How do you take your coffee? With cheesy tater tots, a yoga meditation circle or, if you're daring, perhaps a Nutella Banana doughnut?
Local independent coffee shops in South Florida are pairing their sweet caffeinated nectar with a few extra perks to better drive customers away from Starbucks and into their java joints.
In addition to small-batch roasts and fair-trade beans, these 10 brew houses also serve screenings of B movies, coffee-infused cocktails and beer, poetry readings, board games and the occasional reiki circle.
"Coffee is just a vehicle to get people together," says Charlene Young, owner of Davie's Your Big Picture Café. "A coffee shop is a social gathering place where you can really do something special."
Warsaw Coffee Company: 815 NE 13th St, Fort Lauderdale, 954-990-4189, WarsawCoffee.com, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Coffee highlights: One of the rare java joints to boast its own in-house pastry chef, Warsaw came on the coffee scene in May with Scott Ojeda and partner Blaise McMackin, co-owner of Tap 42 in Fort Lauderdale. Coffee is sourced from nearby Argyle Coffee Roasters in Flagler Village, and is served batch brew drip, café au lait, clever, French press or Kalita.
Perks: Remember the pastry chef? Tempting sweets from veteran Jason Morale linger behind the glass dividers in this 125-seat Seattle-style café, including house-made pop tarts with warm blueberry and pink frosting, cranberry-cherry scones and dulce de leche eclairs.
The Alchemist: 2430 NE 13th Ave, Wilton Manors, 515-981-6165, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Coffee highlights: Matias Jurgeit is the architect behind the Alchemist, the small coffee emporium amid the strip of orchid-covered shops in the Eucalyptus Gardens. Coffees and teas are served in mason-jar mugs wrapped in hose clamps and carabiners, and Matias grinds and roasts the coffee in-house, and brews it using the syphon-style method. All coffee varieties are served within 72 hours of being roasted.
Perks: Various jars and vessels inside give the shop the appearance of a mad scientist’s laboratory. The “slicers,” inventive sandwiches built with crusty bread, are made with smoked salmon, melted brie, tuna and turkey and Swiss.
The Seed: 199 W. Palmetto Park Road, Suite E, Boca Raton, 561-430-5640, TheSeedBoca.com, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Coffee highlights: Part cold-pressed juice bar and part café, co-founders Rachel Eade and Carly Altier source their coffee beans from Boca Raton-based roaster Wells Coffee Company. There are espressos, lattes, cortados and cappuccinos on the menu, but also alternative brewing methods like Chemex and V60 and pour-overs.
Perks: Teas and smoothies dominate the menu, and juice blends worth trying include the Basil N’ Berries (banana, blueberries, almond butter, bee pollen and almond milk) and the OG (kale, green apple, lemon, cucumber). Chai latte, London fog and matcha green round out the varieties of eclectic teas.
Undergrounds Coffeehaus: 3020 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-630-1900, undergroundscoffeehaus.com, noon-11:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 4-11:30 p.m. Sunday
Coffee highlights: Owner Aileen Liptak relocated her shop from Fort Lauderdale to its current second-floor strip mall perch in 2011. The signature coffee: The adventurous Aileen Special, a random drink prepared after the barista pelts you with a quiz: Hot or cold? What flavors do you like and dislike? How do you feel about mint? The barista then disappears, adds a flurry of syrups and ingredients, and returns with a mystery concoction that always tastes good.
Perks: Undergrounds Coffeehaus' part-coffee shop, part-used bookstore and part-art gallery is a rec room for adults, stacked with bookshelves bearing Stephen King novels and thick tomes on World War II history. On most nights, activity spills out onto the Bourbon Street-reminiscent second-floor balcony, with patrons playing chess, Trouble, Risk and other board games. On a recent visit, a TV screened DVD episodes of 1980s sitcom "Alf." The lone in-house food is tater-tots, served in a wide-mouth coffee mug, which can be covered in cheese, bacon bits, salt, garlic parsley and horseradish.
Coffee District: 325 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 561-455-0541, facebook.com/coffeedistrict, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-midnight Friday, 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday.
Coffee highlights: The District takes great pride in its Dirty Chai ($3-$5), the east-meets-west concoction of chai tea and a shot of espresso.
Perks: This may be the only South Florida coffee shop that takes its beer as seriously as its coffee. There are always 18 craft beers on tap and at least 100 more in bottles. Every Monday night, beer geeks are invited to bring in a few bottles of a recent discovery or something home brewed to share with fellow craft beer drinkers. Owner Chung Seo also hosts beer tastings and tap turnovers. Friday night is karaoke night, when that craft beer fuels some pretty serious singing.
Your Big Picture Café: 5935 S. University Drive, 954-252-5644, yourbigpicturecafe.com, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Coffee highlights: Charlene Young's wellness shop serves five organic and fair-trade coffees and more than 50 loose-leaf teas.
Perks: Your Big Picture's new expanded space on the corner of Stirling Road and University Drive will offer yoga classes, weekly reiki circles, Saturday acoustic open mics and healthy living workshops, where customers can learn about mind and body focus, the laws of attraction and shopping for healthy cleaning products.
Java Boys: 2230 Wilton Drive, Shoppes of Wilton Manors, 954-564-8828, facebook.com/JavaBoysWiltonManors, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Coffee highlights: Owners Steve and Nicki Rose source the finest, sustainably grown coffee from around the world. The most popular beverage is a caramel macchiato.
Perks: Java Boys is the definition of a community coffee shop with something for everyone: speed dating, movie night, live music and poetry readings. The Roses invite a different artist every month to exhibit and sell their work in the store. It's also one the few spots on The Drive, as folks here call their main street, where you can socialize without alcohol. Be sure to stop by for election night watch parties, when the gay community comes out in force. The biggest non-coffee seller is something called the Java Scrambler ($3.50). These made-to-order breakfast sandwiches start with scrambled eggs served on a bagel, croissant or bread with cheese, bacon, sausage or ham.
Next Door: 537 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-357-3934 facebook.com/brewnextdoor, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Sunday (Brew Urban Café); 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday (Next Door bar)
Coffee highlights: Josh Miller's graphic design firm C&I Studios partnered with Brew Urban Café co-owners Robert and Daniella Denison to open this coffee outpost in the next-door warehouse space. Miller recommends the "Angelino," a cup of pour-over style Intelligentsia Coffee served black.
Perks: Next Door resembles a library in your eccentric uncle's Victorian home. A backsplash of bookshelves stretch floor-to-ceiling behind the bar, a silver Airstream trailer sits nearby, and wooden tables with mismatched wrought-iron chairs and barstools are scattered about. On weekends, the 8 p.m. staff change-over signals the opening of Next Door's bar, which serves craft cocktails (example names: the Aaron Sorkin, the Maya Angelou) in mason jars and champagne flutes.
Panther Coffee: 2390 NW Second Ave., Miami, 305-677-3952, panthercoffee.com, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; also at 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale (at Stache bar), 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.
Coffee highlights: Husband-and-wife owners Joel and Leticia Pollock opened their Wynwood roaster in 2010, sourcing their beans from El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia. They've since added locations at Sunset Harbor and Little Haiti. Further north, Stache bar began serving Panther brews on Dec. 15.
Perks: "It's not like flying a helicopter, but the steps to brewing a good cup are pretty involved," says Joel Pollock, describing the ways Panther makes its coffee, which include vacuum pot pour-overs, French press and drip-brewing. In Wynwood, the shop delivers poetry nights and open mics every second Monday, plus live music in Sunset Harbor. Empanadas, croissants, granola bars and loose-leaf teas come from local vendors.