We admit the question may have teetered upon the unfocused: Who has the best coffee in Palm Beach County?
But you knew what we meant, dear readers, and there was nothing unfocused about your answers. Who has the best coffee, in brew and concept?
You voted resoundingly for Subculture Coffee, the small-batch roaster and hipster concept with locations in downtown West Palm Beach and Delray Beach.
“It’s really encouraging. As a business owner, you want your product to stand on its own,” says Sean Scott, Subculture co-owner and coffee roaster. He describes the response to his coffee and concept as a kind of “gravitational, community pull.”
Which is to say: a hit. (Also a hit were Oceana Coffee in Tequesta and the Common Grounds coffee shop in Lake Worth, which tied for second place.)
Co-owned by nightlife/restaurant czar Rodney Mayo, Subculture is both a local coffee brand and coffee shop. As a coffee brand, it uses beans harvested in far-flung places (as in Chiriquí, Panama, and Oromia, Ethiopia). Those beans are roasted in Subculture’s industrial Diedrich roaster and produce a wide range of fresh brewed coffee, diverse in flavor depth and weight.
This is not coffee that can be described as strictly bold or strictly high-octane. “Our coffee changes quarterly, due to seasonality,” says Scott. “I really focus on offering four or five different origins at a time, with each having unique characteristics. I try to roast to enhance those unique qualities in varieties.”
As a shop, its original location on Clematis Street has proven to be a game changer for that main drag’s 500 Block. Living up to its name, the shop has added a chill, creative subculture to the block.
There’s more than just coffee going on at Subculture – the place has nurtured a consistently caffeinated community and brought events like Tacos and Hip Hop to the block. All this in two and a half years.
And there’s more: Within weeks, the Clematis shop will double in size as Subculture expands into the locale next door.
The new space allows Scott the room to host weekly coffee appreciation classes, exploring everything from bean origin to processing technique to brewing.
“It brings coffee to the level of wine. We know that wine is complex. That’s what I want people to know about coffee,” says Scott, who plans to open the space sometime in October. “We want to move beyond the caramel macchiato and further educate our community.”
In West Palm Beach
- 509 Clematis St.; 561-318-5182; open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday to 2 a.m.
In Delray Beach
- 123 E. Atlantic Ave.; 561-808-8482; open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight