Coffee Shop Stops
Writer / Doug Gelbert
It is a coffee-drinker’s world these days. Do you prefer French Mission Arabica beans or Hawaiian Kona? Which boutique Columbian hillside farm does your brew come from? How do you prefer your coffee fruit processed?
Florida is the main battleground state for Starbucks (12,000 locations nationwide) and Dunkin’ Donuts (7,500) but while those caffeinated behemoths slug it out, a more sophisticated coffee culture has emerged in the Sunshine State. What kind of coffee town is Fort Myers? Let’s look at some of the local been roasters who serve the 64 percent of Floridians who enjoy at least one cup a day.
Bennett’s Fresh Roast
2011 Bayside Parkway
Located on the cusp of historic downtown Fort Myers, Bennett’s Fresh Roast is a slice of Old Florida, brewing up 800 pounds of fresh-roasted coffee a month in a low-slung, palm-shaded house that was built in 1943. Founder Bob Grissinger started the business in 2008 after wrapping up a 14-year run on Wink-FM, where he was known as morning radio personality C. David Bennett. The aroma of roasting coffee beans mingles with the piping hot trays of donuts bursting with such unique flavors as orange coconut and maple bacon. The Bennett’s Donut Dog, which Grissinger conjured up on the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown, boasts of an applewood-smoked tube steak nestled inside a “long john” donut cracked down the middle.
The Grind Coffee House and Roaster
16250 Sumerlin Road, Unit 101
What they are known for: wide assortment of coffee beans and loose teas
The Grind roasts its international selection of coffee beans on site including Burundi and Kenya AA from Africa, Sumatra FTO and Papua New Guinea A/X from Indonesia and Colombia Supremo and Guatemala Antigua from the Americas. You get the idea – lots of choices. If you have a favorite coffee-growing region, you will likely find your bean at The Grind. Hot and cold coffees and specially-brewed tea selections bring the world’s culinary tastes to two suburban Fort Myers shopping centers. If you can’t decide and don’t have time to try them all, The Grind will ship coffee beans, tea leaves and accessories back to your home kitchen.
1617 Hendry St.
What they are known for: Café Cubano
Owners Mike and Sara Peters brought handcrafted coffee to the downtown historic district in 2015 when they opened up shop in the southwest corner of the R.Q. Richards Building. In his day, Richards, the man most responsible for bringing major league spring training baseball to Fort Myers, served up malted shakes at his Royal Palm Pharmacy. The coffee concoctions from the Java House spring from a special roast prepared by a local Cape Coral company. The Java House Blend is a caffeine cocktail of beans grown in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia. The signature Café Cubano is built with pure brown sugar whipped into a stream of espresso and finished off with an injection of steamed milk. Enjoy one with a pastry or scone baked on the premises.
Sweet Bean Coffee Cafe
What they are known for: grilled cinnamon bread
Sweet Bean Coffee Cafe has built a loyal breakfast and lunch following on McGregor Boulevard with its enchanting selection of beans at the coffee bar and fresh-baked cakes, all served amidst a cozy dark roasted wood decor under Tiffany lamps. The grilled cinnamon bread earns universal raves and is often teamed with the toffee coffee on languid Fort Myers mornings. The menu is constantly being updated. A recent alliance with Love Boat Ice Cream, a Southwest Florida institution for almost half-a-century, brings lunchtime noshers the insanely tempting Love Boat Dessert Bar. Whether it is a Denver omelette, corned beef hash, or crustless quiche, everything in the Sweet Bean bistro is prepared fresh.
What they are known for: imaginative baked goods
A cozy oasis tucked off of the hyper-activity of Tamiami Trail, diners can enjoy outdoor seating on nice days or a comfy couch indoors. Kate’s maintains a take-a-book, leave-a-book library for those who wish to linger over their morning meal. Owner Kathleen Marteny, a Bayside, New York native, opened the eatery in December of 2011 after stints in a few bakery kitchens and resort hotels. The atmosphere inside Kate’s Cafe is equal parts bed-and-breakfast and aromatic bake shop. Kate’s prides itself on serving products from locally sourced businesses, including coffee from Java D’oro. All the coffee choices are dispensed from a smoothie/coffee bar and patrons can also try iced lattes and drinks.