Around the world a new generation of coffee shops are becoming community players. We meet the baristas who make their ’hoods and get their urban picks.
In a city known for its takeaway windows and cafecitos, Panther Coffee invites coffee lovers to linger and learn about the origin of their beverage from farm to plate. The small roastery and café is the dream of husband and wife team Joel (roaster) and Leticia Ramos Pollock (barista), below. They moved from Portland, Oregon to Miami with a 1920s 10kg German roasting machine in tow, to set up shop and open Panther Coffee in May this year. With 20 years in the coffee trade, they are passionate about what they do and carefully train each of their baristas in-house.
Enter the building and you’re greeted with the vintage, cast-iron Perfekt roaster holding court in the corner. Step up to the bar to select a freshly roasted bean from a coffee region of your choice –there are also seven different brewing methods, from standard drip to AeroPress. Sweet and savoury small bites created by a local Cuban and French-trained pastry chef are also on offer along with public cuppings and coffee classes.
2390 NW 2nd Ave, + 1 305 677 3952
Leticia Ramos Pollock, co-owner of Panther Coffee, is skilled in latte art, creating intricate patterns from coffee and milk. The Brazilian native schools customers on region, vintage, variety, producer and even on how the type of brew can alter a bean’s flavour profile.
Tucked squarely between the Design District and Downtown Miami, Wynwood Art District is a burgeoning enclave of abandoned warehouses, galleries, eateries and converted lofts. Original residents of the area refer to it as “Little San Juan”, after the Puerto Rican immigrants who arrived here in the 1950s.
“Good for fresh local Puerto Rican food. I order the bistec empanizado and Joel likes the camarone enchilado.”
278 NW 36 Street,
+ 1 305 576 5170
“We go here for the Frenchman’s sandwich made with fried eggs, rocket, Boursin and ham.”
28 NE 29th Street, + 1 305 573 9678
“Their speciality, Thea, is made with gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and truffle oil, topped with rocket.”
2506 NW 2nd Avenue,
+ 1 305 438 0488
“We always meet friends here. Joel orders the AVAF: Bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters with a cherry soaked in Meyer’s rum at the bottom.”
2550 NW 2nd Avenue,
+ 1 305 722 8959
“This gallery is a 4,181 sq m warehouse exhibiting photography, video, installation and sculpture.”
591 NW 27th Street,
+ 1 305 576 1051
With choices limited to sub-standard chain stores serving average coffee, until recently Singaporeans weren’t terribly discriminating coffee-drinkers. 40 Hands is the latest in a wave of speciality cafés to open up in the past few years and give Singapore a much needed 21st-century coffee fix. Founded by Australian Harry Grover who injected his knowledge of Australian café culture into the Singaporean market, 40 Hands has a loyal clientele.
Located in a 1950s residential block in Tiong Bahru, 40 Hands takes its name from the fact that it takes an average of 40 pairs of hands – from plantation owner to barista – to turn coffee beans into coffee. Customers appreciate its dedication to quality – Grover only uses beans that are less than two weeks from their roast date. “I only buy from roasters that have sustainable practices as part of their core business model. We rotate one or two single-origins through the menu to offer customers different taste experiences. Right now, we have a Sumatran single origin and a Brazilian single origin, both with markedly different tastes,” says Grover, adding firmly, “but there are no ice grande frappucinos here.” From the queues inside, it’s clearly a formula that works.
78 Yong Siak St, 1-12 Tiong Bahru, + 65 6225 8545
Harry Grover, owner of 40 Hands, left a job running his family business in Perth to set up a speciality coffee café in Singapore. Over the coming year, he is planning more coffee projects.
Singapore’s young professionals and creative types are flocking to Tiong Bahru, drawn to its mix of slick condominiums, sublime hawker stalls and old-world provisional shops in mid-1930s buildings and a string of early 1950s Art Deco flats. Minutes from downtown Singapore, this neighbourhood is on the city fringe yet it has a low-key residential atmosphere with a sense of history.
“I’ve always loved their slightly off-beat selection.”
9 Yong Siak Street
+ 65 6222 9195
“My guilty pleasure is Cheng Delicacies’ yummy fried chicken chop rice with curry sauce.”
27 Yong Siak Street,
+ 65 9748 9135
“Famous for its fish steamboat but I love their spring chicken with spiced salt. After a really hectic week at 40 Hands, I sometimes bring my staff here.”
82 Tiong Poh Road,
+ 65 6323 6093
“The rooftop bar at Wangz hotel is probably Singapore’s most under the radar.”
Wangz Hotel, 231 Outram Road, + 65 6595 1388
“I think the charcoal-fired fish porridge at Ah Chiang’s Porridge is the best in Singapore. They’re open until midnight.”
Blk 65 Tiong Poh Road, #01-38, + 65 6557 0084
New York’s Chinatown is one of the city’s most distinct neighbourhoods. With storefronts indecipherable to those unversed in hanzi and streets filled to the brim with Asian delicacies, there are few places to get common conveniences like a coffee and a good loaf of bread.
The opening of Nolita Mart last winter addressed both absences. A food market in the A rear, featuring produce from local farms and businesses, is entered through a perfectly planned coffee bar, serving up hand-poured filter coffees using Stumptown roasts and perfect pastries from nearby Ceci-Cela. Owners James Fong and Selina Ho designed the space with designer Justin Wootton, and the café is now packed with both locals and visitors in search of a good cup of coffee.
156 Mott Street, + 1 212 966 8883
Barista Vanessa Bucci first started making coffee a decade ago. Now at Nolita Mart, she’s most frequently asked for traditional cappuccinos and espressos. “It tastes fresher because we grind the beans for each order,” she says.
Nolita Mart is on the border of three different Manhattan neighbourhoods: Chinatown, Little Italy and Nolita. Near the shops of Soho, cafés of Nolita and galleries on Bowery, it’s an area where residents, businesses and hotels are moving to.
“We all love this place for lunchtime sandwiches. They bake the bread every day, and the place is still owned by the Parisi family.” 198 Mott St, + 1 212 226 6378
“It’s one of the best clothing stores in the neighbourhood. The owner has picked a great selection of pieces from small brands. It’s really well curated.”
205 Mulberry Street, + 1 212 925 1005
“Chinatown is full of massage and reflexology spas but it can be hard to navigate which are reputable. This one is next door, they start with a great foot massage and then do your back and shoulders too.”
158 Mott Street, + 1 212 219 9788
“This is the most popular dim sum place for locals in Chinatown at the moment, you have to get there early to avoid a wait.”
103-105 Mott Street,
+ 1 212 219 2338
“They always have a good selection of books and magazines there. It’s a great neighbourhood spot.”
52 Prince Street,
+ 1 212 274 1160
Every day, a substantial number of Birkastan’s residents pass through Mellqvist Kaffebar for the perfect espresso, a quick lunch or simply for a chat with owners Erik Mellqvist and Patrik Asplund. Established in 2001, in the past decade, the café has firmly established itself as the hub of the neighbourhood. “For us, this place is about so much more than just the coffee. Coming here should feel like coming home to us. That’s the welcome you should get,” says Mellqvist.
That said, many come for the coffee too. Mellqvist orders his beans from David Haugaard’s microroastery in Stockholm and uses a Synesso espresso machine. The water is purified to achieve the purest and smoothest coffee possible. Mellqvist Kaffebar is also famous for its sandwiches. The egg-caviar-chive sandwich on rye bread with raisins is an all time favourite. “The other day, one guy came in and ordered 13 of them – nine of which he ate himself,” says Mellqvist.
Rörstrandsgatan 4, + 46 8 60 23 80
Erik Mellqvist runs the bar together with Patrik Asplund. A skilled baker, he is passionate about both coffee and bread, but puts an equal emphasis on service. He has no strict opening times but starts serving as soon as he arrives at the café at around 06.00.
Rörstrandsgatan runs through a cosy residential area in Stockholm known as Birkastan and is popular among young people and families. The streets are lined with stone buildings, restaurants and small specialist stores selling clothes, food, vintage furniture and cigars.
“The optimal food store where you can pick up great quality groceries.”
St Eriksplan 2, + 46 8 33 01 20
“Serves real sausages in a baguette with sour cabbage.”
Karlbergsvägen 66, + 46 8 31 17 71
“Run by two young guys – Joakim and Christer Wickholm – who are very professional. Homemade food and good quality fish and seafood.”
Karlbergsvägen 67, + 46 8 30 10 71
“A small boutique selling vintage from the 1950s. The window display is always beautifully done.” Rörstrandsgatan 11,
+ 46 8 31 03 34
“The sushi at restaurant RAW is not too big and it’s delicious. Their fried shrimp, served on a rice bed, is another favourite.”
Rörstrandsgatan 9, + 46 8 30 96 80
In the busy lane behind Prahran Market lies Market Lane Coffee. Owned by coffee importer and retailer Fleur Studd in partnership with roaster/head barista Jason Scheltus, the 70-seat café provides welcome refuge from the frenetic market floor. Loved by market purveyors and locals, and lauded by coffee enthusiasts, the food menu here is deliberately thin, says Studd. “Just bread and jam. Our focus is speciality coffee.”
The back of house contains a small roastery and a dedicated “cupping” (tasting) room, where staff evaluate coffees daily. Scheltus roasts four times a week for the café and packages a range of beans, from origins including Tanzania, Ethiopia and Brazil, for customers to take home. There are bags of soft artisanal cane sugar from Costa Rica for sale, and a range of equipment for making coffee at home. The beans, in their green (un-roasted) form, are sourced direct-trade from coffee farmers. Imported by Studd’s wholesale business, Melbourne Coffee Merchants, coffee roasters across the country also clamour to buy their wares.
Shop 13, Prahran Market, (entrance on Elizabeth Street), South Yarra, + 61 3 9804 7434
Australian-born Jason Scheltus, co-owner of Market Lane Coffee (pictured top with business partner Fleur Studd), did a stint in London’s Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden as its trainee roaster for two years before heading home to establish Market Lane with Studd.
Awarded “most liveable suburb” by local broadsheet The Age, South Yarra is famous for its sprawling 19th-century mansions and terraced houses. Just 4km from the CBD, South Yarra is bordered by Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
The suburb is renowned for fashion retail and its fresh produce market, Prahran Market, established in 1891.
“I cook at home a lot and if I’m searching for anything unusual for a recipe this is where I’ll find it.”
Prahran Market, Elizabeth Street, South Yarra
“Australia’s preeminent mushroom specialist supplies Asian and European fungi to the local market. Damian deals in mushrooms of every shape and kind. I’m a vegetarian so I visit his stall regularly.”
Stand 116, Prahran Market, Elizabeth Street, South Yarra
“Ladro is consistently rated Melbourne’s best pizza restaurant. This is the restaurant’s second outpost. I love the pizza but the gnocchi with brown butter, sage and ricotta salata is my favourite dish.”
162 Greville Street, Prahran
“Peter Frangoulis buys green beans from Studd’s Melbourne Coffee Merchants and roasts them out back. This is where we send customers when they want a ‘real’ breakfast.” 169 Chapel Street, Windsor
“Proprietors William Tarlo and Philip Graham have been trading contemporary antiques and collectables in Melbourne for more than 20 years. We bought a couple of pieces for the café here.” 60 Chapel Street, Windsor
A showcase for pioneer Wellington roaster Coffee Supreme (see issue 32), Customs Brew Bar has the atmosphere of a mid-century domestic dwelling, with copious wood and miniature tiling. Customers choose from eight rare single-origin beans, weighed, ground and brewed to order. For those partial to an espresso, baristas will whip one up on the esteemed Slayer machine – one of only two in New Zealand. Roaster Justin McArthur also recommends customers select coffees from the four drip-filter methods on offer that celebrate the full sweetness and acidity of the Brew Bar’s premium beans. Choose from the Chemex, Swiss Gold filter, Hario V60 paper filter and cold drip filter.
Since the Brew Bar opened last year, rival Wellington coffee houses have rapidly followed suit with a choice of filter brewing options of their own. 39 Ghuznee St (off Cuba St), + 64 4 385 2129
Despite previous training as a chef, Ralph Jenner has worked at Coffee Supreme for the past five years. Before being appointed to manager and barista of Customs Brew Bar he spent two years training baristas, both at the company’s headquarters and on the machines at their own cafés.
The Cuba Quarter (Cuba Street and its environs) is steadily replacing nearby Courtenay Place as Wellington’s prime entertainment district. Ornate Victorian brick buildings house a growing concentration of bars, cafés and restaurants, and it is increasingly attracting upscale boutiques, galleries and specialist shops.
“The kooky American diner feel draws me here. Not many other places around Wellington offer Mexican and Southern American cuisine.”
5 Courtenay Place, + 64 4 385 4444
“I enjoy the many North American craft beers here. Only a few are on tap, but they’re ever changing.” 25 Taranaki St, + 64 4 384 7300
Property Of… is a far cry from the “coffee shops” that attract teenage hordes to less salubrious neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. With smart black awnings and marble-topped tables, the café overlooking the city’s Herengracht has a French brasserie feel. Whether you’re a tourist or a regular popping in to peruse the design and style magazines by the counter, barista Hendrik Stroscher and Melvin van Leeuwaarde will happy to serve you. The espresso is supplied by Asnakech Thomas, Ethiopia’s only female miller and exporter, and the croissants are picked up by Stroscher on his cycle to work – and it is all free. That’s because, although it may look like an upscale café, Property Of… is actually the European flagship store for the Singaporean men’s bag brand. All shop staff receive barista training. “The idea was to make the atmosphere less rushed and more friendly,” says Stroscher. Herenstraat 2, + 31 20 622 5909
Since its opening last winter, the eight-seat Le Marché St George has been doing top drawer turns with beans from local roaster Oughtred. Located in a 100-year-old corner house in the residential heart of the city’s artist-heavy Main Street neighbourhood, it’s very much a family affair. Janaki Larsen (an accomplished potter) and her husband Pascal (an expert in Chinese herbal medicine) own the business and source nearly everything on their retail shelves from within the province. Janaki’s little sister Klee consistently coaxes superior espressos from her Nuova Simonelli machine, and serves them up on pewter trays with pain au chocolat and croissants. Le Marché is a refreshing haven from the high-street chains, which boasts a queue that is as quick as it is cordial. 4393 St George at the corner of 28th, + 1 604 565 5107
Barista Klee Larsen is something of a perfectionist. “I’ve been known to throw out shot after shot in front of customers,” she says. Larsen grew up on the idyllic Salt Spring Island and came to coffee by bagging beans at the island’s roasting company.
In recent years, the traditionally working class area of Main Street has attracted young families and creative types of every stripe. Following them have been dozens of small shops, galleries and restaurants promoting products and artists and plating ingredients that are emblematic of the city and province.
“You don’t need to be shy about showing off your horrible billiards skills here.” 730 Main St, + 1 604 689 8645
“It has one of my favourite views of the city on a clear day.” 5455 Fraser St, + 1 604 325 2646
“Intimate, with ambiance.”
1898 Main St, + 1 778 737 5206
“The tortilla soup from Budgies Burritos.”
44 Kingsway, + 1 604 874 5408
“For great Lebanese and music.” 146 East 3rd, + 1 604 568 6727
Cariocas often complain that the Brazilian military have the best views in Rio and Copacabana Fort is no exception. Nestled in the centre is Café do Forte, the beachside brother of Rio’s original Belle-Époque coffee house, the Confeitaria Colombo. The Confeitaria empire is run by Mauricio Siss and his extended family, who have been using Cacique (meaning Chieftain) coffee since they took over Confeitaria Colombo in 1999.
Fans of the old-school Italia machines, they use Arabic beans grown in the southern state of Paraná that are passed through temperatures of 250C to remove impurities. The result is a coffee of delicate aromas that contrasts with an intense, bitter flavour, meaning the brand has become one of the most sought after in Brazil. A favourite hangout for made-up senhoras, lunch here often rolls through the afternoon, while the old guard plays backgammon in the shade of the almond trees, until Alejandre the pianist starts up bossa nova classics.
Praca Cel Eugenio Franco 1, Posto 6, Copacabana, 55 21 3201 4049
Employed by Mauricio’s family since opening in 2003, barista Almir Araujo can often be found deep in conversation with the clients.
Take one minimalist steel cube frame, drop it inside a traditional Japanese house, add to the mix some of the best coffee making in town – and end result? Omotesando Koffee. Forget green tea, it’s all about small brown beans at Tokyo’s latest hidden café gem, which fuses modern design with tasty coffee on a quiet Jingumae back lane. The setting is a 60-year-old traditional wooden house, complete with a small courtyard filled with momiji trees and benches.
Inside, owner Eiichi Kunitomo works his coffee magic within a kiosk-inspired steel cube in a simple space created by EDING:POST and 14sd. A paper chandelier by Ingo Maurer hangs in an alcove while cubed cups made from ground coffee by designer Ryohei Yoshiyuki are on sale.
Coffee consumption takes centre stage: 16-plus coffees are available alongside homemade kashi sweets – baked custard cakes (cube shaped, of course). Tapping into the “pop-up” trend, the café is not there forever: the property will be demolished next year – and Kunitomo will relocate his portable café cube to another interesting space. “There are few places in Tokyo that mix high quality coffee and good design,” he explains. “It’s an important combination.”
4-15-3, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, + 81 3 5413 9422,
Owner Eiichi Kunitomo has spent a decade perfecting the art of making the ultimate cup of coffee. His pursuit of all things coffee-related has taken him from the cafés of his native Osaka to Tokyo (he used to work at Bread, Espresso & ?) via a stint training with coffee-making masters on the Italian island of Ischia.
“Around the corner from Omotesando Koffee is Maisen, a local landmark tonkatsu restaurant housed in a former public bathhouse.”
4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, + 81 3 3470 0071
“This is a beautiful old wooden house, which has not changed for years and stands out from among the other concrete buildings.”
4-9-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
“This is where I used to work before opening Omotesando Koffee – it has freshly baked breads and tasty coffee.”
3-4-9 Jingumae, + 81 3 5410 2040
“A short walk away is Aoyama Kitamachi, an old apartment complex dating back half a century, believed to be the first Tokyo public housing built after the war. It will be demolished eventually due to age – when residents leave, no one currently replaces them.”
4-3 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku
“One of several small bars hidden in an old house, with good music and atmosphere.”
2-23-4 Jingumae, + 81 3 6804 5542