Miami is famous (or infamous) for its beaches, toned bodies, and hot nights filled with music. But dancing until dawn, then trying to make it through the day requires massive doses of caffeine. Thankfully, the Magic City is home to some wonderful java joints.
From the little walk-up windows of downtown and Calle Ocho serving up dark and sweet cafecitos to cafés where men and women clad in designer duds with designer dogs sip lattes and espressos, Miami has its fair share of coffeehouses, including a growing group of boutique houses that roast, grind, and brew beautiful beans for a cup of Joe that will knock your socks off.
1. All Day
Camila Ramos has lots of coffee cred. The former Panther Coffee director of retail operations, Ramos got her start at Volta in Gainesville. Now, the coffee maven has opened her own spot in downtown with a menu blazing in neon green. Choose a single-origin pour over ($5) or a special drink of the day ($5.50 to $7.50). If you can't decide, opt for a cupping ($9) of three different coffees.
2. Eternity Coffee Roasters
If you love coffee, you owe it to yourself to attend one of Eternity Coffee Roasters' Sunday morning cuppings. Think of it as a wine tasting for coffee, complete with note taking, sniffing, and sipping. Coffee lovers and collectors of knowledge love the fact that the beans they're drinking come with dossiers and pedigrees from small farms in Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Free Wi-Fi and a selection of sandwiches make you want to linger longer. You can also take home beans to experience Eternity every day ($19 per pound).
3. Panther Coffee
Owners Joel and Leticia Pollock talk about their coffees like they were their children. Each one has its own story, most starting with "Once upon a time at a little farm in Brazil or Peru, a coffee plant was born." The Pollocks hand select the beans on buying trips and custom roast them. Panther Coffee is sold to discerning restaurateurs around Miami, as well as in-house. With three locations in Coconut Grove, Wynwood, and South Beach and more to come, Panther is Miami's own hometown coffee company. Coffees by the pound average around $19.
4. Alaska Coffee Roasting Company
Owner Michael Gesser started the Alaska Coffee Roasting Company in — where else? — Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1993. The coffeehouse, which finishes its own fresh beans in a Sivitz small batch roaster, opened a second location as far away as possible from the flagship store — in North Miami. Though this new location is as far away as possible geographically, the philosophy remains the same. Coffee beans from the far corners of the earth — Kenya, Tanzania, Ethopia, Sumatra, and Nicaragua to name a few — are hand selected and roasted on premises. What results is a beautiful cup of coffee at a fair price. Coffees start at $1.50 for a small-brew blend.
5. Café Curuba
Debbie Rabinovici's Coral Gables coffee house (2626 Ponce De Leon Blvd.) caters to people who would rather savor their coffee black than with a ton of "holiday" flavorings. Her single-origin coffees are brewed via pour-over method. Custom ground beans are steeped for precisely three minutes in 18 ounces of hot water. It is this attention to detail that makes this small shop a must-do for a true java hound. Of course, there are lattes and cappuccinos for those that prefer a creamier pick-me-up.
6. Vice City Bean
This industrial looking coffee shop, located at the Filling Station Lofts (1657 N. Miami Ave., Miami) is the project of Roland and Eva Baker, who turned their coffee obsession into a place where java lovers can share in the passion. Featuring Madcap Coffee out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the store offers espressos ($3.25), pour-overs ($4 to $4.50), and cortados ($4). Try a latte ($4.50 to $5) with the shop's own house-made almond and macadamia nut milk ($1 additional) for a change of pace. The shop also features vegan and vegetarian snacks, pastries, and doggie treats.
7. Nespresso Cafe
Is it a café or a shop selling high-end celebrity-endorsed espresso machines? Yes to both. In the front of this futuristic rainbow-colored shop, espresso and coffee drinks are served, along with a limited and expensive light-fare menu. (Grilled cheese sandwich for $16, anyone?) Skip the food and go straight for the coffee. Choose from 16 different crus with notes like spicy, floral, woody, malt, cereal, and honey. You'd almost think you were perusing a wine list with all the talk of terroir, blends, and origins, but the folks at Nespresso want you to become pod people — literally. The entire café seems like a way to get you to buy one of their Euro-styled machines which brew a perfect cup of espresso from exclusive pods. Espressos are around $3.50, cappuccinos and lattes range from $4.50 to $6.50. The machines run from $250 to $2,000.
8. Europa Car Wash & Cafe
We're not sure when the trend of combining gas stations and car washes with restaurants and bistros started, but we're down with the program. Instead of staring at your car while it's being washed, step into Europa's welcoming lounge-like café and order a perfectly steaming cappuccino topped with caramel and whipped cream ($4) while your car is hand-washed (starting at $20). Free Wi-Fi and fresh sandwiches made with Boar's Head products make this a great place to multitask while still getting your caffeine fix.
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9. Segafredo L'Originale
The place to see and be seen on Lincoln Road, this coffeehouse/bar is perfect for watching the world go by with a latte. Beautiful people and their beautiful dogs sit on red velvet couches, sipping on espresso macchiatos by day, and espresso cocktails spiked with booze at night ($7.50).
10. Versailles Bakery
Step back in time to a place where men in guayaberas talk politics over a cortadito. Evaporated milk is added to the extra strong coffee for sweetness and depth ($1.75). Famous for being the place where people gather at every rumor of Fidel Castro's death, Versailles is as close to Havana as most will get for a while.