Cafe Galleria is downtown Miami’s retro-cool space for coffee

Pulling a shot of coffee at Miami's Cafe Galleria. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Most creative types — and everyone else, too — rarely get down to work without a cup of coffee to get them going. Jeremy Sapienza, a former writer and editor and founder of the new Café Galleria in downtown Miami, took that maxim to an extreme.

After a brief stint in Los Angeles and a cross-country move to New York, the Miami native had grown weary of his demanding work schedule and dwindling rates.

“I had done it for 10 years and worked at home,” said Sapienza, now 38. “And it was not an uplifting kind of job.”

Living in Brooklyn at the time, Sapienza realized that the city was missing a little slice of Miami. He opened Café La Mejor, a coffee shop devoted to serving ventanita-style Cuban coffee, but choosing sustainably sourced beans.

Miami coffee galleria cafe
Galleria owner Jeremy Sapienza, left, with Gianmarco Cascarano, returned home to Miami after stints in Los Angeles and New York to open Cafe Galleria, a coffee shop and retail store. Cascarano helped Sapienza design and build the shop. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.INDULGE

Back at Home in Miami

He closed shop after a few years, deciding to return to Miami and try again. This time around, at Café Galleria, Sapienza is forgoing Cuban coffee — “I’m not trying to compete with the guys on the corner,” he said — and focusing instead on serving specialty coffees in an intimate, design-friendly space.

“The vibe in here is an updated take on your grandmother’s living room.”

“I really wanted the shop to be downtown,” he said, “because I felt that the city center should have decent coffee and couldn’t believe it was so neglected.”

Sapienza embraced downtown Miami’s aesthetic of atrium-style buildings and storefronts that haven’t been given a facelift since the 1980s.

“The vibe in here is about being a 1980s kid growing up in Miami, with pastels and textured tiles,” he said. “It’s an updated take on your grandmother’s living room.”

miami coffee cafe galleria
The entrance to Cafe Galleria in downtown Miami. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.INDULGE

Respite from the Noise

Updated, indeed: With millennial-pink walls, white subway-tile counters, and an array of tropical plants and foliage illuminated by a faint neon light, Galleria is a retro respite from the noisy downtown streets.

Pop in for a coffee, but stay for the vibe, the snacks and the wares. Galleria exclusively carries Stumptown Coffee and fizzy Vichy Catalan sparkling water, and it sells a selection of gourmet vegan pastries — try the “ropa vieja” made with jackfruit — by local outfit Bloodless Vegan.

Galleria also offers a curated selection of plates, pottery, planters, succulents, coffee accessories, artwork, incense and more. Most are sourced from local artisans and vintage shops — including Little Haiti’s KuuPottery, ALMA Aromatherapy and Yield Design Co. — and range from about $10 to $80.

Café Galleria, 69 Southeast First Street, Miami. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.INDULGE

 

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