Rodney Mayo and Sean Scott on Local Coffee Culture and the New Subculture Coffee in West Palm Beach
In the past few decades, Americans have had no choice but to live with a limited selection of coffee. There isn't much to choose from outside the good old double-D's or Starbucks. And it's that much more evident here in South Florida, where specialty coffee shops are few and far between.
2Dheart on Flickr Subculture Coffee will be the first to bring microroasting to West Palm Beach.
But thanks to Subculture Coffee opening in West Palm Beach on Monday, March 3rd, all that will change. As one of the area's first microroasters, Subculture will be brewing coffee craft-style in small batches, with specialty-sourced beans, and using precision roasting and brewing equipment.
Just as the rest of the beverage world has moved away from mainstream, high-volume production to embrace the local craft scene, coffee is just starting to evolve in a similar fashion. Like wine and beer before it, specialty coffee microroasters are proving beans can be just as complex and varied. Likewise, the sorry old coffee pot is no longer the best way to brew that morning cup, as fancy pour-overs offer a way to unveil more flavor and a smoother finish. The only problem: you'd never know there was life beyond your vanilla latte in Palm Beach and Broward County.
Luckily restaurateur Rodney Mayo and Habatat Coffee founder Sean Scott are hoping to change that. The two have partnered to develop the area's only microroasting facility outside of Oceana Coffee in Tequesta and Panther Coffee in Miami. Their vision: to open your eyes to coffee beyond that gas station sludge and fancy ordering system with their new venture known as Subculture Coffee located off Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.
"People tell me all the time I've ruined them," said Scott, who has over a decade of roasting under his belt and was well-known for slinging a fine cup of Joe at Habatat Coffee, now closed. "Once they've tasted what coffee is really supposed to be like, they can't go back."
Mayo and Scott don't subscribe to the "bigger is better" mantra. Scott, who recently sat down with Clean Plate Charlie to discuss Subculture, is a true artisan. He has painstakingly sourced beans from various regions across the globe, from Central and South America, to Africa and the South Pacific. For him, roasting is a passion that involves more study, knowledge, practice and skill than any other beverage-making process. Just a tick too high on the thermometer can mean the difference between a bitter, acidic cup or a sweet, smooth finish. At Subculture, he'll roast no more than three days -- and produce up to 25 pounds of small-batch picks -- each week.
"This is truly a craft. When you're roasting, it comes down to seconds. A few seconds too long at too high a temperature can mean the difference between finding the sweet spot [with that particular bean] or losing its unique characteristics altogether," said Scott. "It's a challenge, but it's also what makes [roasting] fun."
The idea to bring Subculture Coffee to West Palm Beach has been a longtime dream for Mayo, who told us he envisioned opening his own micoroasting facility since Starbucks came on the coffee scene in the early 70s. When Mayo heard Scott was planning on moving Habatat Coffee to a new location off Clematis, the two met and decided to combine ideas. Today, the plan is to provide each of the Subculture restaurants -- and even the surrounding area establishments -- with their own brand of Subculture coffee, with the hopes of expanding to open more coffee shops both regionally and nationally.