SwitchBox Coffee Roasters Opens in Oakland Park With $30,000 Espresso Machine

SwitchBox Coffee Roaster barista Ricardo "JR" Vargas
SwitchBox Coffee Roaster barista Ricardo "JR" Vargas
Photo by Nicole Danna

A new coffee roaster is celebrating its grand opening in Oakland Park July 2. The new business will be hosting a daylong party from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with free Fourth of July-themed barbecue eats, specials on select coffee drinks, and complimentary beer samples from nearby Funky Buddha Brewery. 

SwitchBox Coffee Roaster cofounder Brian Protsman isn't new to the coffee biz. A skilled artisan, he's been roasting for over a decade — a career he began right here in Deerfield Beach in 2005.

"I was working for a local company that went on to become one of the nation's first online coffee roaster retailers," says Brian. "Even then, I knew I wanted to open my own coffee roasting business, but it wasn't the right time for it here."

Instead, Brian and his wife, Miriam, relocated to Denver, Colorado. There, Brian began working with one of the city's many artisan roasters. Over the years, the couple kept a watchful eye on the South Florida scene, waiting for the right time to bring their skill and knowledge back to Broward County.

"The craft coffee scene is saturated in places like Colorado, Seattle, and Portland. Given that we're originally from here, we felt now was the perfect time to come back," says Brian. "There are a lot of good coffee shops and roasters here already, and we're looking forward to being a part of that community."

To do so, the couple chose Oakland Park's up-and-coming downtown Culinary Arts District to debut their concept. The district, launched in 2011, is part of a strategic plan to kickstart the development of the commercial area along Dixie Highway just north of Oakland Park Boulevard. Nearby projects in the works include Stork's Bakery, the Urban Farming Institute at Jaco Pastorius Park, Allied Kitchen & Bath, Agora Market Place, and the Oak Park Project (a European-style central market with more than 15 vendors).

SwitchBox Coffee Roaster co-owners Brian and Miriam Protsman
SwitchBox Coffee Roaster co-owners Brian and Miriam Protsman
Photo by Nicole Danna

Now, there's a craft coffee roaster as well. Built as a work space and coffee shop in one, the design features reclaimed wood sourced from North Carolina, hand-built and vintage furniture, and an open, urban-chic design.

Switchbox is among the area's growing number of specialty roasters to open in the past several years, including Fort Lauderdale-based Argyle Coffee Roasters and Calusa Coffee Roasters; Subculture Coffee, with locations in Delray Beach and West Palm Beach; and Oceana Coffee Roasters in Tequesta.

Most importantly, there's the coffee. For Brian, there's more to a good cup of joe than how it's brewed. There are also factors like the type of bean, how and where it's grown, and the type of roast as well as how it's ground. For this seasoned roaster, those final steps involve a unique combination of graphs and data points, training and experimentation, science, and — of course — his natural intuition for determining the right color and smell of the finished bean.

"I like a light to medium-body roast," says Brian, who roasts with a Probat Roaster. "I feel that allows the bean's flavor to shine the best, while dark roasting can cause a lot of those subtle flavor nuances to fade."

As SwitchBox's head roaster, Brian will source micro-lots from farms he selects in South and Central America as well as East and South Africa. Each week, expect SwitchBox to have anywhere from three to five single origin coffees, which will rotate with the seasons and availability. Two espresso blends will offer a more consistent flavor profile, adds Brian, which he describes as bright, sweet, and chocolatey. Each roast will be available for retail purchase or as beverages.

SwitchBox Coffee Roaster cofounder Brian Protsman and his Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle VA 388
SwitchBox Coffee Roaster cofounder Brian Protsman and his Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle VA 388
Photo by Nicole Danna

The 2,300-square-foot shop will allow patrons to order traditional hot and cold coffee beverages, including the house cold brew on nitro tap. You can get a near perfect cup of coffee, says barista Ricardo Vargas, thanks to the shop's "James Bond of espresso machines."

Upcoming Events

He's referring to the brand new Nuova Simonelli‘s Victoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle espresso machine, also the official machine of the World Barista Championship. The machine features built-in scales and technology that allows its user to program the temperature of each individual group head, the pressure, and the volume of water by weight. 

Nearby, a roomy eight-seat, half-circle slow-brew bar gives customers a different type of experience. Here, they can belly up for a Chemex, Kalita Wave, or AeroPress coffee — fancy names for different pour-over brewing methods that allow baristas to calibrate each cup of coffee to various customer's taste preferences. (Tea lovers: A Hario Tea Globe for slow-brewing loose leaf tea is also available.)

"My goal is to make a beautiful cup of coffee," says Brian. "The more roasters that come to South Florida, the more good coffee will become the norm. The more the merrier."

SwitchBox Coffee Roasters is located at 3446 NE 12th Ave., Oakland Park. Visit switchboxcoffee.com.

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.


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