On a sweltering South Florida day, nothing sends shivers of pleasure into your fingertips and an instant chilly wake-up call to your brain like iced coffee. And when the occasion calls for it, you want the perfect cup of iced brew.
National coffee chains like Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks have been serving iced coffee for decades. Today, you can grab an iced coffee at any one of the double-D's or venti-dispensing coffee shops, most of them sweetened with syrups, too much cream, and a ton of sugar. Sure, the coffee is still cold, but it's brewed using a short-cut method: regular hot drip coffee made at double strength and poured over ice.
If you want the real thing, however, we've discovered something better: real cold-brew coffee.
With cold brew, the coffee grounds are steeped in room temperature (or cold water) for an extended period, leaching flavor (but no bitterness) from the beans for a better brew. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, cold-brewed iced coffee often contains less acid than its hot-brewed counterpart, making it sweeter — and stronger.
While cold brewing is still relatively new at most coffee retailers, several specialty coffee shops have been offering it full-time. And what better way to celebrate National Iced Coffee Day than with an actual cold-brew iced coffee?
Panther Coffee Shop at Stache
109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Visit stacheftl.com.
As of December, Stache 1920's Drinking Den has been opening early — 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday — to serve Miami's Panther Coffee to the Fort Lauderdale locals. The Wynwood-based coffee roaster specializes in small-batch roasting, and serves up one hell of a cold brew featuring Nicaraguan coffee and East Coast espresso blend, among other beans sourced from around the world. The baristas at Stache have had extensive Panther training, and serve it all, from French press and pour-overs, to espresso shots and iced coffee.
Brew Urban Cafe Next Door
537 NW 1st Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Visit Facebook.com/brewnextdoor.
Hidden inside the warehouse that houses the FAT Village's idea agency, C&I Studios, you'll find Brew Urban Cafe Next Door. Since opening last year, the new venue includes seating and tables from the former Brew once located in downtown Himmarshee Village. The spot features a long-wooden bar installed in front of a vintage-style library backdrop, which also functions as a full-liquor bar on Fridays and Saturdays. Here, the real focus is on the day-time drinks, however. The goal: to serve up traditional style espresso drinks and — of course — a proper cold brew.
Warsaw Coffee Co.
815 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale. Visit warsawcoffee.com.
This newly-opened, 3,800-square-foot coffee shop stands as one of the area's most impressive coffee shops and bakeries with indoor and outdoor lounge-style spaces, an on-site pastry kitchen, walk-up and drive-through barista bars, and rentable office "flex" space. Here, coffee is Warsaw's main focus, offering patrons a number of custom fresh-roasted beans prepared by nearby Argyle Coffee Roasters. Expect to find several single-origin picks including an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere Kore, Costa Rican Cerro Paldo, and a Guatamala Antigua Los Volcanes. The drink menu will include espresso shots and the standard selections like Americanos, Macchiatos, cappuccino, and lattes. If you're looking for fresh-brewed offerings, take your pick of various pour-over methods including Clever, French press, and Kalita. For those who like it cold, the cold brew comes in a concentrate that you can take home to enjoy later.
Palm Beach County
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123 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Visit subculturecoffee.com.
Last week, Subculture Coffee cofounders Sean Scott and Rodney Mayo quietly opened their downtown Delray Beach location at 123 E. Atlantic Avenue, next door to Tramonti Italian Restaurant and directly across from Park Tavern. The small shop has indoor and outdoor seating with a front and back patio, and like the original West Palm Beach location, does its own on-site roasting. The coffee bar serves up a classic coffee menu that includes espresso shots, drip coffee, pour-overs, and French press. The cold-brew, made with a special blend of beans custom calibrated by Scott, is one of the best we've sampled. The West Palm Beach location offers the same selections, including juices and pastries, which you can enjoy while basking in the sun at the shop's new outdoor courtyard.
150 N. U.S. 1, Tequesta. Visit oceanacoffee.com.
Palm Beach County's first coffee roaster, Oceana Coffee Roasting, has expanded. The local roaster founded by Scott and Amy Angelo has opened its first retail shop in Tequesta, featuring a conference room that doubles as space for a series of coffee-focused educational courses. The 2,000-square-foot retail shop is in the Fashion Mall plaza is equipped with free Wi-Fi and high-speed internet access, and offers coffee for sale by the bag or cup. Order from the same menu of coffee selections as the previous store (which is still open for service), including pour-overs, espresso, lattes, and more. Most exciting is the shop's newest addition: several taps serving fresh brewed iced tea, locally-made kombucha, and Oceana's own cold-brew.
514 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach. Visit haroldscoffee.com.
Suck it, Starbucks. West Palm Beach's ode to caffeinated beverages is anything but another corporate purveyor of designer coffee. Harold's Coffee Lounge pours a nice cup of Joe with a side of local art and the occasional live music, free WiFi, and locally-made pastries. The cold brew is really something special, though. This specialty shop uses the Blue Bottle Kyoto-style cold-brewing system, a fancy-looking and somewhat costly setup comprised of tall, fragile glass drip towers, traditionally called an Oji machine in Japan. Drip by drip — 48 drips per minute, to be exact — the Oji produces a six-cup batch after around seven hours. Is it better? You betcha. Small batches mean extremely high caffeine content, and just four ounces poured over ice makes for an exceptionally deep, smoky (and caffeinated) coffee experience.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.