It used to be that a cup of coffee was nothing special: a paper cup of liquid caffeine. It tasted relatively the same whether it was from your local greasy spoon or your at-home coffee maker. Be honest: you'd even suffer through 12 ounces of gas-station sludge if it meant getting your morning pick-me-up.
Today, that's all changed. Specialty coffee has quickly taken over, 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 first small-batch coffee roaster that paved the way for more like-minded spots.
In Palm Beach County, new-wave coffee first hit at Oceana Coffee Roasters in Tequesta, where house-roasted beans and fresh-drip coffee are made to order. In Broward, specialty coffee spots include everything from a slow bar at SwitchBox Coffee Roasters in Oakland Park to the fresh-roasted beans at Wells Coffee Company.
Whether you like your coffee black, sweet, or fancy, here are the best coffee shops in Broward and Palm Beach counties. 1. Oceana Coffee Roasters.
Oceana Coffee is the OG — that is, the first roaster to open up shop in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Established in 2009, today the Tequesta-based Oceana continues to offer some of the freshest coffee around. It's all thanks to co-owner Scott Angelo, a talented roaster who takes hand-harvested green beans from all over the world before roasting in small batches, ensuring some of the freshest beans around. What began as a small operation focused on educating customers on a proper cup of Joe has since expanded with a larger space that combines a lounge and retail shop with a conference room that continues Angelo's mission for offering coffee-focused educational courses. If you've come for the caffeine, a menu includes traditional pour-overs, house cold brew, espresso, lattes, and more. Some of the best stuff is even on tap; serving everything from Oceana's cold brew and fresh brewed iced tea to locally made kombucha. Their cold brew is something to savor too, produced on a sealed Toddy system that results in a smooth, low-acid concoction derived from one of Angelo's medium blend roasts. For customers looking to try their hands at brewing their own, the store sells everything needed, from equipment to fresh-roasted beans. 221 Old Dixie Hwy., Tequesta; 561-401-2453; oceanacoffee.com.
2. SwitchBox Coffee Roasters.
Courtesy of Switchbox Coffee Roasters
In 2016, SwitchBox Coffee Roasters cofounders Brian Protsman and his wife, Miriam, opened their coffee shop and roasting facility in the heart of Oakland Park's new culinary arts district. Built as a work space and coffee shop in one, it offers an eight-seat, half-circle slow brew bar that gives customers a chance to order their brew via Chemex, Kalita Wave, or AeroPress coffee (fancy names for different pour-over brewing methods). Brian has been roasting for over a decade, a career he began in Deerfield Beach in 2005. For him, 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. As SwitchBox's head roaster, Protsman sources 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 that rotate with the seasons and availability. Two espresso blends offer a more consistent flavor profile, and each roast is available for retail purchase or as beverages. 3446 NE 12th Ave., Oakland Park; 888-849-7269; switchboxcoffee.com. 3. Wells Coffee Company.
What began as a small roasting operation inside a Boca Raton coffee shop, the Seed, has now expanded into a full-blown roasting facility in Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village. Wells Coffee Company founder Brandon Wells says his coffee is all about expressing the unique terroir
of each bean he sources. That means roasting with just enough exposure to heat to unveil the unique qualities that distinguish each bean from others — his own approach to developing the coffee for ultimate flavor and taste profile. At the Flagler Village shop, get a cup with a fancy pour-over method that allows you to taste the beans in their truest form. Don't leave without a taste of the house horchata cold brew coffee on tap too. A blend of Wells cold brew is lightly sweetened with a spiced rice/almond milk mixture for heaven in a cup. Then take some coffee to go and recreate the experience at home. 737 NE Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-982-2886; wellscoffees.com.
4. Grind Coffee Project.
Courtesy of Grind Coffee Project
While Brew Urban Cafe Next Door, tucked into a clandestine location inside Fort Lauderdale's C&I Studios, is one of our favorite spots (it resembles a library but serves some of the best coffee around), a new-ish coffee shop around the corner is snagging a spot on this list. Grind Coffee Project — once a pop-up endeavor — is now a thriving coffee shop with a second location in Kendall where owners Yoni Martin and Brian Hayes are sourcing, roasting, and brewing some of the best beans around. While Martin cringes at the thought of putting cream and sugar in his fine roasted brew, he's relaxed enough to let you indulge with house-made flavored organic syrups and treat-like hot or cold coffee drinks that feature an array of flavors like from cereal-inspired Coco Puffs to matcha green tea whipped cream. 599 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-774-0555; grindcoffeeproject.com. 5. The Alchemist.
The Alchemist may very well be one of South Florida's most adorable hidden gems: a homey coffee shop at the end of a quiet street. Behind a tall wooden fence you'll find a garden-like grotto patio area where patrons eat and drink in quiet conversation. Inside, order from a menu of hot and cold coffees, including syphon — the house method of brewing. Of course, there's also a killer cold brew. The beans are roasted onsite and cold-steeped for 24 hours. From there, the resulting cold brew is mixed with brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk for a rich, creamy flavor and poured into a giant glass dispenser where it infuses further. Order up a cold brew, and one of the baristas will hand-shake the brew with coffee ice cubes before serving it in a glass mason jar with a rather unique handle. 2430 NE 13th Ave., Wilton Manors; 515-981-6165; thealchemistcoffee.cafe.