I’ll admit, it was my wife’s idea.
As I got deeper into my coffee hobby, I focused so much on home brewing that I stopped going out and visiting the awesome shops in our own backyard. With another baby on the way, my wife wanted to get out of the house “while we still can” and coffee-touring is one of our favorite things to do together. After enjoying a private cupping at Zeal Coffee Roasters last month (my reward for supporting their previous crowd-funding effort), not only was I pumped to start writing again, I couldn’t wait to check out their new project: The Lab Tampa.
Located just a stone’s throw from downtown in the North Hyde Park neighborhood, The Lab is a collaboration between Zeal Coffee Roasters and Blind Tiger Cafe, and I loved it from the moment I spotted their logo on the huge barn door. The interior is setup as a spacious open concept. I was greeted by a sleek espresso and pour-over bar up front, with the back half of the space holding the 5 kilo Ambex and sacks of green coffee.
We stopped by during their soft opening, and I believe they are aiming for this weekend as the official grand opening. The concept is pretty cool, with two roasters sharing the workspace, plenty of room for classes and workshops, and a slimmed down cafe menu focused on quality. It really hit my sweet spot, putting so much focus on the coffee itself. They’ve even shifted to smaller drink sizes to really hone the customer’s senses on what matters most. (This is for glass and ceramic, at least. I think they still offer larger to-go cups for those who want a lot more milk in their lattes.)
Visiting late on a Sunday afternoon before the public really knows they’re open, I was able to chat for awhile with Peter, the owner and roaster at Zeal. He and his wholesale account manager, Jason, did most of the build out themselves, so it’s been a crazy couple months of sweat and hard labor fueled by a passion to bring people the best coffee possible.
I started with an Ethiopia Sidamo grade 3, which smelled like blueberry muffins during the cupping, but hit me with all kinds of complexity when served as an espresso. Then my wife and I both enjoyed a cortado using a blend Peter’s been working on. It was well balanced and reminded me how much I love a good cortado, with all that great coffee presence compared to a larger drink. We picked up some beans from their retail shelf, and I’ll definitely be back for a growler of cold brew next time I’m in Tampa.
Watch for their grand opening soon, and stop by for some excellent coffee and cool atmosphere.
The Lab Tampa
1703 West State Street
Tampa, FL 33606
Open Monday-Friday 7:00am-2:00pm & Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-3:00pm