Brewing All Over Florida: Craft Coffee
By Jennifer Audette
When a tall mocha latte with a spritz of low-fat whipped cream isn’t enough, it’s time to go a step farther.
Enter the world of French press, cold pours and roasting your own coffee beans.
The craft coffee movement has made its way to Florida, and if you’re a craft-coffee aficionado, you’ll find plenty of places to savor the nuances of Ethiopian Sidamo coffee beans.
“Over the three and a half years we have been open, we have seen a big shift,” said Colin Frew, Quality Assurance Manager and Trainer at Lucky Goat Coffee Co. in Tallahassee.
“When we first started, almost every customer who wandered through our doors was new to the idea of craft coffee. We would have to start from scratch with most people. The South as a whole is seen to be a little behind the curve with coffee. I have seen that change gradually, however.”
As craft-coffee-loving travelers know, part of the appeal of finding a craft coffee shop you love is the vibe.
“Craft coffee is more than just fancy brewing techniques and latte art, it's a community,” said Jason Barnett, Wholesale Manager for Zeal Coffee Roasters in Tampa...
A quest to educate customers is found at most shops, and sharing is a key component to being a craft coffee brewer or barista.
For instance, on one particular morning, an employee from Blind Tiger was training at Zeal – not something you typically see at more commercial coffee shops.
“There isn't anything quite like converting someone who has only drunk instant coffee/Folgers their whole lives and seeing them come in once a week and buying coffee for the house,” Barnett said of the customer base at Zeal, which has gone from a rotisserie grill converted to a roaster to owning a 20-pound roaster.
Zeal is known for its v60 pour-over method as well as its Aeropress method. With the v60, coffee grinds are able to bloom through a two-part wetting process that requires patient pouring – about three minutes total. In the Aeropress method, a special steeping and filtering device requires more finely ground beans and uses air pressure to yield an intensely flavored cup of coffee in less than two minutes.
“We chose these in hopes of our customers experiencing our coffees in two completely different methods to show the complexity of specialty coffee,” Barnett said.
There he goes with that education thing again, describing a community where drinking coffee has become more of an experience than something one does for a jolt of caffeine.
Lucky Goat, on the other hand, has become known for its Cold Brew.
“We put our cold-brewed coffee in kegs and pressurize it with nitrogen, so it looks a bit like a Guinness when it pours. It is very smooth and drinkable, and when it is hot out (most of the year), we barely close the tap,” said Frew, the Tallahassee Quality Assurance Manager.
As is the trend with coffee shops – and food, in general, the coffee is served with a heaping scoop of conscientiousness. Coffee-bean farmers are never far from thought or discussion at shops around the state.
A fresh cup of coffee from the pour-over process at Zeal Coffee Roasters
“Great coffee represents a tremendous amount of work for everyone involved in the supply chain. Much of our coffee is picked by hand in the countries it comes from,” Frew said.
That great attention to detail and excellence continues through to the last drop of coffee.
“We put a large amount of effort into what we do,” Frew said. “Our coffee is brewed with care and diligence, and we try our best to make sure each customer leaves with something they love.”
Here are a few other places to find craft coffee:
2390 N.W. 2nd Ave., Miami
Eternity Coffee Roasters
117 S.E. 2nd Ave., Miami
Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
869 Stockton Street, Jacksonville
2400 Third St. S., Jacksonville Beach
Indian River Coffee
2112A Sarno Road, Melbourne
Zeal Coffee Roasters
1703 W. State St., Tampa (located inside The Lab Tampa)
Lucky Goat Coffee Co.
668 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee
1307 N. Monroe St., Suite 5, Tallahassee
Photos by Scott Audette for VISIT FLORIDA