There's a certain je ne sais quoi about a quaint little coffee shop--a homey place to sip a cappuccino, read a book, work your laptop or catch up with friends. If you have an insatiable craving for good coffee and a comfy sofa that even a 24-hour Starbucks can't quite fulfill, Sarasota has a range of alternatives, from downtown to the beach. As coffeehouses often strive to become your "third place (after home and work)," we hope you'll find it on this list.
Media on Main (1341 Main St., 941-914-9411, www.mediaonmain.com)'s Cafe Palm has all the makings to be your coffee spot. Nestle into a cozy corner table amid the ivy outside and take in the views along Main Street down to the marina. Or, grab a table or a seat at the bar inside. The perfect amount of froth on the cappuccino will win over coffee lovers and, if that isn't enough of a selling point, you can munch on crepes, read their books or magazines or even play with their Apple computers on your coffee break.
Once the beloved Sarasota News and Books, Media on Main/Cafe Palm still has the same lovable, laid-back vibe. The outdoor seating can be both private or conducive to mingling. Bring your dogs and hang out for hours.
Station 400 (400 N. Lemon Ave., 941-906-1400, http://station400.com) is also downtown, situated in the historic Rosemary District. Inspired by an old railroad station, the breakfast and lunch spot has delicious coffee and tea, as well as irresistible outdoor seating. There's a very Southern front porch and a lovely garden patio.
Cream Couture (1501 Laurel St., 941-870-2612), just off Pineapple in Historic Burns Court, is just as cute as it sounds. It's the size of a tiny bedroom or perhaps a large walk-in closet, but Cream Couture has everything you could ever want--coffee, chocolate and fashion. The coffee menu is simple and traditional (espresso, cappuccino, macchiato). The chocolate comes in many forms, from truffles to soaps. The owner, fashion designer Arefeh Mansouri, also offers some of her creations, like jewelry and totes. As there's no seating, you have to take your coffee to go. Stroll through the quiet neighborhood, dotted with little boutiques, or have a seat at the nearby mermaid fountain.
Also downtown is Allegro, the coffee bar inside Whole Foods (1451 1st St., 941-955-8500, www.wholefoodsmarket.com). The coffee menu is extensive and original. You can get a delicious, hard-to-find cafe con leche and the baristas will substitute not only soy milk, but almond milk, in any of the drinks. It can be a quick stop while food shopping or you can sip your coffee at one of the many tables inside or outside.
Drink locally at Local Coffee + Tea (5138 Ocean Blvd., 941-870-2671, www.localcoffee.com). Local Coffee gets its coffee roasted locally by Latitude 23.5 Coffee Roasters, sells organic coffee and has two prime locations--one in Siesta Village (stop in on the way to the beach) and another at Selby Gardens (811 S. Palm Ave., 941-366-5731...get your caffeine fix while strolling the beautiful grounds). Also find them at the downtown farmers market every Saturday!
LeLu Coffee Lounge (5251 Ocean Blvd., 941-346-5358, www.lelucoffee.com), also located in Siesta Village, is one cool hangout. The surf-inspired cafe fuses the beach vibe of Siesta Beach, which is just steps away, and the artistic, retro vibe of a coffeehouse and bar from another era. The coconut mocha will remind you that it's always vacation time in Sarasota.
For those that love the coffeehouse vibe without the coffee taste, all of the places on this list have tea offerings. Media on Main also offers impressive selections of beer and wine. LeLu has an extensive cocktail list.
Whether you're a local or a visitor, staying downtown or on the beach, we hope you find your third place here.