A Panther isn’t just Florida’s state animal or the mascot for Miami’s hockey team. Thanks to Leticia Ramos Pollock and husband Joel Pollock, the endangered species also epitomizes a coffeehouse in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District that helped answer an increasingly beguiling question: where does coffee exist in South Florida that doesn’t require rivers of milk and sugar to taste good?
The couple previously worked in Portland, he as shareholder in, and coffee roaster for, Stumptown. She’s a longtime coffee pro from Brazil who last worked as trainer for Ristretto in Portland. They opened their roastery last December and served coffee from a makeshift bar in front of the building during Art Basel 2010, then opened full force in June 2011. It’s been an eventful year for the Pollacks, who also have a three-month-old daughter named Luciana. Is she a future barista?
Outside, Panther features planters of ferns and orange seats, plus a colorful cold brew coffee cart, which lies in wait for events. Inside, the space includes concrete floors, orange bubble lanterns, a blonde wood bar, counters and tables, plus paintings on the walls. Joel Pollock roasts on a 10-kilo 1927 Perfekt roaster from Germany, which resides in the southwest corner.
My first taste of Panther from my three-day coffeehouse residency was a creamy, bright shot of Espresso Single Origin ($2.75) little flecking from Brazil Fazenda Esperanca, grown by Souza Family in Campis Altos, MIna Gerais. This blend, which a barista pulled on a two-group Synesso, conbined micro lot Brazil, washed El Salvador and a bit of seasonal Africa.
My November 28 caffeine frenzy led from espresso to a 12 ounce Kenya Kanzu Bourbon from Nyamashake, brewed on Clever ($3.50). My preference is typically for Hario V60, since that results in a cleaner cup that isn’t quite as sooty, though this brew was pretty enjoyable. My final taste was of chocolatey cold brew, a blend of micro lot Brazils that arrived on the rocks.
Mandarin, a wholesale donut shoppe, crafted Boston cream, jelly, chocolate hazelnut, apple and pistachio donuts for Panther. Pistachio would have been my pick on November 29, but Panther only bought one that day, and of course it sold out. Panther also sold two savory scones: maple pear and Manchego thyme. My choice was the latter, and it wasn’t exactly coffee friendly, but did taste good.
Pourover Finca Nombre de Dios from the Botto family in Metapan, El Salvador, paired well with Food GPS posting. On my final day in Miami, November 30, they prepared a Hario V60 pourover of the Fazenda Esperanca, which was enjoyable, but translated even better as espresso.
Other local coffee roasters revealed themselves during my visit to Miami, but Panther distinguished itself as the city’s superior coffee purveyor, and will undoubtedly be my coffeehouse of choice during subsequent visits.