Bean town: a coffee shop guide

Enrique Usales the manager of La Provence Artisanal French Bakery Café. Photo: Peter Andrew Bosch.

In a coffee culture dominated by the cortadito, café con leche and colada, there are relatively few dedicated, independent coffee shops — locally owned places where one can grab a hot cup of joe or maybe a cold blender drink, order a pastry or sandwich and sit down with a book, a newspaper or a friend for hours. Here are three we like.

La Provence Artisanal French Bakery Café: This French bakery-café started out in Miami Beach, and has grown to five Miami-Dade locations in 11 years. The latest, on Biscayne Boulevard, is generating a buzz among residents and workers in nearby condos and storefronts.

Order at the counter after browsing the glass case of colorful sandwiches (baguettes, croissants, wraps, paninis), lunch salads (Caesar, cobb, niçoise, salmon) and sweets including chocolate éclairs and crème brûlée. There’s a wide selection of teas, juices, Lavazza brand Italian coffee and espresso-based drinks. Service is quick for those in a rush, but if you have time, take a seat by one of the big windows and people-watch on the Boulevard.

La Provence, 2200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; plain coffee $1.45-$2.35, espresso drinks $2.70-$3.95, sandwiches
$6.50-$7.95, salads $7.25-$8.95, sweets $3.75-$4.25; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; free lot parking and local delivery; no wireless Internet; 305-576-8002,

Sweat Records: When this independent record store expanded late last year from a storage room at
Churchill’s Pub to a larger space next door, owner Lauren “Lolo” Reskin added a full coffee shop with a bohemian, D.I.Y. vibe.

Coffee is organic and Fair Trade-certified, served in cups made from recycled paper with a choice of soy, rice or organic cow’s milk. Besides the usual combinations of espresso and steamed milk, there’s the Devastator, a super-strong $5 shot; made-to-order French-press coffee, and Numi brand flowering tea, served in a glass pot for sharing at the square tables and comfy couches.

Forgot to bring a friend? The walls are lined with browsable CDs, records, books and magazines (PostSecret, Adbusters, Bust), and the coffee counter is a one-stop shop for posters and flyers about local concerts and art events. Sweat screens independent movies at 8:30 p.m. Mondays (next week it’s Wholphin, a quarterly DVD magazine of short art films from McSweeney’s), hosts a book club and occasionally has local bands perform in-store.

Sweat Records, 5505 NE Second Ave., Miami; espresso drinks $2-$4, French-press coffee $2.50-$3, tea $2-$6, snacks
(vegan cookies, vegetarian jerky, nutrition bars) $1.50-$3.50; noon-midnight daily; free daytime parking in Churchill’s Pub lot; free wireless Internet; 305-758-5862, ext. 5;

Café Demetrio: A European-style coffee house just steps from Miracle Mile in downtown Coral Gables, Demetrio is a cozy spot where you can lounge for hours at wooden tables inside or catch up with friends in the busy backyard patio. There are often chess games in progress.

Order and pay at the register as you enter and then wait at your seat to be served. The shop brews Lavazza coffee and has the regular espresso-based options plus the Café Leo (sweet, creamy latte with caramel and hazelnut) and Café Demetrio (sweet cappuccino), all available iced, plus smoothies, teas and juices. Hungry? There are omelets, empanadas, muffins and bagels for breakfast; soups, sandwiches, salads and wraps for lunch and apple strudel or cheesecake anytime. Departures from coffee-shop standards include a gyro pita sandwich, Mexican chicken sandwich and hummus platter.

Café Demetrio, 300 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables; drip coffee $1.50-$2.25, espresso drinks $3.25-$3.85, teas and
juices $1.75, breakfast items $1.50-$3.95, lunch items $6.95-$9.50, sweets $2.50-$3.95; 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; metered street parking; free wireless Internet; 305-448-4949,

Got a favorite coffee shop? Leave a review!

Published: 8/08


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