Ten Best Coffee Shops in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
It used to be that a cup of coffee was just that: a paper cup of liquid caffeine. Nothing special, it tasted relatively the same from your local greasy spoon, to your favorite diner. Heck, you'd even suffer through 12 ounces of gas-station sludge if it meant getting your morning pick-me-up.
Today, specialty coffee is quickly becoming the next craft craze, from organic beans and eco-friendly, Fair Trade farms, to small-batch roasting and a whole slew of fancy brewing methods. Take Panther Coffee in Miami, South Florida's very first small-batch coffee roaster. It's paving the way for more spots that offer up the same attention to detail, as South Florida restaurateur Rodney Mayo and the owners of Habatat Coffee Company plot to open Palm Beach County's very own specialty roasting shop off Clematis Street in West Palm Beach later this year.
Sure, Starbucks changed the game with its fancy lattes and complicated ordering lingo. But do they have house-roasted beans and fresh-drip coffee made-to-order? A few spots -- even here in South Florida -- do, however. From the hand-drip cups at Coastars Coffee Bar in Lake Worth, to the banana split latte at Undergrounds Coffeehaus, here's our top spots for the best coffee shops in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
See Also: The Quest For The Perfect Iced Coffee
Not only is it among the best coffee spots in South Florida but in Wilton Manors, Stork's is also at the top of the list for "best" coffee bar with a great gay crowd. With obscenely rich and delicious baked goods, aromatic fair-trade coffee drinks, and fresh sandwiches and salads, Stork's owner Jim Stork -- who served as mayor of Wilton Manors in the early 2000s -- has created a place that all can love. Today, a second Stork's operates in Davie, not far from the airport, at 3325 S. University Drive. No matter which location you choose to visit, the draw here is definitely the coffee. Stork's is known for serving several varieties of coffee daily. As for food: You'll find everything from big, chewy, chocolate-chip cookies to a clever orange-caramel mousse cake.
Located off A1A in Fort Lauderdale, St. Bart's Coffee Co. is a cozy little coffee shop where you'll find a great view of Fort Lauderdale Beach, friendly coffee shop people, and a menu to please everyone in your crowd. It may not serve gourmet beans or make fancy drinks, but what makes this place special is the location and the morning scene. So good, in fact, we voted it Best Breakfast on the Beach, as it serves it up all day long. And good breakfast means good coffee. St. Bart's opened 17 years ago and continues to draw a strong mix of locals and tourists. Here, you can be guaranteed the coffee is always hot and fresh. Just snag a sidewalk table to soak up the sunshine and ocean view.
Where there's tea, there's coffee. When sisters Penny Sanfilippo and Jonny Altobell opened 11th Street Annex in Fort Lauderdale a little more than ten years ago, they wanted a tea house and coffee shop that served everything up right -- no imitations or cutting corners. That means everything from the food to the drink is made fresh and done right. They only serve classic English scones, and butter is imported from Europe, while jams are all-fruit fresh, and the lemon curd and clotted cream are made in-house. Yes, tea is a focus here -- "high" and "low" tea times are served daily -- and the Darjeeling, Oolong, and green teas are all brewed with fresh tea leaves and steeped before being served with proper cups and saucers. But the same goes for the coffee, brewed and ground in-house and made using the finest coffee beans. The variety rotates often, just like the food, which changes daily, offering about six fresh, gourmet choices like quiches or homemade pot pies. One option is always vegetarian (vegan on Wednesdays), and herbs are often plucked from the garden out back.
Coffee District has the neighborhood Starbucks by the tea bags, and that it's located in the Pineapple Grove district of downtown Delray Beach only adds to its hip, unique coffeehouse/beer-bar cool. The 1,600-square-foot shop offers bar and table seating where you can order a variety of hot and cold coffee, espresso, and tea drinks. If you're hungry, there's also a menu of made-to-order paninis, fresh salads, soups, pastries, and gourmet desserts. What makes this place extra-special: There are also about 140 microbrew bottled beers and 16 specialty craft-beer taps, which means you can start here with a cup of coffee and end your day with a glass of coffee porter.
6. The Beat Cup
The Beat Cup in Delray Beach isn't your average coffee shop or café. Walking in, you're not quite sure what it is. An art gallery? Consignment shop? Bookstore? But that's the point. After opening in May 2011, the Beat Cup has undergone many changes and only recently began selling food and Panther coffee. Today, it is what can only be described as a quiet artists enclave that also just so happens to serve some pretty damned good coffee. Delray Beach resident Pablo Sole came to South Florida 15 years ago from Argentina. Growing up in Brazil, he was used to a different cultural scene -- one he longed to re-create here. Today, the Beat Cup serves a short menu of cakes, pastries, salads, and sandwiches that cover both breakfast and lunch, all made from scratch by Sole and his mother. Their specialty: handmade empanadas and a family recipe for savory corn pancakes, stuffed with vegetables or chicken. And what started with a single espresso machine grew to a menu that today serves a variety of Panther coffee drinks, from a regular cup of coffee, to cold-brew iced coffee, iced yerba mate tea, and lattes. Our favorite: the frozen coffee blended with milk, ice, and your choice of vanilla, caramel, or chocolate. Go early: the Beat Cup serves breakfast and lunch only, open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The next time you and your friends get into an argument over which is better -- the double D's or Starbucks -- throw them a curve ball and wager there may not be a cup of coffee better than the one you'll get at newly opened Coastars Coffee Bar in Lake Worth. When co-owners Chris Palacio and Elizabeth Brach opened Coastars off J Street in January in the heart of downtown, part of their vision meant making a cup of coffee that is more than just a cup of steaming hot caffeine, sugar, and cream. To do so, that means using specialty ground coffee and employing a brewing process that we guarantee you won't see happening anywhere else in South Florida. The process begins when your brew "master" weighs and measures the perfect amount of coffee beans for just one cup. Next, a special grind before water -- brought to boil in a kettle to an exact temperature -- is slowly poured until the rich, aromatic liquid fills your cup. The coffee Palacio swears by: Counter Culture Coffee, the shop's signature product. Based in Durham, North Carolina, Counter Culture Coffee globally sources USDA organic coffee cultivated using only sustainable farming methods. At Coastars, it's used to make both hand-drip coffee and espresso drinks.
Coffee snobs looking for an artsy hang and Intelligentsia-brand beans, this is your spot. This eclectic coffeehouse plays the perfect host for painting exhibits and photographer meetups, and it's great for just hanging out. It's also on top of the latest coffee trends. Special-order a siphon brew that results in a beautifully mild cup of coffee. Or be all made-to-order cool with a hand-pour java. And you can always keep it simple with a plain ol' cup of espresso. Get a coffee education while you're here: The well-informed staffers will tell you how a French press creates a unique flavor or how to detect notes of floral, caramel, or toast in your roast. This specialty shop uses the Blue Bottle Kyoto-style cold-brewing system, a fancy-looking and somewhat costly setup composed 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. If this sounds highly specialized, that's because it is. Small batches with extremely high caffeine content means the drink is typically prepared by pouring four ounces over ice for an exceptionally deep, smoky, and light-bodied coffee experience.
Habatat co-owners Sean and Natalie Scott are passionate about good coffee and good people. Originally from the Northeast -- she's from New Hampshire, and he's from Massachusetts -- they longed for a South Florida coffee shop that served a good cappuccino along with a great atmosphere. The idea to open Habatat Coffee developed alongside Habatat Gallery, co-owned by Sean's brother, Jay Scott. "[My wife and I] knew that the South Florida market needed good coffee," said Sean. "We have found that serving coffee that is sourced, roasted, and extracted the way it should be surprises even the most 'blue collar' of coffee drinkers." Habatat has become a local meeting hub of sorts, where people gather to enjoy specialty coffee beans, like the one they serve now from Kochere, Ethiopia, from a single farmer named Mammo Boki. For standard drinks, the shop serves only Counter Culture Coffee and brews using a La Marzocco espresso machine or Chemex and Bonmac for slow-pour coffees. Beans are roasted fresh each week and served in traditional sizes that allow the true flavor of the beans to shine. The most popular drink on the menu: Habatat's own brown sugar coconut cappuccino or latte. Keep an eye out for a partnership of sorts between Clematis Street kingpin Rodney Mayo -- owner of Longboards and Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach and the Dubliner and Kapow! in Boca Raton -- who will join forces with Habatat to begin brewing a specialty coffee. The coffee will be served at each of Mayo's restaurants and will be roasted fresh at a new coffee shop known as Cafe Tabac, opening later this year in downtown West Palm Beach.
Look! Another coffee shop that serves wine and beer. Tucked behind Tarpon Bend off Second Avenue, silver tables and chairs are planted on the sidewalk, while inside plush chairs and half-moon booths offer plenty of space to relax and enjoy whatever you're sipping on. If you're totally nuts, try the "Godzilla." It's 40 grams of protein and four shots of espresso. Or go for the "Electric Shock," a vanilla- and cinnamon-infused espresso topped with a caramel glaze. Here, it's every coffee lover's dream, from the free Wi-Fi to the friendly baristas. And once evening comes along, swap the caffeine for a great microbrew.
If you're tired of corporate drip coffee and want to try a true artisan cup of java, try Undergrounds in Fort Lauderdale. This quaint little coffee and tea shop is like a hobbit hole for the coffee, music and art lover. The walls are lined with local art, and used books are stacked around the room, for sale or for a brief read with tea. A new selection of vegan cookies, snacks, cakes, pastries and brownies are a highlight, but the coffee is what it's all about. Owner Aileen Liptak is offering hot or cold coffee drinks that taste -- and look -- like liquid art. They serve it all, from Thai and Turkish coffee, even bubble (or boba milk) milk tea, coming soon!). Liptak serves one mean banana split latte, and the peanut butter cup, white raspberry, and chocolate espresso are equally delicious.
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