Miami’s Coffee Roaster of Record Perks Up SoHo

Photo: Steve Alicea

Panther Coffee, the Wynwood staple founded more than a decade ago, makes its Manhattan debut with a popup at 131 Greene Street.

As countless New Yorkers flew south for winter, an export from Florida’s longtime capital of cool opted for the reverse commute.

Panther Coffee, the beloved roaster that singularly defined the third-wave coffee movement in South Florida, has clawed its way onto Gotham’s caffeine scene, opening its much anticipated SoHo café — albeit an ephemeral one — on February 1. The new outpost, operated in partnership with Shopify at the e-commerce giant’s downtown headquarters, is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8am to 4pm.

Look for this sidewalk sign on Green Street, between West Houston and Prince. Photo: Steve Alicea

Founded in 2010 by husband-wife team Leticia and Joel Pollock, both seasoned industry veterans, Panther arrives in Manhattan with considerable street cred. The company’s flagship in mainland Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, a single-story stucco structure set back from 2nd Ave. behind lush shade trees and outdoor seating, is a buzzing hub amidst vibrant postindustrial environs, its outdoor tables filled with the likes of longtime locals, laptop-adjacent digital nomads, and tasteful tourists alike. The roastery opened its doors just months after the famed Wynwood Walls, a vision of late developer Tony Goldman — a key player in the 1970s revitalization of SoHo’s cast iron district who established the famed Houston Bowery Art Wall — that grew to become the neighborhood’s signature attraction. Incidentally, Goldman was also Panther’s benevolent landlord, deferring rent payments as the Pollocks got their business, which started as a cross-country road trip with a prewar Probat roaster, off the ground. Since then, they’ve added five additional locations nearby: Brickell, MiMo, Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, and Little Haiti.

The Manhattan residency marks the brand’s first official foray outside Miami-Dade since building out a roastery in Traverse City, Michigan (Joel’s hometown), though one could argue it’s a prophecy years in the making. Panther’s twenty-teens ascent largely coincided with New York’s own craft coffee revolution, a moment when Greenpoint‘s Café Grumpy blew up on Girls, San Francisco‘s Blue Bottle landed in Williamsburg, and Portland‘s Stumptown (Joel’s an alum) planted roots in Red Hookspilling its beans and steampunk-costumed baristas on a sleek coffee bar at NoMad’s Ace Hotel — all marvelously chronicled by Oliver Strand’s “Ristretto” column in The New York Times.

In the early days, Panther’s organic coffees made sporadic appearances at select Northeast cafés mostly run by the Pollocks’ friends, like the long-shuttered UR CUP in Greenwich Village. Those accounts became rare, however, as the business grew, leaving a Florida trip or the Shopify®-powered web store the only ways for New Yorkers to get the goods — unit now.

Panther’s New York residency is made possible by Shopify, which powers the roaster’s e-commerce site and is hosting the pop-up at its downtown headquarters. Photo: Steve Alicea

Despite the endless high-fashion coffee bars around the city these days, Panther’s award-winning coffees still stand out. The company is steadfast in its commitment to sourcing only the finest organic, direct trade beans from respected producers, primarily Central and South American growers with whom they’ve established long-term relationships. Needless to say, it’s no surprise they continue to win the respect and accolades they always have.

An end date for the pop-up hasn’t been announced. Drink up while it lasts.

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