Brew Urban Café: Finding Caffeinated Salvation in Fort Lauderdale

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Coffee Sign Fort Lauderdale

Brew Urban Café sets the standard for Fort Lauderdale coffee bars.

Sure, overly-sweet Cuban-style espresso drinks were easy to find, but after four days, it was beginning to look like South Florida may be a specialty coffee wasteland. Were there any places in the area featuring coffee that didn’t require at least two packs of sugar and a carton of milk for it to become palatable? Twitter respondents started to provide clues, hinting at good coffee in Miami’s Arts District, and the old fashioned interweb directed me to a seemingly viable option in Old Fort Lauderdale, Brew Urban Café. This place wasn’t far from my evening stop and ended up delivering one of the better coffee experiences during my week-long South Florida stay.

Brew has been open five years in the former home of Second Street Coffee. Bob Denison and Beck Hammontree took over Brew three months prior to my visit, with Denison already owning the other nearby Brew branch and continue to tout the Brew Philosophy on a plastic panel in back, including Exceptional Beans (no vacuum bags, ever!), Skilled Baristas (“great coffee can’t come from the push of a button”), Rich Espresso (“each one is closely timed and monitored for exceptional crema and taste”), Equipment Matters (“only the finest Italian espresso and coffee equipment, carefully calibrated to produce the best brew possible”), R-E-S-P-E-C-T Milk (“don’t even think about reheating!”) and Only The Best Will Do at Brew.

Art Fort Lauderdale

Décor includes plenty of colorful paintings.

Coffee Fort Lauderdale

Rachel, a longtime barista who survived the regime change, helmed the shiny yellow, three-group La Marzocco, which they arm with Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso.

Black and orange bags were a welcome sight considering Intelligentsia has pretty much been my touchstone coffeehouse since 2007.

Coffee Fort Lauderdale

Rachel pulled me a Doppio Espresso ($2.10) starring Black Cat that arrived in a ceramic cappuccino cup, but still tasted fairly bright and sweet.

My final taste was of cold brew Intelligentsia coffee, which sent my caffeine content into orbit, but tasted chocolatey and refreshing.

Brew was also featuring a Fetco batch brew of Intelligentsia’s El Diablo blend, a Guatemalan mix of Caturra, Catui, Typica and Bourbon varietals, plus a number of wacky-ish lattes with names like Good Karma, Electric Shock and Serendipity, and an Australia-inspired Flat White.

Brew must have an established reputation in the area, since during my visit, Alaska Coffee Roasting founder Michael Gesser was in the house. He just moved from Fairbanks to open a new location in North Miami, and lead barista, Naomi, joined him. They were talking coffee with Rachel. Maybe there’s hope for a South Florida coffee community after all.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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