They say necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of craft and specialty coffee in South Florida, this is certainly true. For many members of South Florida's growing community of small-batch coffee roasters, the quest for a good cup of coffee is what propelled them into the business.
"You could say most great ideas start in a garage," says Oceana Coffee Roasting founder Scott Angelo, who began roasting from home first as a hobby. "That's where it began [for us]. Now, roasting is much more than a hobby. Today, it's a mission to share with people what truly good coffee is all about."
That same passion is making its mark across Palm Beach and Broward Counties, where in the past few years, a number of small-batch coffee roasters have started what is becoming a specialty coffee movement of sorts. What Panther Coffee in Miami's Wynwood district and Oceana Coffee began in 2012 has slowly crept north.
From places like Pumphouse Coffee Roasters and Rabbit Coffee Roasters to the North, to Broward-based roasters like Argyle Coffee Roasters and Calusa Coffee in Fort Lauderdale, or Relentless Roasters and the original Panther Coffee in Miami, the quality-focused roasting market in Southeast Florida has decidedly transitioned from bud to boom.
All that's left to do after you read this list is go out and caffeinate.
The Chosen Bean
Call 754-444-0679; thechosenbean.com.
The Chosen Bean founder Moshe Ruza has lived a number of lifetimes. He helped run his family's three-generation high-fashion accessory business in New York City, owned a resort in the Caribbean for close to a decade, and today is the founder of his own coffee-roasting company. Ruza first launched Chosen Bean, a small-batch coffee-roasting operation based out of his Coral Springs home, in 2010. At the time, he was on the search for the perfect cup of coffee. Today, coffee from the Chosen Bean is chosen for its high quality and exclusivity. To ensure this, Ruza says he selects beans from the top 2 percent of all beans worldwide, sourcing from small farms around the world, something that allows for somewhat "exclusive" flavors depending on the individual farmers' growing techniques. He currently roasts four to five single-origin roasts, several seasonal selections, espresso blends, and a few organic options. The roaster also recently launched a new cold-brew "shot," a two-ounce energy drink made from Chosen Bean's coffee, steeped in filtered water for over 16 hours to produce a smooth (yet powerful) coffee concentrate. Although there's no coffee shop or tasting room, you can purchase the Chosen Bean at a number of local retailers or order online. For $5, a sample pack gets any of the Chosen Bean's single-origin coffees or blends with the incentive to save money on a full order.
Crux Coffee Roasters
1155 Main St., Jupiter; 561-768-0400; crux.coffee.
Palm Beach County locals and husband-and-wife team Dan and Victoria Rudden opened Crux Coffee Roasters in Jupiter's Abacoa shopping plaza in early April 2016. At the time, the duo wanted to open their own take on a specialty coffee shop after discovering a love of roasting at home. With plenty of restaurant industry experience between them — Dan hails from a family of Italian restauranteurs in New Jersey and Victoria from a family-owned chain of bakeries in Bogota, Colombia — today Crux offers a number of Internationally-sourced coffees for a selection you'd be hard-pressed to find at most coffee shops or roasters. It's all part of their mission find the "crux" — the most essential element — of each coffee bean. The menu selections span nearly a dozen different beans from countries across the globe, from Costa Rica and Brazil to Bali and Sumatra, all roasted on-site. There's also the option to sample America's Finest Coffee, Dan's favorite house roast made with Hawaiian beans for a smooth, clean cup with notes of cinnamon and a chocolate finish. Unlike many local roasters, Crux truly focuses on the cafe side of things, a 2,000-square-foot space that offers everything from traditional espresso drinks, lattes, and cappuccinos to cold brew coffee on tap and specialty coffee drinks.
Rabbit Coffee Roasting
1411 West 13th St., Riviera Beach; 855-672-8669; rabbitcoffee.com.
For the past two years, when you walk into the West Palm Beach Green Market, you're greeted with an extra perky vendor: Riviera Beach-based Rabbit Coffee Roasting Company, one of the area's boutique coffee roasters serving artisanal craft brews and espresso (every Saturday from October through May). Founders and roasters Iain Yeakle and Adriano Cerasaro launched Rabbit in 2014 and today are best-known for their popular flagship coffee, single-origin roasts made from organic beans sourced from farms in Guatamala and Antigua. They're available in Keurig-compatible, single-serve cups or by the bag. If you fancy your coffee chilled, however, there's also their Rabbit cold brew. A number of Palm Beach County shops and eateries currently carry the 16-ounce, brown-glass bottles, while others serve it via a keg tap system. Recently, a more concentrated version known as Luxe Rabbit hit the market, identifiable by its gold lettering. In 2016, the company also launched a new, all-natural, two-ounce energy drink they've dubbed Jack Rabbit, a caramel-flavored energy drink with 140 milligrams of caffeine made with Rabbit cold-brew coffee, natural flavorings, and sugar. The product, sponsored by Nascar's Jesse Iwuji, is available for sale in six- and 12-packs.
Blooming Bean Coffee Roasting
41 NE First St., Pompano Beach; 954-284-0141; baileyarts.org.
In July, Blooming Bean Coffee Co. opened in a small cafe space inside the Bailey Contemporary Arts Center west gallery in Pompano Beach. It marked the latest coffee shop to come online in Broward County for 2016. Here, cofounders Sharon and Rick Stephenson serve a variety of drip, slow-brew, and cold-brew coffees made using their own brand of roasted beans. The communal space offers local artists a place to both work and display their creations that is set with comfy tables and chairs for guests to enjoy Blooming Bean’s locally roasted and handcrafted coffees along with "light-bite" food pairings prepared and delivered by local culinary artisans. Try Sharon's nitro cold-brew coffee she's named Designated Driver. The roast — a blend of several beans — offers a smooth, rich, creamy mouthfeel with none of the sour notes often associated with most cold-brew coffees. If you prefer a traditional drip or pour-over hot coffee, the shop offers several of the most popular varieties, including Chemex and Kalita Wave. No matter what your preference, every sip goes toward a good cause: With each cup of ethically sourced beans and coffee the Pompano Beach community purchases, the business donates 10 percent of sales to a number of South Florida organizations aimed at fighting child trafficking, including Hepzibah House and There is Hope for Me.
Subculture Coffee Roasters
509 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-318-5142; subculturecoffee.com.
In the past few decades, Americans have had no choice but to live with a limited selection of coffee. There isn't much to choose from outside of the good old double-Ds or Starbucks. And it's that much more evident here in South Florida, where specialty coffee shops are few and far between. But thanks to Subculture Coffee, we're now two coffee shops closer to the real deal. In 2014, restaurateur Rodney Mayo and Habitat Coffee founder Sean Scott partnered to develop a microroasting facility. Their vision: to open your eyes to coffee beyond that gas-station sludge and fancy-ordering system. Today, as one of the area's first microroasters, Subculture brews coffee craft-style in small batches with specialty-sourced beans and using precision roasting and brewing equipment at both its West Palm Beach and Delray Beach cafes.
Grind Coffee Project
599 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-774-0555.
What started as a mobile caffeine service on the patio of Stache in downtown Fort Lauderdale is today a thriving underground coffee shop for true coffee connoisseurs. Launched in January 2013, Grind owner Yoni Martin and his barista crew had one goal: to ensure that Fort Lauderdale doesn't miss out on quality coffee. Beans come from a variety of roasters, including Martin's own Egg Head Coffee Roasters, Miami's Panther's Coffee, Portland's Stumptown, and Ithaca's Gimme! Coffee. The biggest message at Grind: Serve only high-end coffee and espresso from roasters around the country who share Martin's level of appreciation and dedication to roasting, brewing, and serving coffee the right way.
Calusa Coffee Roasters
161 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-4377; calusacoffeeroasters.com.
For 23 years, Calusa Coffee Roasters founder Steven Hodel operated his own travel company, one specializing in trips to Central and South America vacations. The job exposed him to the world of coffee. Today, the building that once housed his travel business is now home to Calusa Coffee Roasters, founded in 2013 and named for inhabiting the southwest coast of Florida. Hodel learned to roast in Costa Rica, a trade he perfected over the course of many visits to individual coffee farms over the years for one of his more popular travel destinations. "One thing everyone wanted to do in Costa Rica was go on a coffee tour," says Hodel. "After a while, I got to know the growers, cuppers, and roasters." Calusa's in-house roasts are blends made with beans from countries across South and Central America and Africa. The small shop, open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, offers custom roasting services, beans by the bag, and a utilitarian cafe where customers can order from a short list of hot and cold beverages ranging from various pour-over brew methods to the house cold brew, all made with Calusa's coffee. Visit on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to see Hodel's roasting process in action.
Per'La Specialty Roasters
4657 SW 71st Ave., Miami; 816-714-8885; drinkperla.com.
Founded in 2015 by business partners and longtime friends Paul Massard and Chris Nolte, Miami's Per’La Specialty Roasters focuses on rare, highly graded coffees from a rotating list of origins chosen for both quality and seasonality. Among the newest coffee roasters to hit the South Florida specialty coffee-roasting scene, Massard is the coffee expert and is in charge of sourcing, with a career in coffee that began with a Kansas City roaster and retailer called the Roasterie. From there, he relocated to Hawaii to work with Honolulu Coffee. Today, you can find the duo's coffee across Miami, with blends and single-origin beans roasted in their 1,200-square-foot production roasting facility in the Bird Road Art District. In addition to roasting, Per’La is also able to assist its customers in customizing blends, barista education, and menu development.
Pumphouse Coffee Roasters
1095 Jupiter Park Dr., Jupiter; 561-379-9562; pumphousecoffeeroasters.com.
Brothers and business partners Christian and Alex Le Clainche launched Pumphouse earlier this year with the goal to market their specialty roasts available to the wholesale sector and to the public via an online retail store. Plans for a cafe and training facility for both customers and clients are in the works. For now, their main goal is to change the craft-coffee roasting scene in and around their hometown just north of West Palm Beach. While Alex is focused on the roasting and the business side, with training from Boot Coffee in California, Christian spent time in Austin, Texas, where he learned the barista side of things. Today, they're best known for their hand-bottled cold brew, Dawn Patrol, also available in kegs or refillable growlers. Find them at the West Palm Beach Green Market, where they serve up hot and cold-brew coffee from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday.
Wells Coffee Company
199 West Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton; 561-430-5640; wellscoffees.com.
Boca Raton resident Brandon Wells has a favorite saying: "Drink deeply." It's a fitting philosophy for the man who stands as the owner and founder of one of Palm Beach County's specialty coffee roasting companies. It isn't a slogan, however; it's simply a way of life. That's why, in 2014, Wells created his eponymous Wells Coffee Company, a small-batch coffee-roasting company that operated out of then-newly opened coffee shop and juice bar the Seed, a partnership that's provided a space for Wells to do weekly roasts, including a line of specially blended coffee available at the shop's "slow" bar. Today, the operation has expanded to a fully-dedicated, 2,000-square-foot Fort Lauderdale roasting facility that will be home to Wells' custom 25-pound San Franciscan drum roaster. The new roastery headquarters will be located in the newly renovated, 1950’s warehouses that are part of a redevelopment plan in downtown Fort Lauderdale known as Flagler Uptown. The new space will enable Wells to sell his roasts to the public via an online store, as well as to local and national businesses.
Argyle Coffee Roasters
722 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 305-527-5327; argylecoffeeroasters.com.
So many of us look at coffee as a utilitarian entity, something that serves the purpose of waking you up. But for small-batch and specialty roasters, it's so much more than that. To help caffeinate the masses with quality coffee, Miami native Manny Carrera and his wife, Amy Miller, founded Argyle Coffee Roasters in 2014. By focusing on consumer education, the couple — which operates out of a roasting facility in a downtown Fort Lauderdale warehouse — provides local establishments with specialty, custom-created roasts. For now, Argyle’s primary business is wholesale, including numerous private label accounts. They also work with local brewers to create specialty coffee-infused beer. Although they don't operate a cafe, if you're interested to see what they have to offer (or want a bag of beans you won't be able to find anywhere else) you can head to Argyle on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the couple open the roastery for a quick meet-and-greet. It's all part of Argyle's main focus to help people experience better coffee.
Relentless Coffee Roasters
11965 SW 142nd Ter., Miami; 786-701-3276; relentlessroasters.com.
After gradating college, Miami native Daniel Choiseul Paguaga moved to Ocotal, a rural town in Nicaragua, to learn about coffee from his family (his grandfather had been in the business for over 80 years). In just over six months Papuaga says he learned everything from how to pick coffee beans to roasting. With all that newfound knowledge, he returned to Miami and, in 2013, partnered with longtime friend, Andre Villarreal, to create Relentless Coffee Roasters. The name was inspired by Papuaga's grandfather, a man he describes as "relentless." While roasting is the main focus, the duo decided that rather than pursue a traditional café to market their seed-to-cup coffees they would instead launch a mobile cold-brew truck. Known as the Cold Brew Station, the coffee shop on wheels officially launched in August and today serves Relentless Coffee Roaster's Awaken cold brew straight, premixed with milk and sugar, and as part of a growing selection of creative, coffee-based concoctions.
221 Old Dixie Hwy.; Tequesta; 561-401-2453; oceanacoffee.com.
Founded in 2011, Oceana Coffee was the first to come onto the specialty coffee scene in Palm Beach County — and right on the heels of Miami's Panther Coffee. Owners Scott and Amy Angelo created their original roasting facility and in-house cafe around painstakingly sourced, single-origin coffees. This year, the couple celebrated the one-year anniversary of their second, larger retail location. The 2,000-square-foot cafe is located just a few miles from the original Old Dixie Highway roasting facility, a place Scott continues to use as his main roasting site to supply the two cafes, as well as a growing number of Palm Beach and Martin County restaurants. At the new shop, however, coffee lovers can find beans by the bag; manual brews, espresso drinks, Oceana’s house cold brew; and a number of educational seminars and coffee-centric classes.
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SwitchBox Coffee Roasters
3446 NE 12th Ave., Oakland Park; 888-849-7269; switchboxcoffee.com.
After more than a decade behind the controls of large commercial coffee roasters, in early 2016 Brian Protsman decided to venture into the world of coffee roasting for himself. Today, he and his wife, Miriam, are the proud owners of SwitchBox Roasters, one of Broward County's newest specialty coffee roasters. Their flagship location in Oakland Park in the heart of the city's new Culinary Arts District features a beautiful 2,300-square-foot coffee shop and lounge. If you don't fancy an espresso, latte, or cappuccino, you can grab a seat at the large slow bar that circles Brian's Probat roaster where you can choose from a number of manual brewing methods. No matter what you choose, rest assured you're going to get a perfect cup: the shops employs a special water filtration system along with a two-group Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine and Mythos One grinders for each of their rotating and seasonal single-origin beans, and espresso blends.
Multiple locations; 305-677-3952; panthercoffee.com.
Panther Coffee came on the scene in 2010 and from humble beginnings to a fast-growing chain of craft-coffee shops has changed how Miamians drink their java. Not many people outside the 305 know the roaster and coffeehouse actually began as nothing more than a cart on a bicycle serving cold brew at food truck roundups. Today, the operation has grown from the original Wynwood-Based roasting facility to include three additional Miami locations with more on the way. Founders Joel and Leticia Pollock — who moved to South Florida from Portland, Oregon — originally opened Panther as a way to bring the specialty, small-batch coffee they missed from home to the Miami masses. They continue to roast their own beans, each curated from small farms Joel and Leticia visit in person for origin trips when possible. Interested to learn where your cup came from? The coffee shop showcases information sheets about each of the growers they buy from, while labels on bags of beans offer tasting notes, making your java's journey from plant to cup entirely transparent.
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.