffee, Eric focuses on tea elixirs that Chandra has concocted. Chandra is an herbalist and explained that she’s always been into permaculture and growing her own food. However, the medicinal side of herbs is what interests her the most. Chandra has used her herbal knowledge to come up with all different types of fantastic elixirs.
I asked her about one such elixir that caught my eye titled “Calm”. The herbs in it are Peppermint, Chamomile, and Catnip. That’s right Catnip! That’s the ingredient that sent a smile to my face and I had a whole lot of questions about it. I asked Chandra, “Is it safe for humans to ingest Catnip?” She laughed and told me that it’s safe for everyone and that it has the opposite effect on humans as it does on cats. Chandra went on to tell me that in fact, Catnip has a calming effect on people and it works like the popular supplement L-theanine. “Calm” is a delicious beverage and Chandra swears by it!
I also learned that one of Wild Root Coffee Bar’s top sellers is the Honey Latte. Made with fresh local honey, it’s a favorite among customers. In addition to coffee, they have a ton of tea choices that are sure to satisfy everyone. It’s a place I’d have to go to every day for a year to try the whole menu.
Wild Root Tea and Me
Our interview ended and Eric invited me to try any of their drinks. I like coffee but was more curious about their tea blends and elixirs. I noted that they also offer Ceremonial Green Tea Matcha. I took Japanese Language and Cultural classes in high school and college so I definitely know a thing or two about teas. I asked Eric specifically about green tea and he went on to tell me there are actually two types of Green Tea… One blend is from Japan and the other is from China. The Chinese green tea is more bitter and I chimed in, “The one from Japan has more ECGC in it.” ECGC is the ingredient in Green Tea that helps with weight loss. Needless to say, after I stated that I think Eric realized I was a tea connoisseur.
We spoke for a while longer about the different types of teas he offers and I got to smell how wonderful they were. Then Eric offered to make a Tea Elixir and that got me really excited because it’s something you truly can’t get anywhere else! It is unique to Wild Root. Feeling adventurous I said, “I have never tried Catnip before. Let’s try the Calm one.”
I let it cool as we said our goodbyes and the couple left for another meeting. The Calm tea elixir was absolutely phenomenal! It had a unique taste, but the peppermint really exploded my taste buds. It was definitely calming and I slept super well that night!
Wild Root Medicine Making Classes
Chandra enjoys sharing her knowledge and does so by teaching classes every so often on Terrariums, Medicinal Herbs, and much more. If you’re interested in one of these workshops go to their website… WildRootLife.com
There you’ll see the schedule for upcoming classes and can make arrangements to attend.
Overall, Wild Root is an absolute gem located in the heart of Panama City Beach, Florida. When you’re there, you forget that you’re in a city and it feels more like being in Costa Rica or Hawaii. Wild Root is the perfect place to escape, sip great coffee, look around the shop and take in the beautiful Zen Garden.
Thank You again to Eric and Chandra for having us out and sharing their beautiful establishment with us!