"We're on different sides of the coin," Joel says. "Instead of being elitists or snobs, it's more like, listen, we are all coffee people. We just know where our coffee comes from."

Indeed, sourcing is what takes Panther to an elite level. The Pollocks often visit their producers, such as Grupo las Cuchillas in Nicaragua. The coffee shop showcases information sheets about growers. Panther wants the journey from farm to cup to be entirely transparent.

Despite the critics, the Pollocks claim they're well grounded. "We've changed a lot of people's minds about what coffee really is and what it can be," Joel says. "We're kind of like stewards. It's important to keep a realistic view of what we do. We're not changing the world; we're making coffee."

Sourcing takes Panther to an elite level.
Sourcing takes Panther to an elite level.

Location Info


Panther Coffee

2390 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33127

Category: Restaurant > Coffeehouse

Region: Midtown/Wynwood/Design District

Panther Coffee

1875 Purdy Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: South Beach


Panther Coffee

305-677-3952; panthercoffee.com
Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Panther Coffee's next Tridays will take place Friday, June 28, at 7 p.m. at the Wynwood location.

See the slide show "Closer Look: Panther Coffee in Wynwood."

At the Tridays competition, however, making coffee is fine. But slurping coffee is what really matters.

The night's tastings include a West Coast espresso blend — characterized by a "tangerine sparkle" and "biscuit-y finish" — and a Rwanda single-origin that's described as "crystal-clear." All are far from the smoky, burnt aromas of a neighborhood Bustelo. But spotting the odd cup out is a serious challenge. Even seasoned baristas fail.

Baxter's loud slurps propel him to round three. McCoy loses in the first. A tourist beats Panther's store manager. (I tied with some dude named Danny, but he finished faster. He advanced. I didn't.)

After six long hours of strenuous — possibly drunken — competition, my freckled colleague, Miller, won the $200 pot. The victor tipped the baristas and spent the rest of the cash on a new mattress. Now he owes me a drink. Let's make it a double espresso at Panther. But please, no slurping.

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