Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!
If you're anything like us, you'll be looking for a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning. In Key West, it usually means Café Cubano
or Cuban coffee. Maybe you'd just like to grab a quick cup to take along on your sightseeing adventures.
Or you could relax with friends in a funky little coffeehouse. You might want to do it like the locals; sip and perch at an outside coffee counter as you watch Key West wake up and start the day. Maybe you'd prefer to grab some custom blended and fresh ground coffee from a local roaster and brew it at your vacation rental home.
Whatever you decide, we have the local knowledge to help you find the best coffee in Key West!
ABOUT CUBAN COFFEE
This magic elixir starts with very darkly roasted Arabica beans which are ground to a fine powder. Baristas brew a generous quantity of the Cuban coffee grounds in a standard espresso machine. Then they add extra sugar unless
you request less (or none). Keep this in mind when you order your coffee.
In Key West, locals call this espresso shot a Bucci (pronounced BOO-chi)
. It's served in a tiny cup. You can slowly sip it and savor the taste. But the pros toss it back in a single gulp followed by an ice water chaser. Because of the generous portion of coffee grounds used per cup, this high-test brew really packs a punch. If you want a major Cuban coffee jolt order a Colada
you'll get 3 to 6 shots. Perfect for a morning wake-up dose or a late-night restorative.
Older Key West-Cubans, who grew up in Cuba in the 1950s, seem to prefer a colada
. But, if you want a mellower version of Cuban coffee, try a cortadito.
This is Cuban espresso
with a little steamed milk mixed in. Add more steamed milk and a little foam, and you've got a café con leche.
This concoction is the version you'll most commonly see the locals and visitors going for. Please keep in mind that Cuban-style café con leche
typically has a generous portion of sugar. Be sure to specify the amount of sugar you prefer.
Cuban Coffee Queen at the Key West Historic Seaport
WHERE TO FIND CUBAN COFFEE IN KEY WEST
Excellent authentic Cuban coffee is available in unexpected places all over the island. Keep your eyes peeled. You'll see little coffee shops with walk-up windows in shopping districts, corner bodegas, strip shopping centers, and even laundromats! If you ask the locals which one is the best, you'll get a variety of answers. Here are favorite places we recommend:
In one of those quirky locations we mentioned, Sandy's Cafe
is a walk-up window shop. It's at one end of a laundromat at the corner of White and Virginia streets, in the White Street Gallery District https://vacationhomesofkeywest.com/key-west-map-district-9.html
. Sandy's calls their shot of bucci "Cuban Speed". Take that as a promise or a warning but be prepared to get a buzz. They also offer all the other Cuban coffee variations. Bring your appetite too. Sample their mouthwatering Cuban sandwiches, warm and crispy fresh off the sandwich press. Sandy's famous Cuban Mix and Media Noche sandwiches are great for lunch, dinner, or late at night. In the morning, choose from a wide range of breakfast specialties. Locals love the pressed cheese toast on rich, crusty Cuban bread. Although Sandy's is a walk-up carry-out, if you're lucky you can grab a stool at the little counter. Enjoy your morning cafe con leche
while watching Key West life go by on this charming pedestrian shopping corridor.
5 Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop in Old Town Key West
5 Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop
Wherever you travel, everybody knows cops gravitate to the best coffee shops, and Key West is no different. Early in the morning, you are likely to spot a few police cars in front of 5 Brothers.
This little neighborhood bodega grocery in the Heart of Old Town
offers the usual convenience store inventory. But it features an authentic Cuban coffee and sandwich counter. At 5 Brothers you'll find a tantalizing array of custom-made sandwiches, Cuban pastries, and Cuban coffee options. 5 Brothers has been on the corner of Southard and Grinnell Streets for over 40 years! And since Southard leads directly into Fort Zachary Taylor State Park https://vacationhomesofkeywest.com/key-west-beaches.html
, this is the perfect place to pick up your breakfast, lunch, snacks, and sunscreen for your day at the beach!
Cuban Coffee Queen
With a motto like Drink more Cuban Coffee and Do Stupid Things Faster,
you know Cuban Coffee Queen (CCQ)
is a spot you're bound to love. The original Cuban Coffee Queen is in a little shack with a walk-up window at the Key West Historic Seaport. If you go, grab a selfie in front of the colorful Key West Postcard
mural on their building. Now there are three convenient locations
Old Town Key West, so you'll easily find one close by.
You'll also spot CCQ delivery scooters zipping about the island. They'll deliver their treats to wherever you may be. In addition to coffee, they offer a variety of other beverages as well as delicious sandwiches, salads, and sweets. Plus, they offer a special blend of roasted coffee beans and custom ground coffees. The perfect coffee to enjoy at your vacation rental
and take it home.
Cuban Coffee Queen, Historic Seaport, selfie sign
COFFEEHOUSES, CAFES, AND COFFEE SHOPS
It's true that Cuban coffee is an integral part of the Conch culture. But if you are looking for a different way to have your Cup of Jo in Key West. No problem... we've got you covered. Here are four of our favorite places to socialize, dine or just relax with a cup of coffee and more.
Keys Coffee Co.
Don't let the name fool you. Keys Coffee Co.
is way more than just a coffee shop. The beverage menu is fantastic and boasts amazing flavors. But you can also plan to enjoy a full meal.
The breakfast sandwiches are true standouts. They feature ingredients like house-cured salmon, scallion cream cheese, and flaky Cuban bread. With nine outstanding choices, you could try a different sandwich every day of the week. Pair one with a cold brew coffee, and you're all set for a day on the island. And be sure to take home a bag of their micro-roasted beans, whole or custom ground to your order.
Funky Rooster Coffee House, Caroline Street
Funky Rooster Coffee House and Wine Bar
Situated in a classic Conch-style house on busy Caroline Street, this place fits the description of a classic coffee house. Find comfortable seating inside and on the covered porch out front. The distinctive, fun decor featuring art by local artists, provides the perfect ambiance. In addition to expertly crafted coffee beverages, fresh pastries, and sumptuous quiches, the Funky Rooster
offers an extensive wine collection. Turns out, they can meet a variety of your desires anytime from early morning until 10 pm. Whether youre staying close by in the Historic Seaport Old Town District
or headed for a stroll along the waterfront just one block over, this is one Key West Rooster you'll be glad you met.
Red Buoy Coffee at Glazed Donuts
Next door to the Tropic Theatre, sharing a shop with Glazed Donuts is Red Buoy Coffee.
Just one block away from Starbucks, Red Buoy Coffee offers fresh coffee from a local roaster. Depending on the time of day, you can smell the beans roasting on-premises. Order classic espresso and a variety of made-to-order coffee beverages. Add your favorite flavored syrups and sugars made right in-house. You'll also find Red Buoy coffees served in better restaurants around Key West. It's also sold as whole bean or ground at the local Fausto's Grocery stores.
And now for the double whammy: Right across the store from the roasting area, you will find Glazed
, a craft gourmet bakery stocked with some of the best donut creations you'll find anywhere! Our favorite is the Key Lime Pie donut, stuffed with tangy pie filling and topped with browned meringue peaks. You may prefer the Maple Bacon, the classic glazed donuts, or one of the specialties. Take a seat and enjoy your coffee and donuts in the simple industrial café setting with giant robots on the wall. Delicious fun, indeed!
Red Buoy Coffee at Glazed Donuts
While technically not in Key West, Baby's Coffee
originated on the island. Baby's first opened their doors on Upper Duval Street
in a small shop. Back then, nobody else in Key West was professionally roasting their own beans. Baby's Coffee's stellar reputation quickly grew into a well-loved brand. Business boomed and they outgrew their downtown location. They boldly moved to Mile Marker 15 on the Overseas Highway and their fans followed. With a wide variety of custom roasts and blends
, it's easy to understand their continued success. At Baby's Coffee no doubt you'll meet your taste and minimum caffeine requirements. Rough night? No problem. Jolt yourself awake with a cup of Hemingway's Hair of the Dog
. You'll even find decaf options when you want a coffee nightcap.
Getting there is half the fun, and longtime fans of Baby's Coffee think nothing of taking the short scenic drive to score their favorite coffee. Visitors who drive to Key West frequently stop and stock up on their way into town. At VHKW
, we have repeat guests who ride bicycles up to Baby's every year when they visit. The stunningly beautiful Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
runs alongside the U.S.1 highway.
BAKERIES & PASTRY SHOPS
Can't imagine having our morning coffee without a freshly baked croissant, Danish, scone, or cinnamon bun? Let us recommend local favorite places where you'll find the freshest of these treats along with your coffee beverages.
Old Town Bakery, Eaton St.
Old Town Bakery
How about a traditional carryout bakery and sandwich shop where you can also find your coffee? Old Town Bakery
is a charming little historic shop at Eaton and Grinnell Streets. It has a bakery case chock full of treats made fresh every morning before dawn. Mouthwatering pastries, rolls, croissants, and scones entice you to try them all. Take your pick, and choose your coffee prepared the way you like it. Come back for lunch for a tasty made-to-order sandwich on oven-fresh artisan bread. If you find a favorite, better come early, as they do sell out.
Croissants de France
On the 800 block of Key West's bustling Duval Street be prepared to discover a little bit of France. Croissants de France
is a classic Old World French-style bakery and pastry shop. One display case offers elegant and enticing cakes, tarts, eclairs, cream puffs, and more. The other case holds a variety of croissants - plain or stuffed with sweet or savory fillings. Delicate and puffy beignets, fruit pastries, and decadent raisin rolls will tempt. Order traditional French or American coffees and your takeout continental breakfast is complete. For a relaxed sit-down breakfast, there's a garden in the back where you'll find the cafe, Le Bistro.
Order any item from the bakery or select from a full menu of crepes, Benedicts, galettes, pancakes, and other tantalizing breakfast delights.
La Grignote, Upper Duval Street
In the more elegant Upper Duval Street district
, discover another taste of France at La Grignote.
Choose from an extensive selection of pastries, bread, quiches, and sweet treats baked every morning on-premises, and of course your morning espresso or latte. Take out your selection of coffees and baked treats or enjoy a heartier breakfast on the side deck or the front porch. Should you choose to eat here, you'll be lucky to snag a seat on the front porch. A perfect place to people-watch as you indulge in delicious menu items including sandwiches, fresh salads, quiches, and more. Local favorite La Grignote will leave you delighted and satisfied.
Key West is a Cuban Coffee destination with amazing local coffee shops to choose from. VHKW wishes you many happy cups of coffee during your stay. We're confident you'll find a delicious Key West coffee at one of our favorite places. WHKW would love to hear about your own favorite coffee experiences in Key West.