Vice City Bean

Detail from the side of the Vice City Bean cold brew tricycle in Miami, Florida :seriously good coffee!The casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking that Panther Coffee is all there is when it comes to speciality coffee in Miami. However, the  coffee scene is slowly taking off, particularly over the last couple of years. It was a barista at Panther’s Wynwood branch who first put me onto one of these newcomers, Vice City Bean, which opened in April 2016, a few blocks south of Wynwood, just north of the downtown area.

It’s a lovely spot, with large, north-facing windows, high ceilings and lots of space. The coffee is all the way from Madcap in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while there’s a guest espresso, which was from Onyx Coffee Lab in Arkansas while I was there. These are available through a cut-down espresso menu with a range of alternative milks. If you prefer filter, there are two options on bulk-brew and three more on pour-over through the Kalita Wave, with offerings from Madcap and the guest roaster. Meanwhile, there’s cold brew and loose-leaf tea.

If you’re feeling hungry, there’s a range of cake and pastries, including savoury pastries. Add to that a small selection of empanadas and assorted toast-based snacks, so you are covered for breakfast and lunch.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On North East 17th Street, just off North Miami Avenue, you'll find Vice City Bean.
  • A long, thin unit, the left-hand corner is cut off. You'll find a pair of benches out here...
  • ... and Vice City Bean's cold brew tricycle.
  • The door is at the other (right-hand) end. This is a panorama from just inside the door.
  • There's a row of two/three-person tables running down the centre of the space...
  • Here they are from the other end.
  • There's more seating in the shape of two window-bars opposite the counter at the front...
  • ... and, beyond that, in the cut-off window in the corner, there's a solitary table...
  • ... followed by the long sofa with small, cylindrical coffee tables.
  • The counter is on the back wall, starting at the right-hand end...
  • ... while at the left-hand end, there's the remaining seating, a projecting counter-bar...
  • ... where you can sit on one of four bar-stools...
  • ... and watch the baristas at work.
  • Beyond the counter on the back wall are the retail shelves...
  • ... which include coffee-making kit and bags of beans for sale.
  • There are windows all along the front, and this one, in the cut-off corner at the end.
  • I was particularly taken by this plant. I don't know why.
  • At the other end of Vice City Bean is this, on the wall to the right as you enter.
  • The amazing, vibrant mural is worth more than a second look.
  • Despite all the windows, there are still plenty of light-bulbs...
  • ... many of which hang over the counter.
  • However, some also hang over by the windows...
  • Obligatory close-up of a light-bulb.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • The counter dominates the back of Vice City Bean.
  • Near the door, you'll find a display of cakes, with the menu on the wall above.
  • There's also fruit and granola...
  • ... while off to the right are savoury pastries.
  • There's also a small, toast-based menu for breakfast and lunch, plus the hand-brew beans.
  • The drinks menu is on the wall behind the counter...
  • ... while on the counter itself are the two bulk-brew options.
  • The bulk-brew is made at the back of the counter where you'll also find the filter grinders.
  • The bulk-brew is dispensed at the counter's left-hand end which is where you'll also find...
  • ... the Kalita Wave pour-over filters and the tea brewers.
  • However, I'd come for espresso. This is the La Marzocco GB5...
  • ... with its two Mythos 1 grinders (with the beans on top; ignore what's written on them).
  • I had an espresso, served with a glass of sparkling water.
  • My espresso was served in a handleless cup and had come all the way from Arkansas.
  • Another view of my espresso.
  • I got hungry before I left, so had a guava and cheese pastelito, served hot.
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Although the address for Vice Bean City is North Miami Avenue, one of Miami’s main north-south arteries (and the one which separates the east side from the west side), you’ll actually find the coffee shop around the corner on North East 17st Street. Although it’s just a 15-minute walk from at art district of Wynwoood, it’s a very different part of the city, much quieter and more residential. Similarly, it’s a very different space with a very different atmosphere vibe when compared to Panther Coffee.

Vice City Bean has a simple layout, effectively a long rectangle running along street, but cut-off at 45⁰ on the front-left corner where it meets Miami Court. There’s a pair of benches out here should you want to sit outside. Alternatively, there’s a pair of glass double doors on the right, followed by windows all along front and down the 45⁰ side. These run almost floor-to-ceiling, making it a very bright spot, although a shady one, avoiding direct sunlight.

The seating is at the front and down middle, with counter at the back. Although there’s a small bench against underneath the awesome mural on the right-hand wall, I’m not sure it’s a viable seating option. However, the pair of three-person window-bars to the left of the door definitely are. Next comes the takeaway station, opposite end of counter, then there’s a two-person cocktail table with high stools and a four-person scaffolding sofa with its back to the windows in the 45⁰ degree section. A row of four small, square tables runs between the windows and counter. The middle two are two-person, with a three-person table at either end.

There’s more seat at the end of the counter, which runs along the back wall, parallel with the windows at the front. The food/cake is first, followed by the till, with the menu on the wall behind. Next are two Mythos 1 grinders and a two-group La Marzocco GB5, with the espresso choices in bags on the top of the grinder. This being America, it’s counter-service only, with an open area to the left to collect your coffee

Finally, there’s a small raised bar with four bar-stools which wraps around the left-hand end of the counter. You’ll find a pair of bulk-brew flasks are here, then, behind them at 90 degrees to the main counter, is the pour-over/tea bar. Beyond the counter are a set of retail shelves on the back wall, where you’ll find retail bags of coffee, including some from Grand Circle Coffee, a Miami-based roaster in Little Haiti.

The house-roaster is Madcap, a roaster I’m familiar with. Instead I was drawn to the guest, Arkansas’ Onyx Coffee Lab. Vice City Bean used to have San Francisco’s Four Barrel Coffee on the second grinder, but following Four Barrel’s recent troubles, it has switched to a guest roaster, with Onyx’s Geometry blend joining Madcap’s Third Coast blend on the main grinder. This will change every few months, while the filter options, which are served in a glass carafe with a small mug on the side, are changed weekly.

I had the Geometry blend as an espresso, served in a black, handleless cup with a glass of sparkling water on the side. A well-pulled shot, I found it bright, and a little sharp, but not into pulling funny faces territory. Before I left, I was starting to feel hungry, so I tried one of the guava and cheese pastelito, a staple of South American bakeries. Guava is a fruit which tasted to me like a sweet pickle, which went really well with the lovely pastry.

UNIT C • 1657 NORTH MIAMI AVENUE • MIAMI • FL 33136 • USA
www.vicecitybean.com +1 305-726-8031
Monday 07:00 – 20:00 Roaster Madcap + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Bar, Counter, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 20:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 20:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 20:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 07:00 – 19:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 27th January 2018

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2 thoughts on “Vice City Bean

  1. Pingback: Pax Treme | Brian's Coffee Spot

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