We spend our lives searching for our destiny, while the universe conspires to help us achieve it. At least, this is the way of the world in Paulo Coelho’s internationally bestselling book The Alchemist. Such a reminder is artfully depicted on the wall of an enchanting cafe which shares its namesake with the very book it draws decorative inspiration from.
Sitting in the heart of Wilton Manors, an avant-garde city in the greater Miami metropolitan area, The Alchemist boasts an eclectic smattering of design and visuals to accompany an extraordinary coffee-tasting experience. This place of tranquil escape is framed by an outdoor garden where plants outnumber people and scattered splashes of color enchant the eye. At the entrance a lounging cat stretches out, paws outstretched as he languishingly claims an entire rickety, wooden table as his midday bed. In all of its vintage glory hangs a colossally empty birdcage, laced up into the intricate canopy of tree trunks hovering close by. Brightly hued umbrellas dot the landscape, providing seating and shelter from the sunshine beaming down from above.
Walk further in, and your vision is assaulted by an artful disarray of knick-knacks decorating the walls surrounding an outdoor roasting station. Here is where a team of fresh-faced baristas, who hand-deliver your drink to you with a smile, roast aromatic coffee beans that help make the spot so adored.
One of these grinning gentlemen is Loren. A 32-year-old longtime coffee connoisseur- with an infectiously cheerful demeanor to match – Loren used to work at a major coffee chain before he decided to leave and join the staff at The Alchemist. That was in March this year, and he hasn’t looked back since. “Before, when I would have a shift, I’d go to The Alchemist to have coffee and relax before a day of work.” Loren recognized the level of irony in that, and before long, he made the permanent switch. These days, he says he loves his job, mainly because of the “genuine simplicity and authenticity,” the cafe offers its visitors.
Back to the basics is the name of the game at this bohemian paradise. This is not a place for those who prefer to have countless variations of beverages to choose from. Aside from the standard macchiato, latte, espresso, and tea, there are only three other drinks on the menu: The Alchemist Iced Coffee, The Alchemist Bulletproof, and Syphon Coffee. All hail from the handmade roast that keeps grinding away all day long, and all are magnificent.
Still, there is one explicit star of the show: The Alchemist Iced Coffee. Served in a mason jar, the iced beverage is a fan-favorite in the crowd of guests. It entices with its dark, bittersweet flavor. Floating alluringly in your glass is another staple of the tropical oasis location: coffee ice cubes. Swirling together with condensed milk and sugar, delighting as a savory smooth explosion on your taste buds. Prepared by boiling coffee and freezing the cubes overnight, they add a sharp kick to the concoction that makes it heavenly to drink.
Carefree, content and caffeinated, I find a spot in the center of the outdoor area and sit back, artisan coffee in hand, gazing at the greenery dancing lightly in the wind. Out of curiosity, I look to observe the animated faces of the diverse visitors around me. Young, old, chic, and antique; there seems to be no status quo for this cafe’s customer. It’s a refreshing feeling to witness but comes as no surprise. There’s a subtle form of magic at play here, in the gardens of The Alchemist. It could be put down to the heavenly taste of the coffee, or the folksy scent of the rich beans as they roast onsite. You could even attest it to the quirky, one-of-a-kind decorations, or the zen, leafy ambiance of pathways littered with leaves. Whichever way you want to spin it, the universe is at work in this gated artist collective.
All photos by Emily Krings.
Ayurella Horn-Muller is a freelance journalist and self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur based out of Florida. A frequent contributor to Film Threat, she also writes for Elite Daily and Elephant Journal.