Miami is famous (or infamous) for its beaches, toned bodies, and hot nights filled with music. Dancing until dawn and then trying to make it through the day requires massive doses of caffeine. Thankfully, the Magic City is home to some wonderful coffee joints.
From the little walk-up windows of downtown and Calle Ocho serving dark and sweet cafecitos, to cafés where customers with designer dogs sip lattes and espressos, Miami has its fair share of coffeehouses, including a growing group of boutique spots that roast, grind, and brew beans onsite.
1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Camila Ramos has plenty of coffee cred. The former Panther Coffee director of retail operations, Ramos got her start at Volta in Gainesville. Now the coffee maven has opened her own spot in downtown with a wall menu blazing in green neon. Choose a single-origin pour-over ($5) or a special drink of the day ($5.50 to $7.50). If you can't decide, opt for a cupping ($9) of three coffees.
Eternity Coffee Roasters
117 SE Second Ave., Miami
If you love coffee, you owe it to yourself to attend one of Eternity Coffee Roasters' Sunday-morning cuppings. Think of it as a winetasting for coffee, complete with note-taking, sniffing, and sipping. Coffee lovers and collectors of knowledge love the fact that the beans they're drinking come with dossiers and pedigrees from small farms in Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Free Wi-Fi and a selection of sandwiches make you want to linger longer. You can also take home beans to experience Eternity every day ($19 per pound).
Owners Joel and Leticia Pollock talk about their coffees like they were their children. Each one has its own story, most beginning with "Once upon a time, on a little farm in Brazil or Peru, a coffee plant was born." The Pollocks hand-select the beans on buying trips and custom-roast them. Panther Coffee is sold not only at the shop but also at discerning restaurants around Miami. With locations in Coconut Grove, Wynwood, South Beach, Little Haiti, and the MiMo District, Panther is Miami's hometown coffee company. Coffee by the pound averages around $19.
Alaska Coffee Roasting
13130 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami
Owner Michael Gesser started Alaska Coffee Roasting in — where else? — Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1993. The coffeehouse, which finishes its own fresh beans in a Sivitz small-batch roaster, opened a second location as far away as possible from the flagship — in North Miami. The philosophy, however, remains the same. Coffee beans from the far corners of the Earth — Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Nicaragua, to name a few — are hand-selected and roasted on-premises. What results is a beautiful cup of joe at a fair price. Coffees start at $1.50 for a small-brew blend.
Vice City Bean
1657 N. Miami Ave., Miami
This industrial-looking coffee shop, located at the Filling Station Lofts, is the project of Roland and Eva Baker, who turned their coffee obsession into a place where java lovers can share their passion. Featuring Madcap Coffee out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the store offers espressos ($3.25), pour-overs ($4 to $4.50), and cortados ($4). Try a latte ($4.50 to $5) with the shop's house-made almond and macadamia nut milk ($1 additional) for a change of pace. The shop also serves vegan and vegetarian snacks, pastries, and doggy treats.
17830 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach
Next to Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach, find the charming coffee shop the Alchemist. At the coffee bar, you'll spot a syphon, a contraption used to brew coffee in-house. For the cold brew, beans are roasted onsite and cold-steeped for 24 hours. Then the coffee 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 one for yourself, and a barista will hand-shake the brew using a cocktail shaker and pour it over fist-size ice cubes inside a Mason jar. The lab also whips up espressos, lattes, macchiatos, and hot chocolate, along with hot and cold herbal teas ($3 to $5). For something more experimental, try the Bulletproof, a unique blend of coffee, coconut oil, and ghee (a clarified butter used in traditional medicines).
1105 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach
Is it a café or a shop selling high-end celebrity-endorsed espresso machines? It's both. At the front of this futuristic rainbow-colored shop, espresso and coffee drinks are served, along with a limited and expensive light-fare menu (grilled cheese sandwich for $16, anyone?). Skip the food and go straight for the coffee. Choose from 16 crus with notes such as spicy, floral, woody, malt, cereal, and honey. You'd almost think you were perusing a wine list with all the talk of terroir, blends, and origins, but the folks at Nespresso want you to become pod people. The entire café seems like a pitch to get you to buy one of their Euro-style machines, which brew a perfect cup of espresso from exclusive pods. Espressos are priced around $3.50, and cappuccinos and lattes range from $4.50 to $6.50. The machines cost $250 to $2,000.
Europa Car Wash & Cafe
6075 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
We're not sure when the trend of combining gas stations and car washes with restaurants and bistros began, but we're down with the program. Instead of staring at your car while it's being washed, step into Europa's welcoming lounge-like café and order a perfectly steaming cappuccino topped with caramel and whipped cream ($4) while your car is hand-washed (starting at $20). Free Wi-Fi and fresh sandwiches made with Boar's Head products make Europa a great place to multitask while getting your caffeine fix.
3501 SW Eighth St., Miami
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Step back in time to a place where men in guayaberas talk politics over cortaditos. Evaporated milk is added to the extra-strong coffee for sweetness and depth ($1.75). Famous for being the place where people gathered at every rumor of Fidel Castro's death, Versailles is as close to Havana as most will get for a while.
House of Per'La
2626 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables
Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli (Glass and Vine, Eating House) has teamed up with Miami coffee roasters, Per'La Specialty Coffee for this Coral Gables café that features espressos, lattes, and other coffee drinks made with Per'La's exclusive beans roasted right here in Miami. Instead of the usual mass-produced muffin or nuked egg sandwich, the food selection features freshly baked croissants, a B.L.A.T. (bacon, lettuce, mashed avocado, and tomato) sandwich ($9), soups, and salads.