Pensacola, Florida
Monday October 20th 2014

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Coffee Talk

A Guide to Navigating the Grounds of Pensacola
By Hana Frenette

Finding the perfect cup of coffee can be a troublesome task.  You’ll encounter the overly bitter, the watered down, and the syrupy sweet- or perhaps the ultimate offense; coffee grounds in the cup. Thankfully there are a quite a few places around town that know how to pull a good shot of espresso or prepare a decent cup of coffee.


The Drowsy Poet Coffee Company
86 Brent Lane
696.2887

Although slightly out of the way, the Drowsy Poet offers what may be the best macchiato in town. A true macchiato is sometimes hard to find because the traditional preparation is often ignored. Espresso is poured over the top of a drink, once the milk and possibly syrup has been added to the cup, versus a latte, where the espresso, syrup and milk are all stirred together and then topped with milk foam.  The Drowsy Poet prepares them the traditional way, which is called “layered,” but also offers you the option to have it stirred. The Drowsy Poet also roasts all of their own beans in their roasting room near the front of the shop.

End of the Line Café
610 E. Wright Street
436.0336

End of the Line Café has one of the better drip coffees in town. Always a blend of some organic, fair trade bean, their coffee is usually rather smooth and of a medium roast. It’s only $1.50 for a bottomless cup. The only thing is, they don’t have half and half, or any other kind of creamer. They have soy milk, which still tastes good, but takes more of, so you’ll end up drinking a cup of half coffee, half soy milk, if you’re trying to get the flavor right.  Or, you can cowboy up and drink it black. Their coffee is one of the easiest to get down without any of the popular amenities, so if you’re looking to cut out some sugar from your day, or just hate having to stand at the mixing counter, fumbling to find a clean spoon or some fresh milk, this is the place to do it.

Breaktime Café
34 Palafox Place
433.5333

What Breaktime Café lacks in atmosphere, they make up for with their coffee. Not that their atmosphere is bad, perhaps just lacking in the non -fluorescent lighting area. Breaktime Café is the only coffee shop in town that specializes in the Cuban espresso drink, the Cortadito. The Cortadito is made by sweetening the espresso and then blending it with half and half. You can ask for a different milk option if you think the half and half will be too heavy, although it does alter the flavor of the drink. Espresso is blended with sugar until is becomes caramelized, and is then mixed back in to the drink. It’s an art form as far as coffee goes, and it is not the best drink to order if you are in a hurry. It only takes a few minutes more than the other drinks, but it’s worth the wait.

The Leisure Club
126 Palafox Place
912.4229

This is definitely the place for coffee aficionados. Intelligentsia, a third wave coffee roaster out of Chicago, supplies their coffee. The Leisure Club does not have any flavored syrups, except for a mocha mixture. There are no vanilla lattes or caramel macchiatos here. If you want a latte, whether its iced or hot, it will come with strategically steamed milk and expertly prepared espresso. That’s it. They are very proud of the subtle flavors in their coffee and prefer to let them stand alone, rather than mask them with something saccharine. The Leisure Club offers wonderful coffees and espresso, but is decidedly not for everyone. Some people like sweet coffee, or at least the option of choosing a flavor. Some people prefer to sit back and pick out the undertones of where their coffee came from, much like wine. If you’re the latter, you’ll appreciate what the Leisure Club has to offer.

Starbucks and Gas Station Coffee
If you’re in a hurry, as almost everyone is, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a quick cup of coffee at the drive-thru or the gas station. Starbucks, although their espresso is ground and prepared automatically by a machine, still offers a very reliable, consistent cup of coffee or latte. You know what you’re getting at Starbucks.  If you have to resort to the gas stations, know that Tom Thumb’s and Circle K’s by far have the best options for coffee. They usually have fairly decent drip coffee, and a plethora of fancy instant coffees from the machine. Sometimes you just want a 69 cent cup of coffee, and that’s ok. Just don’t forget to stop filling your cup when it’s 3/4’s full or you won’t be back until the burn on your hand has healed and the shame has subsided.