Miami's Arts & Entertainment District is in a major transition. The area between downtown and Wynwood is in a growth phase complete with loft-style apartment projects, community markets, and the 37-story Canvas condo being planned. The neighborhood also has a vibrant calendar of events, including farmers' markets, outdoor concerts, and art shows. However, the burgeoning district still houses few restaurants and shops that make a neighborhood feel like a place to call home. The neighborhood's website shows only a handful of shops and restaurants in the swath of land from NE 12th to 19th Streets that makes up the district's boundaries. But that's about to change with the addition of Vice City Bean.
The specialty coffeehouse is scheduled to open at the Filling Station Lofts at 1657 N. Miami Ave. Buildout is underway, with a completion targeted for late fall 2015. The shop will feature a multiroaster program, along with pastries and baked goods from local vendors. The couple behind the project is Roland and Eva Baker, who are turning their coffee obsession into a place where java lovers can share their passion in Miami.
The couple recently moved from Los Angeles to Miami, and after thinking about opening a shop for a half-decade, they decided to finally go for it. "For the past five years and even longer, we saw the coffee scene explode in Los Angeles," Roland says. "When we moved to Miami, the first thing we did was explore the coffee scene. We found Eternity, Panther, and others and felt that the market is on the upswing, but not saturated.
"We wanted to find the right place and make sure it would work. We didn't just want to come in from a new city. But the energy we found here in Miami has been so positive that we want to be a part of that."
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So Ronald, who for years did craft services for movies, and Eva, who works in advertising, set out to find the right location and hit upon the Filling Station Lofts. The space will feature large windows and a coffee bar as a focal point. Unlike Panther Coffee, Vice City will not do its own roasting. Rather, the Bakers will curate some of their favorite coffees from around the world. Their house coffee will be supplied by Madcap Coffee out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Roland says, "We enjoy their products as consumers, and they're bringing people in for training." The shop will also offer coffee from local Florida roasters and microroasters. "We want to support local companies as much as we can." Customers might even see some familiar names like Panther being served at the shop. "We love Panther Coffee," Eva says. "We're there pretty much every day."
Vice City Bean will offer espresso drinks, pour-overs, cold brews, nitro coffees, shakerados, and alcohol-free coffee cocktails. Coffees will also be available for sale to take home, and the café will host weekend seminars in grinding coffees, tastings, and coffee flights.
Asked about the shop's opening date, Roland says he wishes it were tomorrow. The coffee lover — who admits he didn't like coffee for years ("I was drinking bad office coffee and had no idea what good coffee even tasted like") — looks around at the empty space that soon will be filled with machines and cups. "We have a definite vision of how we want Vice City Bean to be: a place that's friendly with great customer service that's about the coffee but not too geeky. After all, in the end, all that matters is if it tastes good to you."