As Manhattan Transfer warbled in the song by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake,
“I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (boy!)”
Americans love our coffee, according to the Harvard School of Health, Americans drink an average of a quart of coffee a day with nearly one third of that consumption coming after breakfast. The amount of coffee we drink has remained fairly constant since the 1950s, however the way we consume it has changed. Nearly 70 percent of people get their coffee from outside the home, and nearly a third of those people get their coffee from premium coffee outlets. It’s a $40 billion industry; just take one look at the Starbucks on 26th for proof of that. I’ve often wondered if the folks go there for the coffee or the eye candy. Whatever the reason, there’s seldom a parking space in the lot. If you’d like an alternative to that corporate cup of Joe, check out these locally owned operations.
3446 NE 12TH Ave., Oakland Park
This small batch, specialty coffee roaster is housed in an attractively designed space near the Oakland Park Post Office. It specializes in smaller, single origin micro-lots of seasonal, current crop coffees. To say they are serious about the enjoyment and production of coffee would be an understatement. There are some pastries and snacks, but the focus is on java – so much so that they don’t even list a food menu on their website or Facebook page. There’s not much foot traffic around this space, making it a destination location. Open Monday - Friday 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday - Sunday 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
815 NE 13th St., Ft Lauderdale
This is the place that started the hipster coffee movement in Fort Lauderdale (and the rejuvenation of 13th Street). It’s so popular that they’ve had to expand the parking lot. (Psst! You can also park in the Pride Factory lot across the street.) On any given day it looks like the break room of a gay porn shoot –but that’s not the reason I go there, honestly! Owners Scott Ojeda and Blaise McMackin care about preserving quality joe from seed to sip. The large room can get noisy at times (how about adding some soft surfaces to muffle the noise, guys?). Breakfast plates and sandwiches run $5-$8; salads and sandwiches average $12. All pastries are baked in-house and there’s a drive-thru window. Warsaw also serves more than 20 wine varietals and 25 craft beers, and on week days from 4-7 p.m., happy hour prices are in effect which means $3 off house wines; $2 off all beer. Open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sundays 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
2430 NE 13th Ave., Wilton Manors
It may be hard to find, but The Alchemist is worth the search. (It’s tucked away on a side street behind what used to be Old Florida Seafood House.) In some ways it’s a throwback to the 1970s, but with a hipster vibe. Despite the ingestion of caffeine, the atmosphere is laid-back and relaxed. The seating is entirely outdoors, which can be problematic if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The Alchemist uses a proprietary brewing process and pure water to produce its coffee, and you can taste the difference at first sip. The menu options include open-faced sandwiches called "Slicers," priced at $7. Egg dishes run about $6 and salads are available for $9. In addition to standard pastries, Alchemist offers a number of gluten free desserts. Open 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily. The Alchemist’s location makes parking difficult, and there are rumors that the city wants to take over the property for the new commuter rail station, but we'll have to wait to see.
2230 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Call it the anti-hipster coffeehouse. The comfy spot features a few loungey chairs and a bank of tables along one wall, as well as a few tables outside. Service can be friendly or surly depending on the day, and mood of the staff. No matter the mood behind the counter, Java Boys welcomes customers to hang out, work, play games, socialize and even watch the occasional movie screening. It also serves as a place for business meetings and a gathering place for a number of groups (it’s hosted speed dating, biker Sundays, the Deaf Alliance group and Latinos Salud). Breakfast items are in the $4-6 range, sandwiches $7-9. There are also quiche, assorted pastries, cookies and to-die-for empanadas. Best of all, it’s open from early morning (7 a.m. daily) until late at night (Sunday –Thursday until 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays till midnight.)