Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. races around the globe as a logo on a Formula One car sponsored by owner Michael Gesser. Take a break from the daily grind and relax in its North Miami branch with a cup of java and a pastry or pot pie baked in-house. The rich aroma of coffee wafts from the back, where huge burlap bags of beans wait their turn in the roasting room.
Gesser is from Long Island and got the travel bug at the University of Jerusalem in Israel. He discovered coffee on travels to Kenya, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala and Brazil. In Corvallis, Ore., he met Mike Sivetz, inventor of a fluid-bed coffee roaster. He bought the last one, moved to Fairbanks, and opened the original Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. two decades ago.
Last year he helped his sister, Karen Tuvia, open the North Miami branch. He buys fair-trade beans from sustainable farmers and roasts them in blasts of hot air from a gas flame that tumble the green beans and drop them from a chute into the cooling bin.
Coffees to try here include Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with a complex balance of floral and woodsy aromas and light clean flavor; full-bodied Sumatra Mandheling with hints of chocolate and licorice; mild, malty Panama Boquete; and sweet, rounded Oaxaca Mexican.
The mellow house blend of Milan San Remo is used in espresso drinks including the con pana double with whipped cream, café machiatto (steamed milk with espresso), mocha with white chocolate and iced frappe with a syrup flavor (caramel, hazelnut, vanilla).
Pair the caffeine with spinach quiche or pumpkin pie. The hot coffees here have come a long way from cold Alaska.