The Brew That is True

The Coffee Shops of the Gables

April 2019

Ever since its discovery in Ethiopia by a traveling merchant (his donkeys supposedly went hyper after chewing the berries of a coffee plant), coffee has become an essential beverage. Whether it’s to wake up or relax, or just enjoy the robust flavor of the roasted bean, the beverage is huge – some 500 billion cups are consumed on Earth every year.

Here in the Gables there are innumerable places that serve coffee – virtually every restaurant, café and bar – but there are a select few shops that sell only coffee, or at least mostly coffee, with a few noshes on the side. It is their focus and their passion. Here are the best.

Café Demetrio

300 Alhambra Circle. Open till 6 p.m.

Café Demetrio occupies one of the oldest buildings in Coral Gables, the 1924 home of the Miami News. Today it is a distinctly Italian coffee shop, with vintage copper eagles atop their modern coffee makers. What makes it extra special is the shaded courtyard, where tables on coral pavers offer a picturesque place to sip your brew. Run by the ebullient Snr. Demetrio, the coffee is excellent. Lunch and breakfast is served, but we came for the signature “Café Demetrio,” cappuccino with a secret mix of cacao powder and milk, two shots of espresso and a bit of sugar. Molto delizioso.

Pasion Del Cielo Coffee

100 Giralda Avenue. 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Whereas most coffee shops brew only their one, best bean, Pasion offers customers a choice of source. You can pick between Pluma Oaxaca (from Mexico), Blue Mountain (from Jamaica), Java Kona (from Hawaii), or other varieties from Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Sumatra or Kenya. Each variety of bean, in clear plastic silos behind the counter, comes with ratings for Aroma, Flavor, Body, and Acidity. Sumatran coffee, for example, scores a
top 4 for all but acidity, which is at a desirable 1. We can only guess that it’s more popular than the Mexican coffee, which comes in at only 2 on all scales except acidity, at 4.

Crema Gourmet Espresso Bar

169 Miracle Mile. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 a.m. Sat – Sun

Like the name suggests, the coffee at Crema is, well, very creamy. It may be the way they steam the milk before adding espresso shots, but the “how” is less important that the “wow.” This is exquisite coffee, with the added benefit that you can sit not only inside, but also outside at one of a dozen tables sheltered by the columned arches of the Colonnade’s building. There may be no better place to sip coffee, certainly not along Miracle Mile. They also serve excellent breakfasts, sandwiches and salads at reasonable prices, all of which are promised to be at your table within seven minutes of ordering at the counter.

House of Per’La

2626 Ponce de Leon. 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Like many coffee shops, House of Per’La also serves sandwiches and salads. But otherwise this is a side-street shrine to the bean, a raw space (exposed ventilation pipes, raw concrete floors) that could have been airlifted from New York or L.A., with its three tables and nine “bar” seats invariably occupied by Millenials. It serves just one variety of coffee – bags of which you can buy for $16 – but it is damn good and will not dissapoint. When you visit, keep in mind that while the address says Ponce, the House is actually located on Almeria, in the back of the 2626 corner building that houses Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

Café Grumpy

2516 Ponce de Leon. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If House of Per’La is close to being a pure coffee shop, Grumpy’s takes it a step further. Outside of a few croissants, some banana bread and orange juice, it serves only coffee, in a narrow storefront south of Miracle along Ponce. “We’re mostly coffee focused,” barista Josep Lapalma told us. “The milk is well steamed, and the coffee has no bitterness.” The coffee is from Colombia and Central America and roasted in Brooklyn, where Grumpy was founded in 2005 (there are 11 in NYC). In addition to the usual cappuccinos and lattes, they have rotating specials, such as dulce de leche and orange mocha coffees.

Nordstrom Artisan Ebar Coffee

Shops at Merrick Park. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., noon to 7 p.m. Sundays

Nordstrom’s is generally not known for its coffee, but its Ebar in the Shops at Merrick Park is a caffeine oasis for the shoppers and residents of the area. It feels a little bit like an upscale Starbucks, but there is rarely a line and the coffee might even be better. Among other niceties, Ebar sources its bean from “Fair Trade” coffee plantations, and offers healthy snacks. For our money, nothing beats the dark chocolate mocha café. Not much seating inside, but outside there is plenty in the courtyard of the Shops.

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