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A new wave of coffee shops is taking over Tampa Bay — and they’re serving much more than coffee

We talked to some local spots about the distinct shift.

A couple of years ago, you couldn’t walk into a specialty coffee shop without seeing a pour over, the meticulously hand-poured brewing method that became synonymous with high-quality coffee.

Buoyed by passionate baristas and a more coffee-conscious consumer, a movement known as the third wave of coffee took hold of the caffeine-obsessed. Coffee became an artisanal product, more like fine wine and less like the Folgers you prep the night before.

Now, a new wave is taking shape in the Tampa Bay coffee scene. This one is focused less on the bean and much more on the experience a coffee shop can provide, one geared toward accessibility and community mindedness. Coffee as a vessel for connection.

We sat down with the owners of three relatively new spots across Tampa Bay to talk about the idea of the expanding coffee shop, how they’re crafting a more inclusive cafe experience and why they don’t serve pour overs.

Bandit Coffee Co.

Bandit Coffee Co. opened in 2016 at 2662 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

The shop in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central district opened in 2016, and has since steadily built a loyal following that seems to come as much for the atmosphere as for the cold brew. Read about Bandit Coffee Co. here.

King State

King State is located at 520 E Floribraska Ave., Tampa. [SCOTT KEELER | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

Nate Young and Tim McTague opened this spot at the end of June on E Floribraska Avenue in Tampa. It’s the first brick-and-mortar location for the pair who spent the last handful of years steadily growing a coffee roasting brand of the same name. Read about King State here.

Project Coffee

Project Coffee in Sarasota is in a soft opening phase. [Courtesy of Ian Steger]

In downtown Sarasota’s historic Burns Court district, Project Coffee debuted in July. Nestled in a corner space with large windows and surrounded by the area’s Mediterranean-style architecture, the minimalist spot has more on its mind than caffeine. Read about Project Coffee here.