On my recent visit to my hometown of Miami, FL, I made a concerted effort to take my parents and older brother to a café I desperately wanted to visit: Panther Coffee. Voted Florida’s Best Coffeehouse in recent years, receiver of two Good Food Awards, and home to USBC finalist Camila Ramos, Panther Coffee is serious business in the specialty coffee industry and I couldn’t wait to go.
Walking down the street on a gloriously hot Miami afternoon, we find Panther Coffee, located on a corner in the Wynwood neighborhood, surrounded by graffiti-covered buildings that are home to art studios and marketing offices. Metal tables and chairs sit on Panther’s patio, and a large tree finds a place to lend its shade in the middle of them all.
Before any beverages have been consumed, I am already smiling. It’s a small, warm space: a few tables to the right; the register and bar directly in front of you; the roasting operations space at the far left; opposite the espresso machine, on the back wall, a long, tall table with several bar stools.There was a line, but it moved through quickly. I knew I wanted pick up a bag of beans and to have a cappuccino (standard protocol for new cafes), but I took a look at the menu, regardless. Panther has two blends for espresso-based beverages: West Coast and East Coast. The East Coast tasting notes were: creamy, soft, round chocolate with a sugarcane finish, sweet black cherry and ripe coffee fruit. The West Coast tasting notes were: sweet lemonade, malted chocolate, caramel, raspberry and concord grape with a round, velvety finish. I opted for a 6 ounce capp with the West Coast espresso for the first round of drinks. I picked up a bag of Nicaragua Finca La Amistad to bring back with me, as well. Brewed at home as a V60, it was tart and sweet, with notes of chocolate covered cherries and a dry finish. I was very pleased.
The cappuccino was delicious: smooth and creamy milk, a nice balance of sweetness and acidity with the West Coast espresso. My parents, who love that I work in specialty coffee and order 6 bags from the shop at a time, also ordered cappuccinos. My mom said it was so good she didn’t even want honey in it. Sitting outside in the warm summer air, we drank our coffee with delight and watched the neighborhood move around us. Even though it was my first time to Panther, it felt comfortable, like home.
Not only does Panther Coffee hit home on the coffee front, they also offer a great selection of beer and wine. Dad wanted whatever they had on draft, so my brother and I went back inside and came back out with a couple Wynwood IPAs (from the local Wynwood Brewing Company) and a can of Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing Company. A recent convert to the awesomeness of IPAs, these beers were brewed for summers in Miami. Bright and citrusy, notes of tropical fruit and spice from the hops, they were the perfect accompaniment to our cappuccinos. I also ordered an iced latte, this time with the East Coast espresso. It was sweet and delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
In typical South Florida fashion, afternoon rainclouds were moving in. Our cappuccinos had been consumed and our salted-chocolate cookies were enjoyed to their last morsel. I sipped down the last few ounces of my Wynwood as the first raindrops began to fall. My family made their way to the car and I returned my glass back inside, said parting thanks and farewells to the roasting team (I may have chatted with them for a few minutes earlier in our visit) and told them I would come again, maybe in a year or so. They may have thought it was strange, but if you truly love a space and the experience, you should tell those who helped make it possible.