When it comes to Miami coffee shops I could pour you a list as long as South Beach. Instead, I’ve decided to share a few select spots where I enjoy my Miami vice on my layovers. From cafecitos at a ventanita (a takeaway window) in Little Havana to nitro cold brews in the Wynwood arts district, Miami is a hotbed of hip coffeehouses and can partly thank its Cuban links for the rich coffee heritage that’s filtered into the wider cafe culture.
Flights of fancy in Wynwood
I peered out of the taxi window at the glowing pink sunset. It may have been nightfall back in London and a balmy evening in Miami, but after my journey across the Atlantic, by my watch it was coffee time.
Into the Wynwood location of Panther Coffee, one of the specialty coffee roasters that launched Miami onto the third wave map. Focusing on small batch production, the award-winning coffeehouse and retailer roast their own coffee beans with great attention to detail and an experimental approach. The proof is definitely in the cup, and I’ve enjoyed post-landing night-cap’puccinos and late-night lattes here after many a 9-hour journey.
On a recent visit I ordered an aptly-named espresso Coffee Flight. This involved sipping two different coffees side by side that had been roasted on-site, one of which was my favourite blend – the East Coast espresso. It starts out creamy like silk before its subtle chocolatey notes surface, then cools with lingering hints of sweet dark cherries and delicate sugar cane. The contrasting West Coast blend was just as delicious; its citrus and buttery notes reminding me of a lemon cheesecake. I’d highly recommend the iced latte and nitro cold brew too, which are not unlike a vanilla ice-cream float made with malty and chocolatey coffee – perfect for when the Miami heat is on. The Wynwood location is my favourite, but if you’re based a little closer to the ocean, a coffee fix at the Miami Beach venue is only a short drive away. I asked barista Sean what people will find at Panther Coffee that they won’t at any other coffee shop around these parts. His reply? “A queue of people out the door.”
Panther Coffee, 2390 NW Second Ave, Miami, FL 33127 & 1875 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 and three other locations.
Little Havana and the Cuban link
Whenever I have the opportunity I take myself to Little Havana and wander along the famous Calle Ocho (8th Street), stopping off at a ventanita for a short Cuban coffee that’s typically served in a mini polystyrene cup. In the 1960s and 70s, hundreds of thousands of Cuban immigrants arrived in Miami after the Cuban Revolution, bringing their coffee traditions with them. The ubiquitous cafecito (also known as a Cuban espresso, or Café Cubano) is intensely strong and incredibly sweet. One of these will leave me wired, which is great for powering through a night flight!
Watching a coffee being prepared at a ventanita is like real life theatre (just like Havana, in fact). Coffee and conversation are served up in equal parts and if you speak Spanish (as I do) you’ll feel somewhat more at home in this fascinating neighbourhood, though it’s not at all necessary – the language of coffee is all you need. On my recent visit to Miami it had rained the entire morning, but not even the colour-drained Floridian sky could dampen the hues of Little Havana. I took shelter at one of my regular spots and ordered a cortadito followed by a cafecito. The cortadito is a shorter version of the cortado, where condensed milk is used to cut the intensity of the coffee, and unlike the cafecito it’s topped with milk, though a very small amount. As I sipped, I thought about how much I like this stripped-back neighbourhood with a charm of its own, away from the glitz and the glam of the beaches nearby. In my opinion a visit to Little Havana is much like a cafecito – short, sweet and over too quickly, but worth every sip of your time.
With a ventanita of its own, the coffee menu at ALL DAY is music to any speciality coffee lover’s ears, including my own. I first visited last summer after finding myself in the Park West neighbourhood on the upside of downtown Miami, while on a mission to find alternative iced coffees. Back then I had a mouthwatering cold brew infused with rosewater and served with a cocktail umbrella, and I returned a few months later for a full-on coffee tasting experience known as The Cupping. My knowledgeable barista presented three coffees that had all been freshly ground into specially designed glasses, slowly topped with hot water. The process allows you to decipher the aroma, flavour notes and individual characteristics and helps you to discern roast profiles. In particular, my cortado in a sherry glass went down a treat. The espresso used was the Creamery Seasonal Blend roasted by Ruby Colorful Roasters, which bore all the hallmarks of its growing regions, Peru and Colombia; well balanced and chocolatey.
In true stopover style, I always order one for the sky and decided on a seasonal affair named ‘Our Sweetheart No. 4’. This cold brew and rosemary limeade was fragrant, with the herbal hints of the rosemary fading into the zesty lime, setting the stage for the punchy cold brew notes. As I waited for it to arrive, I couldn’t help but marvel at contemporary artist Daniel Arsham’s Linea Mini coffee machine sculptures on the wall, created using volcanic ash, crystals and glass. From concept to coffee, the entire cafe is a true labour of coffee love. Eager to find out more, I caught up with owners Camila Ramos and Chris MacLeod, and asked them about the cafe’s starring role in the Miami coffee scene.
ALL DAY coffee shop plays a huge role in enriching the community coffee culture in Miami. How does this affect the way that Miamians now enjoy coffee?
Thank you, we certainly aim to enrich the community coffee culture. Because we work so hard to make incredibly delicious coffee drinks, it opens people up to trying new things and explore coffee in a new way. This can mean adding less sugar in their coffee, or enjoying a refreshing lemonade coffee drink—which people hadn’t really considered as a coffee option in the past.
Why did you decide to have a ventanita?
I grew up going to ventanitas and I have always loved walking up to a window to get a drink, enjoying it outside and not having to commit entirely to sitting down somewhere. Also, it’s great for pick up, so anyone can just park quickly and grab their order.
What was the inspiration behind your cafe’s name?
It’s kind of a long explanation, but here’s the story: ALL DAY was a term used in prison to say that an inmate had a life sentence. After leaving jail, ex-prisoners found it difficult to get jobs outside of kitchens, and the term began and continues to mean the total number of an item in queue that a cook has to make. From there, the term found its way to “the streets”, and is now a ubiquitous phrase used to describe something you do often, and proudly so. This last meaning is special to us because it embodies our attitude and approach to doing the best possible job we can do in positively impacting our community and planet, which is our purpose for the business.
ALL DAY, 1035 N Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136
Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Miami from London Heathrow.