Axum Market Café Makes Its Mark at the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA

For Global Poverty & a Healthy Southwest!

by Kirsten Harrington

Whoever thought that eating a Southwest Breakfast Pizza or sipping a hazelnut latte in Orlando would help orphans in Ethiopia? Or that savoring a spoonful of banana ice cream could calm an aching hip? Both goals — addressing global poverty and fighting chronic disease through healthy eating — are at the heart of the new Axum Market Café in the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA.

091516foodieThe Axum Market Café in the DrPPhillips YMCA opens this month.

The café, set to open this month, marks the eighth location of Axum Coffee and House Blend Café — a collaboration of Renaut and Brooke van der Riet, Josh and Kelly Taylor, and Mathias and Suzanne Bernal. One hundred percent of the net profits go to causes that make a direct, positive impact on people’s lives.

“Some of the things we are passionate about are feeding people in need, the homeless, orphan care and adoption, clean water and [preventing] human trafficking,” Josh said.

Axum Market Café is also poised to have an impact on the health of local residents by offering breakfast, lunch and dinner items that are designed to deliver optimal nutrition with maximum flavor.

“This is really the first café of its kind in a YMCA,” said Gary Appelsies, director of healthy eating for the YMCA of Central Florida. “We are helping to address chronic disease and illness by teaching people how healthier eating can help them on their journey to wellness.”

The café serves smoothies, oatmeal, pizzas, salads, wraps and baked goods. Power bowls are a mainstay of the menu, from which customers choose a base (seasonal lettuce, sweet potato mash, veggie quinoa or brown rice), select some veggies and protein (salmon, chicken or quinoa), and then top it off with various sauces like chipotle honey vinaigrette or basil pesto. Coffee fans can enjoy drip coffee and espresso, including Heavenly Toffee and creme brulee-flavored lattes made from beans roasted at Axum’s Plant Street Market location.

In a commitment to freshness, the café grinds whole grains to make flour for scratch pizza crusts and muffins, and sources ingredients as locally as possible, some of them from local farms. Herbs like basil, thyme and cilantro, along with peppers, onions and garlic, are used to infuse dishes with flavor. Even the desserts, like banana ice cream and chocolate cherry quinoa bars, are guilt-free.

“It is possible to make food taste great and still be great for you,” Josh said.

By keeping most meals in the $6-$10 range, the café is an affordable alternative to fast food. Busy families can order ahead and take home a nutritious dinner for four for $29.95.

“Excuses people give [for not eating healthy] are convenience, cost and taste,” Josh said. “We want to be able to help people with all three of those. The word ‘healthy’ tends to communicate bland and dry. We want to help people change their minds.

“The common restaurant industry formula that ‘fat equals flavor’ is a myth. It is freshness and the use of herbs and spices that count, not fat and sugar.”

“We are really excited about creating convenient and healthy options for our members,” said Gary, who plans to offer poolside delivery from the café and the option to place an order directly from the gym using the equipment’s technology app. “That way lunch will be ready when you’re finished working out.”

While the emphasis is on convenience, the café has an inviting area to enjoy lunch with a friend or linger with a smoothie after a workout. Since it is open to the public, Axum Market Café also serves as a community gathering spot.

Josh and Gary share the same goal of teaching people to eat healthier.

“We want people to understand why it matters,” Josh said. “One of the areas we are passionate about is helping people be good stewards of the bodies they are given. Our bodies are capable of amazing things if we treat them right.”

The electronic menu board features “food fight slides,” which help educate people on how to make healthy eating choices. The café’s website,, contains a “learn” section with articles and videos about the importance of good nutrition.

“The glory goes to God in all of this,” Josh said. “We’ve been super blessed with an amazing team of servant-hearted leaders who are passionate about changing the world.”

Axum Market Café is located inside Dr. P. Phillips YMCA at 7000 Dr. Phillips Blvd. in Orlando. For more information, including hours, menus and online ordering, visit on the web.💓



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