It's walk-up windows rather than Miami coffee shops that promote the city's strong Cuban coffee culture—evidenced in Little Havana by morning and afternoon crowds outside any given cafeteria’s to-go counter waiting for a colada (a pot of sweetened espresso with enough sugar and caffeine to fuel an entire company). But where do you go when you want to meet someone for coffee or simply sit down to enjoy a pastry and a cup o’ Joe? (Or face the day after an evening hitting the Miami nightlife hard?) Time Out has rounded up the best coffee shops in Miami, from Coral Gables to downtown Miami and beyond, to check out before the afternoon slump sneaks up.
Best coffee shops in Miami
Tourists and locals alike are responsible for the long lines that form outside this Wynwood coffee shop at any time of the day. Their famous cold brew—made using their proprietary espresso blend that’s been steeped overnight—is a perfectly balanced cup of coffee served over ice, and perhaps the only caffeinated drink to stand up the Miami heat. Everything about Panther feels cool and modern, from the iPad you use to pay to the cream and sugar bar that’s stocked with much more: soy milk, liquid turbinado sugar, etc. Panther's other two outposts (in Coconut Grove and in Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour neighborhood) may serve wine and beer and host monthly karaoke nights, but nothing feels quite like sipping and people watching at the original.
Stopping in at Café Curuba and not ordering one of their homemade pastries would be like skipping the fries with your burger—the two just go together. A delicious pairing here would go something like this: a warm, Colombian pan de bono (Which you can now buy by the dozen!) and a cortado made using Counter Culture Coffee or a raw energy bar with a cold brew you’ve sweetened yourself with either the homemade milk syrup or homemade vanilla syrup. They’ve recently started serving a “counter brunch” on Sundays, a light spread of breakfast sandwiches and pastries intended for those on the go.
All Day is all of the things: bar, restaurant, coffee shop. And like its name denotes, it’s also where you can go (almost) round the clock to eat, drink and hang out. The coffee menu is all-encompassing, featuring various origins and blends, and caters to java nerds who like to experiment with different brewing methods. Food is equally involved here, so rather than plain grits, you’re getting blue corn grits. And the typical Cuban pan con croqueta? That’s got Gouda cheese and a yummy egg spread.
If you thought a customized drink order at Starbucks was confusing, you haven’t tried your luck at Pasion del Cielo. You see, personalization goes beyond dark and light here. With every drink order your barista will ask you to choose the type of beans you’d like used, such as Colombian, Cuban or Brazilian. Not sure which to choose? Count on the friendly staff to give you a brief geography lesson in coffee production and offer suggestions, making the five seconds of panic you experience at the register are well worth the cup of coffee you’re about to receive.
Cafe Demetrio is the quintessential coffee shop, where suits, students and artists alike feel right at home. Supporters of this family-owned business and Coral Gables institution rave about the great service, while serious coffee drinkers frequent the cafe for its selection of traditional drinks (chances are your cappuccino will have foam art) and delicious fare—the quiches in particular are remarkable. Though if it's ambiance you’re after, you have the option to sit out back in the shaded courtyard that feels like you’ve stepped onto the patio of an Italian villa.
Tinta y Café is where you go when you want a legitimate Cuban coffee but don’t feel like pushing your way to the front of a busy window, as is the case with most cafecito spots in Miami. Also true of this café and not of most that serve traditional Cuban coffee is that you’ll find plenty of seating where to kick back and enjoy a Cubano sandwich or flan with your cortadito. Non-coffee drinkers have their choice of teas and a variety of rich fruit batidos—like Frappuccinos only better.
If you’ve ever fantasized about quitting your nine-to-five to pursue a passion, you’ll relate to B Sweet Coffee Shop’s owner, Karina Giminez, whose love of coffee shops inspired her to open this inconspicuous little gem in the Design District. The space feels homey, like you’re sitting in a friend’s breakfast nook for a cup o’ Joe and a Propose a Toast (toast served with jam) or a Never Alone (scrambled eggs with a side of bacon). Most of the menu is similarly punny but the food is serious stuff, especially the pastries, which are baked fresh daily by pastry chef Thomas Worhach.
Nothing upsets regulars like an inconsistent cup of coffee. But that’s seldom the case at Alaska Coffee Roasting Co., which uses the Sivetz Fluid Bed Coffee Roaster to ensure a smooth, clean taste every time. Founder Michael Gesser, who opened up in Miami three years ago after a successful 22-year run in Alaska, trusts the beans he imports from around the world to this special roasting method that skips on out filters altogether. Clearly a fan of machinery and specialized equipment, Gesser also imported a brick oven from Italy to make his famous, handcrafted breakfast pizzas.
Co-owned by Chris Johnson and Cristin and Ernesto Garces—both of whom are Colombian coffee growers—Eternity prides itself on sourcing its beans directly from farms in Corcordia just outside Medellin, Colombia, as well as other major coffee-producing regions in Ethiopia and Guatemala, among others. This sort of farm-direct trade is what allows the roasters to provide a true seed-to-cup experience, which is only made better by the low-key soundtrack and laid-back coffee-house vibe that encourage lingering—though the discounted parking upstairs helps, too. On weekends, you’ll find what Johnson calls “Java Junkies” sitting down to a game of Scrabble over a cup of nitrogen-infused cold brew (available on tap).
Even with hundreds of outposts around the world, Nespresso feels like a locals’ spot in tourist-laden Lincoln Road Mall. Pop in during the day to find people holding business meetings over designer espresso drinks and fancy patisserie, or tourists lingering over a cup of coffee at one of the patio tables—perfect for people watching on Lincoln Road. Like most other locations, this Nespresso boutique is sprawling, with indoor and outdoor seating options, a lunch menu and a counter that sells pods and equipment.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Yon Garin