Coffee

Sarasota Coffee Fix: A Caffeine Fiend's Guide to the Roasted Bean Scene

Get a taste of the local coffee culture with our guide to the roasted bean scene in Sarasota County.

It's a jittery job, but someone has to do it: Java junkies at Visit Sarasota sipped cups of joe all over town, from foamy cappuccinos to high octane cold brews, to taste test the Sarasota coffee scene.

Dark Roast Indulgence: Coffee and Dessert

We couldn't resist starting with dessert. These Sarasota County spots offer a diversity of espresso-style drinks just begging to be sipped with a sweet treat.

Cafe Venice Restaurant and Wine Bar is an upscale South County spot best known for its excellent wine selection — but don't make the mistake of skipping coffee and dessert. We recommend pairing an Italian roasted espresso with a cappuccino-gelato truffle, or an irresistibly foamy tiramisu-flavored latte.

An hour north of Sarasota, turn-of-the-20th-century Cuban immigrants shaped Tampa's Ybor City, a neighborhood famous for its cigars and coffee. Sarasota's own St. Armands Circle is home to a Columbia Restaurant location (the original was founded in Ybor in 1905 by Cuban immigrant, Casimiro Hernandez Sr), and proudly serves the Columbia's famous coffee — roasted locally in Tampa to this day. Try Columbia's cafe con leche alongside2018 a guava turnover, flan, or churros.

Cozy up for a cafe au lait and a pastry at C'est La Vie, located on downtown Sarasota Main Street or at University Park, Lakewood Ranch. This authentic French bakery and bistro offers an array of freshly-baked sweets, daily, including crepes, croissants, macarons, beignets, and brioche. Pair your pastry with an espresso and a side of people-watching from the vantage point of C'est La Vie's Parisian-style sidewalk seating.

At La Dolce Vita — "the sweet life" — it's tough to pass up the espresso when Italian desserts beckon. Balance the sweetness of Neapolitan cake or panna cotta with a rich, dark roast — or go all in for the gelato affogato al caffe: vanilla gelato topped with espresso coffee.

Need a quick and sweet caffeine fix? Pop into Gelato-Go in downtown Sarasota for an espresso, latte, or cappuccino, and choose from more than 40 flavors of gelato and sorbet to satisfy your sweet tooth.

From the folks behind C'est La Vie, Lolita Tartine offers up chic, French breakfast and lunch options in the up-and-coming Rosemary District of downtown Sarasota. Can't choose just one dessert? Try Lolita Tartine's Quartet of Sweets — one macaron, one mini fondant with ice cream, one mini pistachio creme brulee, and one mini chocolate mousse — and balance the sweetness with an espresso drink.

Looking for something sweet and boozy? We couldn't resist raving about the Gun Smoke cocktail at Jack Dusty: featuring Flor de Cana anejo rum, local cold brewed coffee from Java Dawg Coffee, apple cinnamon syrup, and egg white. Looking for a Java Dawg roast sans booze? Hit up the bakery at Morton's Gourmet Market any day of the week, or the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market where you can pair your cuppa with a PopCraft paleta for a sweet fix.

Sometimes you just want a foamy drink in a big, decadent mug — and a slice of pie. The Clever Cup in Gulf Gate is a casual, rustic style coffee shop that delivers with locally roasted coffees and espresso drinks with a side of local charm: pop in every first Friday from 6:00 'til 10:00 p.m. for "pie-latte" nights featuring live entertainment and, yes: pie.

Siesta Key's LeLu Coffee Lounge runs on island time and beach vibes. Start the day on a sweet note with a plate of pineapple-coconut pancakes paired with a cup of LeLu's tropical-inspired brews, like the Siesta Snow (Columbian roast with a hint of coconut, vanilla, and caramel).

The Coolest Beans: Hip Hangouts for Coffee Connoisseurs

Pour overs, cold brews, nitrogen-brewed coffees: there are plenty of tasty trends and traditions to experience in specialty coffee, and Sarasota has a spot to try them all. Keep up the trends and tuned in with the town buzz at these hip coffee house hangouts.

For a locally-roasted and ethically-sourced "Tree to cup" experience, check out Black Gold Coffee Roasters. Owner and roast master, Gary Lauters II, purchases beans from small community and family coffee growers around the world who are committed to environmentally-conscious farming practices. Visit the original shop in Venice to or pop into the new downtown Sarasota location at the BOLD Co-Work space at 1680 Fruitville Rd.

Located at the ground floor of downtown Sarasota's Palm Parking Garage, Sarasota's Buddy Brew is a popular spot for pour overs and cold brews from the celebrated Tampa-based craft roaster. For a "taste of Florida sunshine" that's delicious in any weather, try Buddy Brew's Old Florida Roast — a blend of citrusy Columbian and balanced Brazilian with sweet sugarcane notes.

Neighboring St. Petersburg-based Kahwa Coffee opened its first location south of the Skyway Bridge at the heart of downtown Sarasota in 2016, and quickly became a popular social hub known for its tasty brews. Get a caffeine buzz from Tampa-roasted blends while you catch up on the local buzz at Kahwa.

Chic, stylish and brand spanking new: The Overton arrived in Sarasota's Rosemary District in summer, 2018 and quickly established itself as a trendsetter. The Overton is a collaboration between State Street creator, Chef Christian Hershman, and Perq coffee bar owners, Erin and Eric Zolner — a crisp, airy warehouse-turned-coffee-shop-cafe space offering unique items like nitrogen brewed coffees and teas, soft serve vegan gelato, and traditional bistro-style bites crafted by Chef Hershman.

For an impeccable cup on the go, pay a visit to Justin Banister's Out & About Coffee mobile coffee cart wherever you can find him — near the east end of downtown Sarasota's Main Street, the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, and at outdoor events around town. Banister puts coffee house concepts on wheels, pouring a lifelong passion for coffee into every cup of cold brew and espresso.

Perq is the hip predecessor to The Overton, located in Sarasota's Southside Village, featuring single origin coffees are sourced from around the world with a rotating selection on bar. Perq offers high-end, precision brews, brewing supplies, and decadent dessert options.

Cozy Nooks and Brain-Boosting Brews: Coffee House Study Spots

With New College, Ringling College, and the USF Sarasota-Manatee campuses located within the same one-mile radius, there's rarely a shortage of students seeking a space to stock up on caffeine while they cram for exams — or unwind from the study-stress. Cozy up with a cuppa and a good read at these spots:

Tucked away in the north Sarasota neighborhood of Bayou Oaks, The Green Bean is an unassuming hidden gem where locals and students gather for affordable and healthy snacks, coffee and espresso drinks, cold pressed juices and smoothies, and plenty of homey nooks to settle into a study group.

Rumored to have originally been part of the Charles Ringling (of the Ringling Bros. Circus) estate, the 1920s buildings that house The Reserve coffee house and bookshop-cafe are steeped in history and quiet study nooks. Sip on local coffee, teas, kombucha and craft beer while you browse the bookshop, or find a quiet spot to hole up with a book of your own.

When it opened in 2017, Shelf Indulgence Used Bookstore Cafe filled the space that formerly housed the beloved hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, Big E's. Students are glad to have a study and pick-me-up space back in Shelf Indulgence. Mother-daughter co-owners, Donna Frey and Nikki Snyder, refurbished the space and added a book shop component to create a family-friendly, homey atmosphere with plenty of spots to curl up with a good read. The coffee shop at Shelf Indulgence brews coffees created by Sarasota-based and female owned Latitude 23.5° roasters.