Best of Broward / Palm Beach

12 Best Independent 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 whether it was from your local greasy spoon or 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, all that's changed. Specialty coffee is quickly becoming the next craft craze, from organic beans to Fair Trade farms to small-batch roasting to a whole slew of fancy brewing methods.

In South Florida, you could say it started with Panther Coffee in Miami, the region's very first small-batch coffee roaster that paved the way for more like-minded spots. More locally, in Palm Beach County, new wave coffee hit at Oceana Coffee Roasters in Tequesta, where with house-roasted beans and fresh-drip coffee are made-to-order. 

Today, there are even more specialty coffee spots. From the slow bar at newly opened SwitchBox Coffee Roasters in Oakland Park to the fresh-roasted beans at Subculture Coffee in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach, here are our top spots for the best coffee shops in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

12. Harold's Coffee Lounge
509 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-833-6366;
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 meet-ups, 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' 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 flora, 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.

11. The Seed
199 W Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton; 561-430-5640;
Business partners Carly Altier and Monique Huntington are the founders of The Seed, a Boca Raton business that is one part juice and smoothie bar, and one part third wave coffee shop (a term that refers to a focus on producing a higher-quality, handcrafted product similar to the idea behind crafting boutique wine or microbrews). The Seed opened at the end of November 2014, partnering with Boca Raton-based Wells Coffee Company, which roasts in-house to produce the eatery's own line of micro-roasted beans. Offerings include single-origin and specialty blends, and rotate often according to bean sourcing. At The Seed, patrons have the option to order from the "slow bar" where they can have their coffee prepared using alternative brewing methods including pour-overs like Chemex and V60, or aero press. What something more classic? The full menu offers classic drip, cold brew, espresso, lattes, cortados, macchiatos, and cappuccino. The real treat is the cold brew coffee (ground bean soaked for 12 hours) on nitro tap, or the house brewed tea that's chilled and naturally sweetened.

Check out: Guide to Independent Bookstores in Broward and Palm Beach

10. Atelier 3
1901 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-505-3843;
Rather than relocate their Wynwood-based production studio within the Miami neighborhood, Leo Anato and his wife Maricel Zambrano found the perfect space in downtown Hollywood off Harrison Street. Their coffee shop, which opened about three months ago, looks more like a loft-style living room than a shop. Anato says he designed it to be inviting, which explains the mismatched couches, tables, chairs, and wall decor that together create a cozy and comfortable space. On the menu, find light bites like finger sandwiches, croissants, cookies, muffins, cakes, and small pies. Besides a full menu of hot and cold coffee drinks, the cafe also makes mimosas, which are available all day, every day. 

Check out: Atelier3 in Hollywood Is a Coffee Shop, Community Workspace, and Production Studio

9. Sip Java Co.
638 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-990-5597;
Sip Java Co. opened off Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale last December and has since been serving up a large variety of hot and cold coffee drinks for caffeine addicts ever since. Coffee drinks get creative, from the homemade frappes to the drink of the day whipped up by the team of highly skilled baristas. The shop also has an amazing cold brew, a specialty blend from Anodyne Coffee that's course-ground and brewed using an old-fashioned Toddy system, then steeped for 24 hours. The result is a smooth, balanced cup of cold brew available by the glass (or in take-home, refillable glass bottles).

8. Roasting Buddies
18457 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines; 954-441-2441;
There's something new brewing out west in Pembroke Pines: a coffee shop that features in-house roasting and specialty brew methods all in one. We're talking about 5-month-old Roasting Buddies, a coffee shop that features micro-lot-sourced beans from places like Kenya, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and El Salvador — freshly ground and prepared a number of ways. There's an espresso bar with all the usual hot and iced suspects, including house frappes in flavors like hazelnut, mocha, caramel, peppermint, and Caribbean coconut. A slow bar offers up still more options with syphon, V60, Aeropress, and French press brew methods as well as cold brew iced coffee. Try the vanilla and coconut, the house cold brew sweetened with vanilla syrup and coconut water.

7. Brew Urban Cafe Next Door
537 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-357-3934;
Tucked into an almost clandestine location inside Fort Lauderdale's C&I Studios, Brew Urban Cafe Next door originated as an offshoot of the first Brew Urban located in downtown Himmarshee Village (now closed). Next Door took off, occupying a large open space that resembles a library but serves some of the best coffee around. For all its coffee drinks — both hot and cold — Brew uses locally roasted Wells Coffee. But cold brew gets its own brew method — two, to be exact. In addition to Wells, baristas also use various single origin coffees, primarily from Colombia and Honduras, to make their house cold brew in small batches steeped for 18 hours and using the Toddy brew method. For East African coffees, a yama cold brew dripper is employed. Talk about fancy.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna