Coffee Stops Along Interstate 75
By: Jennifer Audette
For the love of all things sane and sacred, sometimes you just cannot bear another round of karaoke or the Sign Game, making one more threat to pull the car over or continuing to discuss the deeper meanings of life with your road-tripping partner.
It’s time to pull over for a restroom, a decent cup of coffee and some peace of mind.
Let’s agree on one thing: When fast, convenient and reliable are exactly what you want, chain coffee companies excel. But if you are traveling and need a mind-clearing break along with a kick-butt cup of coffee, dig a little further.
“I try to incorporate it into our itinerary every time. We like to see different shops’ take on atmosphere, drink preparation. There is always something new to learn. I find myself taking something away from every shop I visit.”
Starting south and heading north, we’ll lead you along Interstate 75 to some interesting independent coffee shops not too far out of the way.
18457 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines
From I-75: 4 miles
Creativity is king at Roasting Buddies. You want a Pumpkin Latte? At Roasting Buddies, baristas go the extra step of serving it inside a gourd! If you’re looking for something sweet to complement your coffee, go straight for the to-die-for Cheesecake Frappe. Coffee-bean roasting is done on premises, and guests are encouraged to learn the process and brewing methods. Roasting Buddies has become quite a hidden gem in this South Florida community.
13251 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers
From I-75: 7 to 9 miles depending which exit you take
Sweet Bean opened its doors in 2007 as a small coffee shop inside a strip mall.
“It’s a dark, warm, homey type of place,” said Natalie Young, Sweet Bean manager. “It’s a very relaxing environment.” Seating allows for 40 to 45 indoors and even more on the patio. Young highly recommends the Toffee Coffee, described as a creamy coffee with whipped cream and cinnamon on top and that’s all she’ll give up: “It’s a secret.”
2385 E. Venice Ave., Venice
From I-75: 1 mile
If you’re thirsty and hungry, this is the place to stop. Owner Gary Lauters II makes sure everything is made by hand, from the desserts and sandwiches to the coffee roasted on site. He even travels out of the country twice a year to explore new farms for procuring coffee beans. He’s serious about his beans and he wants you to be, too. The roasting machine and sacks of coffee beans are on display to encourage guests to learn and ask questions. “I created this as a destination for world-class coffee, the best of the best,” Lauters said. He should know. He didn’t just jump on the craft-coffee bandwagon. He’s been in the coffee business for more than 20 years. “I’ve always loved coffee. It’s one of those things where I was amazed at all these flavors. It’s like traveling the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.” Speaking of home, that’s how customers describe Black Gold. Julia Reynolds, a Black Gold regular, said. “It’s fun just to come to hang out.”
10020 Carr Road, Riverview
From I-75: 4.6 miles
Those of you seeking hipster-meets-swank and a righteous cup of coffee, take any Riverview exit. At Foundation Coffee, open since 2015, you’ll find Jason and Emily Smith, who espouse coffee, community and outdoors. Single-origin coffees are fixed from a trailer, and plush outdoor seating is provided at tables, couches and wicker chairs. A fire pit warms during cooler months, and sail shades provide a respite from the sun. There’s even a drive-thru if you are on the run, but that’s not what fuels this place. “Coffee is such a community-oriented experience, sitting and talking, conversational,” said Jason Smith. “We wanted to create patio space we knew would get people to hang out.”
11706 N. 51st Street, Tampa
From I-75: 4 miles
This eclectic Florida-style house belies its hipster vibe and solid cups of coffee. “We could have gone to Starbucks, but there’s more of a rushed, get-in-get-out feel there. This place is set up more as a hangout spot. It’s a nice, relaxing place. People come, they chat, they sit,” said Shane Shackleford, 23, visiting from Largo. While you’re at Felicitous, gazing at the funky artwork on the ceiling, playing a board game or grabbing a book from its mini library, you’ll want to try the Honey Bear latte. It’s made with espresso, steamed milk, honey and cinnamon. “People like that it is more natural,” said Sam Risak, one of Felicitous’ baristas. The All You Need Is Latte will curb your sweet tooth, with white chocolate and raspberry. The iced coffees are even chilled with coffee ice cubes, ensuring the coffee won’t become watered down. As a nice alternative to the pastries you see at coffee shops, toasted Cuban bread is served with such fillings as cheese, hummus, sriracha, raspberry chipotle sauce, kale, jalapeños and more.
2915 W. Highway 90, Lake City
From I-75: .8 miles
Elliano’s offers a different type of on-the-go coffee experience with its double drive-thru windows.
“We have customers who every year make their trip through Lake City and stop at Elliano’s,” said Brooke Lacey, manager of Elliano’s Highway 90 shop. The best bet? The drip coffee, said Lacey. “It’s all in the way the beans are roasted.”
Photos by Scott Audette for VISIT FLORIDA