For Ryan Hall, one of the roasters at Wynwood’s Panther Coffee, opting for the better cup of coffee is a no-brainer. “For us, the challenge is to create a product that is excellent. That is complete. It’s not an unfinished product that we’re passing along for the consumer to fix,” he told us in a recent interview. He’s referring to the brew-by-the-cup options that a surprisingly small number of shops around Miami serve, but that ultimately yield a superior cup of joe.
Pour-over, siphon, and even Kyoto-style drip coffees that take up to eight hours to make aren’t exactly new, even in Miami, but they also don’t make up the majority of what people are ordering. Customers looking for a heightened drinking experience, featuring single-origin beans, precise water temperatures, and the complex flavors akin to a well-aged wine will have to wait. Specialty brews can take up to four minutes to produce, considerably longer than it takes to flick a lever and pour some coffee.
It’s the wow moment, though–that first sip full of flavors and aromas–that makes the wait completely worth it.
Brewing coffee one cup at a time at Panther Coffee
“[Customers] see this thing created in front of them and they’re a lot less likely to add cream and sugar. That comes from the barista and the posture that they have when they’re making this cup of coffee, the professionalism. They’re making that consumer think twice about what they do with it when they receive it,” Hall said, speaking of the shift in a client’s mind. “It makes them say, ‘What do I do next with this cup of coffee? I’ve never had this experience.’ Which is cool because it breaks habits and routines that are very hard just to break with a regular cup of coffee.”
As mentioned, there are a small handful of shops where you can discover those wow moments. Downtown, at either location of Juan Valdez, you can get a taste of Colombia’s terroir with three different brew-by-the-cup options that range from $2 to $4, depending on the method. For the last three years, Eternity Coffee Roasters has continued to exclusively serve pour-over coffees, in addition to espresso based-drinks. There’s also Panther Coffee, which has become a pioneer in Miami, bringing their specialty brews to restaurants all over town.
“This whole scenario of specialty retail coffee is becoming trendy. More and more people are willing to take the extra time to ask the questions. It’s the people come in and want to ask questions,” Hall said, hopeful that with time, more clients will ask more of their barista.
Karen Tuvia of Alaska Coffee Roasting with her steampunk machine
Up in North Miami, Karen Tuvia, of Alaska Coffee Roasting, has opted out of filters altogether, with the installation of her new steampunk machine. A large black box with four tubes and levers on the bar side, for Tuvia, this is the best cup of coffee in Miami. “This controls temperature. We can control every step of this process. It’s a different kind of system, and it brings the oils and fats into the coffee. With a paper filter, you lose a lot of that,” she told us, while extracting an Ethiopian brew that had incredible hints of jasmine. No milk and sugar, please.
Specialty coffee ready to be brewed at Panther Coffee
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No matter how you take your specialty brew, there’s a better cup of coffee to be had in Miami. “What other than coffee is a product that we willingly buy that we know is broken? We hand over our money, we get this cup of coffee, that we know is not right yet, and we need to turn around and go fix it with some cream and sugar,” Ryan Hall said, answering just why someone might be willing to wait, and perhaps pay more, for something that is nearly perfect.
Tomorrow, instead of rushing out the door and insisting on the regular coffee, black, with a bunch of cream and sugar, you might try heading out the door just three minutes earlier. Start off with a superior cup of coffee, and you don’t know where the day will take you.