Plenty of people drink coffee.
The National Coffee Association says 64 percent of Americans aged 18 or older consume at least a cup a day. About 79 percent enjoy a cup at home, and 36 percent drink their coffee out and about.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association, 41 percent of Americans drink specialty coffee daily, way up from 14 percent in 2001. Translation: A growing number of people are no longer settling for the gas-station sludge that’s been sitting there for days or whatever coffee is served off the menu.
So what exactly is “specialty coffee” when it comes to a cup of joe? In a nutshell, it means using the highest-quality beans, roasted to their greatest flavor and then brewed to perfection using everything from batch-brew equipment to popular pour-over brewers such as the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, AeroPress, and Chemex.
In layman’s terms: It’s good coffee brewed by people who care about the entire process, from plant to cup.
The best way to understand specialty coffee isn’t to read about it — it’s to get out there and drink it. Try different beans from different places made via different brewing methods.
Whether you're a coffee aficionado or a novice who wants to experience a genuine coffee “wow" moment for the first time, here are five spots that will always serve you a memorable cup in South Florida:
1. All Day. This downtown spot doesn't roast its own beans, but it sources some of the absolute finest coffees from around the world. On any given day, you can find fruity Ethiopian or caramel-sweet Colombian single-origin coffees and blend selections from the likes of Ruby Coffee Roasters (Nelsonville, Wisconsin) and Little Amps Coffee Roasters (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). The beans are brewed via a Kalita Wave, and your cup of joe ($5) is served on a gold platter. Each week, the All Day crew blind-tastes coffees from all kinds of roasters and selects the top brews to ultimately purchase and deliver to the people. All Day also offers a coffee taste test, called “cupping,” so you can try three of their offerings at their bar for ten bucks.1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-699-3447; alldaymia.com.
2. Wells Coffee Co. The booming Flagler Village in Fort Lauderdale is being called the next Wynwood. The cozy, beloved roastery fueling that buzz is Wells Coffee. Its partnerships in the community are growing — the shop provides roasted beans to the likes of nearby Brew Urban Café. But before you venture out to enjoy Wells’ goods elsewhere, enjoy the experience at the HQ. Pour-over offerings ($4.50) typically include a mind-blowing, naturally washed Ethiopia Hambela, Horizon Handcrafted blend (with beans from Indonesia and East Africa), or whatever the Wells crew has recently sourced and roasted. 737 NE Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-982-2886; wellscoffees.com.
3. Blue Bottle Coffee. Miami got its first Blue Bottle Coffee in October 2017; then one opened at Aventura Mall in 2018. It can be argued that Blue Bottle, which was founded in 2002 in Oakland California, has lost a bit of its original charm since Nestlé acquired a majority stake in the company last year. But there is no denying the quality of the coffee it creates. Its limited-release, single-origin blends have included a peachy El Salvador Aida Batlle Kilimanjaro and the Panama Finca Santa Teresa Zorro Gesha. Its Giant Steps blend — composed of beans from Uganda, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra — is always a cocoa delight delivered via the company’s custom dripper ($3.75 and up). 3818 NE First Ave., Miami; 510-653-3394. bluebottlecoffee.com.
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4. Panther Coffee. Owners Joel and Leticia Pollock have poured their hearts and souls into each single-origin coffee or blend, and you can taste it. Sure, you can drink the cold-brew blend all day, and the 1985 espresso in beverages galore is magical, but their single-origins from Finca La Amistad in Nicaragua and Fazenda Furnas in Brazil are a coffee purist’s heaven. In terms of brewing methods, Panther’s
5. Eternity Coffee Roasters. Since 2011, the roastery/shop has sourced green coffee from across the globe, roasted it daily, and delivered it to the masses. Over the years, Eternity has blossomed with an expanding menu and a number of single origins available at Whole Foods locations. At its shop, you can enjoy its La Eternidadfrom Colombia via pour-over, as well as coffees from the likes of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Burundi ($2.75 and up). The shop takes pride in doing farm-direct trade and even has a seed-to-cup experience with a family-owned farm in Colombia, meaning Eternity's owners are involved every step of the way, from growing to brewing. 117 SE Second Ave., Miami; 305-350-7761; eternitycoffeeroasters.com.