These revelatory coffee “waves” tend to disrupt the inveterate production and distribution on a global bandwidth—shifting the way roasters and coffee shops operate—beyond the Bezzera Magica espresso machine. So, what’s the latest movement? Well, it seems to be taking on many different faces, or froths, and inconspicuously percolating throughout coffee-crazed cities, which Sarasota and Bradenton are fervently becoming. Throughout these caffeinated upswings, each wave represents significant changes in the industry—how coffee is grown and harvested, how products are packaged and transported, how beans are treated or roasted, and how businesses source their products. We’ve come a long way from the First Wave, which made coffee a convenient commodity—think big food producers launching household brands like Folgers. Pre-ground beans of average quality suddenly became widely available by the pound on grocery store shelves so people could have the best part of waking up, at the press of a button. Then, coffee chains like Starbucks formalized the Second Wave. Baristas can generally at least tell you the country where your morning brew’s beans were sourced while introducing many new espresso drinks and fancy lattes to the public. Third Wave marked a significant step towards positive global change with the knowledge and resources to invest in direct, fair trade from single-origin plantations. Hip coffee gurus made it a point to find high-quality beans with a variety of flavor profiles—options that tend to be available in independent cafes and roasters willing to put in the education and effort to source craft coffee with alternative ingredients/options. Ready or not, a caffeinated tsunami is here and now, and with an insurgence of new kids on the block getting amongst it, SRQ sat down to talk shop and find out what “Fourth Wave” means to each of them.

O & A Coffee and Supply 

Out & About mobile cart owner and locally-renowned coffee connoisseur, Justin Banister, recently launched his new brick and mortar concept space this year. O & A baristas can often be found at Phillippe Farmers Market every Wednesday, 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottleshop on Saturday brunches, or slinging espressos for on-the-go passerbys commuting through Main Street throughout the work week. But after a long time coming, O & A Coffee and Supply deemed a physical space for its loyal following to have a place to sit, sip, stay and socialize. Rugged, muted and nautical, the interior boasts a community wood table at the storefront window to get to know your neighbor. Banister mentioned hosting educational cuppings in the future, implementing a newly-engineered Kyoto-style cold-brew drip system, and continually adding new merchandise including branded apparel, accessories, books and coffee-making gear to help customers learn how to brew their own “wake up juice” at home. 

Proudly Serving: An ever-changing rotation. Recently featured Tandem Coffee from Portland, ME, Oddly Correct from Kansas City, Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters from Lakewood, CO and Cirque Coffee from Tulsa, OK. Also, roasts its own house “Roar Blend.”

Funky Treats: Croissants, cinnamon rolls, brownies and more from Rendezvous French Bakery.

Specialty Merch: Glass growlers with the O & A lion logo, Kalita pour-over sets and HuskeeCups. 

When at O & A, Order: An espresso affogato or cold brew float with D’Lites vegan ice creams. 

Fourth Wave Mantra: Socioeconomic Impact—Being cognizant of the hookup between coffee products and their social and eco-consciousness, involves sourcing the whole beans in small batches through a direct and fair trade. Many of today’s high-end roasters, and their coffee importers, personally partner with handpicked farmers, and even reinvest into the farmer family’s land/business. With millions of people involved in farming and production in some of the world’s poorest places, coffee companies have committed themselves to working directly with specific farmers within defined districts—creating a tremendous impact on the economies and environments they come from—while bringing back top quality beans for us to experience in the comforts of our hometowns. 

Catchphrase: “Good morning SRQ. Let’s crush this week.” 

1316 Main St., Sarasota,941-716-1830, @outandaboutcoffee

Evan and Kristin Cooper and Scoobi, guarding their coffee sanctuary.

Varietal Coffee Bar

The coffee shop of The Overton made its debut officially, last February. And if you don’t believe great things come in small packages, then take a step inside this concrete haven of flamingos and pour overs. The former office space was renovated to build out a separate coffee program from The Overton. The husband and wife duo, Evan and Kristin Cooper, do wonders from such a humble, concrete space. Evan’s eight-plus years experience in the coffee industry convolutes with Kristin’s marketing background and eye for branding. Their common denominator remains the passion they share for the variety and complexity of notes (taste, aroma, body and origin) that exist in coffee—arguably more than there are for wine. Hence the name Varietal. “It's a small shop,” Kristin notes, “but we're focused on being a place where people can come walk in and just be themselves.” And the funky flamingo motifs spotted here and there, often place a smile on the dial. 

Proudly Serving: Counter Culture Coffee from Durham, North Carolina.

Funky Treats: Baked goods from Mana Bakery Co., pop-tarts and boxed cereal from your childhood, i.e. Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles.

Specialty Merch: Coffee blossom honey, DRAM CBD sparkling water, Bare Bones bean to bar chocolate, SOL reusable straws, handmade ceramic mugs by Drippy Pots. 

When at Varietal, Order: A pour-over (Evan will help you decide from the rotating cast of different roasts) or whichever seasonal latte with homemade natural syrups is on the menu. Catch the Honey Lavender if you can.

Cafe Perk: The two-fer deal, purchase a beverage at Varietal and enjoy the indoor/outdoor amenities and seating of The Overton in the hip Rosemary Square Courtyard   

Fourth Wave Mantra: Knowledge is Power—for both themselves and their customers. Evan and Kristin participate in Counter Culture’s educational seminars and training workshops to stay up-to-date on the industry beat and supply chain sustainability. “That's why we partnered up with Counter Culture, they're an amazing company,” says Kristin. “Not only do they source in an appropriate manner and give back to the farmers, but they also educate the people that are selling their products which is so awesome.” On the flipside, the Coopers occasionally host “cuppings”, much like wine tastings, to educate customers in a fun way so they can observe and measure the characteristics of different types of brewed coffee to learn what coffees best jive with their palette. “It's kinda like taking a cooking class, you go and to experience some new and taste different flavors,” Kristin says. “It's amazing when you taste a coffee and it tastes like Fruit Loops, or like chocolate candy and caramel, and you're like ‘How is this even possible?’”

Catchphrase: “Filter Coffee, Not People”

1430 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota, varietalcoffee.bar @varietalcoffeebar 

Three stooges, Christopher LeMaster, Chase Bryner and Ryan Parker of Amity Bros. keep it light, even for dark roasts.

Amity Brothers Coffee 

Maybe not brothers from the same mother, but Christopher LeMaster, Chase Bryner and Ryan Parker sure are close, “knowing each other longer than they haven’t.” The born and raised Sarasota guys still juggle their M-F day jobs, in addition to progressing their specialty roasting company Amity Brothers. Upon startup in November 2018, the goofy trio, who definitely don’t take themselves too seriously, have poured their all into this impassioned side hustle—getting together on nights and weekends to locally-roast, hand package and personally ship their designer-quality whole coffee beans. Ethically-sourced from Cafe Imports out of Minnesota, notice a high-quality roast, hard to come by. The Amity Bros. stay intuitive to their coffee bean’s supply chain—sourcing from small estates and cooperatives who prove progressive and environmentally-sensitive in the trade, rather than a single, mass grower. With twenty years of combined experience working in coffee between the three of them, their combined experience and knowledge have proven an invaluable asset to collaborate with outside partners—think a unique coffee consulting service with fun, instructional tutorial videos on YouTube. “We offer personal in-store training and over the phone support to get other company’s coffee operations up and running,” says Chris, mentioning their recent installment and dial up of an espresso machine for Bold CoWork, including a crash course on for employees to show them how to make their own battery acid, in-house. “We'll also help them find the right equipment, follow up with check-ups and provide preventative maintenance and support.” 

Proudly Serving: Themselves

Specialty Merch: Amity Bros.T-shirt and swag

Roaster Perk: They come to you. Whether you're a restaurant, café or company, the guys love to partner, consult and deliver coffee to your customers or employees. Amity also aims to host regular events locally that highlight their wholesale partners and give back to the community. Recent “Amity Takeovers” included Buttermilk Handcrafted Food and The Reserve SRQ, where proceeds went to support local nonprofit organizations.  

When with Amity Bros, Have Them: Pull you an espresso shot, it truly is an art and skill, which they have mastered.  

Fourth Wave Mantra: Unity and Camaraderie—In an industry notoriously known for being passively judgemental and competitive, the Amity Brothers aim to steam that stigma. “Coffee isn’t just a product,” they say. “It’s a catalyst for culture.” The quirky brotherhood hopes that the affinity for friendship, which is where the name Amity stemmed from, will ultimately help build a community of local coffee lovers in the buis bringing each other up and morally supporting one another, instead of secretly hoping a competitor’s La Marzocco espresso machine breaks down during the morning rush. “The arena for businesses in Sarasota can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Chris. “A lot of people can be super tight-lipped and they don’t want to share their secrets. But that’s not the age we’re in nowadays, and we want to be able to love people and give what they have. So we don’t want the next aspiring roaster to not know where to go or not feel comfortable asking.”

Catchphrase:  “Provide Coffee, Create Culture.” 

Amitybrotherscoffee.com, @amitybrotherscoffee, 941-275-0485. 

Couple and co-owners of Project Coffee, Ian Steger and Emily Arthur awake with the sun. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Project Coffee 

The newest cafe to hit the scene is Project Coffee of Sarasota’s Historic Burns Court. Ian Steger, Emily Arthur, and Kat and Florian Schuetz, completely overhauled the corner locale within a year’s time. They celebrated their hard work by opening its door this past July to eager admirers and neighborhood supporters. The European-inspired café evokes a forthright design, showing off bright, white walls, handcrafted wood furniture and an accessible menu. A standout feature that seems to set its space apart from many straight-away coffee bars is the large, horseshoe-shaped counter was built out to be a nucleus for the space, it juts from the back to include an open-kitchen area and reaches all angles for customer engagement. Vegan-centric in food and milk offerings, Ian and Emily notes the socioeconomic, environmental and healthful advantages of operating with veganism at the forefront. Many customers note not being able to taste the difference between Project Coffee’s exclusive oat milk and regular cream or whole milk, and yet it wins in nutrition, ethical production and shelf life. “Whether customers are aware or not, they are buying into something that’s larger than themselves,” says Emily. “Making that one choice in the morning to avoid dairy is a huge choice when you consider that it’s far more important that a business be vegan than one person be vegan. When a couple hundred people everyday come in and decide that for one aspect of their life, they’re going to make that switch, it’s far more impactful.”

Proudly Serving: Bandit Coffee Co. from St. Petersburg, FL and Kuma Coffee from Seattle, WA

Funky Treats: Vegan-minded menu including avocado and radish toast, bruschetta, carrot cake, hummus, granola and biscuits.

Specialty Merch: KeepCup reusable tumblers

When at Project Coffee, Order: An americano with oat milk

Cafe Perk: Hygge to the max. Aesthetically it’s a beautiful space, but still incredibly approachable and accessible. With loads of natural light, plant babies and friendly faces, it really makes it a comfy, vibey setting to zone out on your laptop or meet friends for lunch. 

Fourth Wave Mantra: Honorable Wages—Baristas have long been known to wake up at the crack of dawn, put in their hours and make minimum wage (plus tips, if they’re lucky). But Project Coffee is changing that status quo with a new standard in the service industry. “At this point, it’s not hard to make or find good coffee,” says Ian, “so really it’s about relationships, and the trust that’s built behind the scenes.”With workplace integrity at their forefront, they ensure their employees make a generous living by paying its employees an hourly rate considerably more than the average coffee shop franchise due to the challenges young workers face in today’s high cost of living. Ian and Emily stay hyper-focused and proud that they relieve the daily grind and normalizing that employees live comfortably, behind the counter and beyond. “It’s one of the most direct ways to affect positive change, to actually improve and benefit the lives of the people who sustain your business,” says Emily.  

Catchphrase: “Coffee can be anything for anybody—it just has to be comfortable.” 

538 South Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, projectcoffee.us, @projectcoffeeco 

Ben Greene and Keith Nasewicz of Oscura Cafe cheersing to caffeine. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Oscura Café & Bar 

Craft bev lovers, Ben Greene and Keith Nasewicz, have been life-long friends for as long as they can remember. Now, business partners, they decided to quit their corporate job to open Oscura in the up-and-coming Downtown Bradenton area, August 2018. The corner lot sat empty for some time, formerly existing as Fosters Drug Store and Pharmacy for 70-some years. Then, when Ben and Keith saw the space, it encompassed their vision and then some. Now, the massive space exists as a hybrid hub to connect for AM and PM gatherings. Inspired from a Cape Town, SA cafe/bar, Ben and Keith designed the space to encompass the same industrial-minimalist scene, but a welcoming component with various types of seating with ample nooks and crannies to either meet for a date, socialize with friends or get work done. “Anywhere else like this, it's mostly like a dime a dozen in cities like NYC or LA, but for us, it's something new; something fresh for this community. There was nobody really super involved in the craft coffee scene in Bradenton before,” says Ben. “We're not claiming to be some coffee gurus, but we've definitely are on the right path and we have the right people supporting us.”  

Proudly Serving: Counter Culture Coffee

Specialty Merch: Oscura brand T-shirts and hats

Funky Treats: The Hyppo fruit popsicles, craft beers and wine, a killer turkey and brie sandwich and avocado toast.

When at Oscura, Order: An Iced Mocha, dark chocolate paired with your daily cup of coffee.

Cafe Perk: Unlike a typical coffee shop which closes around 2 or 3pm, Oscura stays open after dark—hence its clever name, translating from Latin to mean ‘dark.’ Since it co-exists as a bar, you can get your evening espresso fix, or a glass of wine if the feeling moves you, and stick around late night for theme trivias.

Fourth Wave Mantra: Local Pride andCommunity—Ben and Keith coined Oscura as a hub for all things hyper-local. “We work exclusively alongside our local breweries, local wine distributors and local farms,” says Ben. “We go the extra mile in that regard.” Additionally, Oscura hosts weekly trivia nights with rotating themes like Harry Potter, The Office and Friends, as well as live music shows and art exhibitions. It is also regularly a space to hold Bradenton’s Friendly Flea Market, a curated craft fair and gathering of artisans, musicians and creatives. “We want more like-minded people, more businesses, more makers, more creative-type people experiencing downtown and what it has to offer,” says Ben. “The city has been super progressive on getting more places opened up down here. We're working towards developing new business ideas and things like that, so this is a good place to start—marrying the creatives, new businesses, and the public.”

Catchphrase: “Death Before Decaf”

540 13th St. West, Bradenton, oscuracafe.com @oscuracafe

Tellers Coffee Garden

What used to be a Bank of America brand, was recently revamped to become a Bradenton coffee garden, cheekily named Tellers. Co-owners Lauri Contarino and Erica McCreadie opened the first floor doors to the Bakker Building in June of 2018. The exterior still has the looks of a bank, but instead of using drive-thru lanes for depositing your dollars, you walk up to the retrofitted teller window to order your beverage. A plant wall, outdoor seating, outdoor games and a painted wall with larger-than-life coffee shrub and berries were recently added to entice hanging around. And while the service primarily focuses on quick to-go orders, like in many large cities across the world, the garden is definitely an idyllic spot to perch with your pup outside if you’re not in any rush. 

Proudly Serving: La Colombe Coffee from Philadelphia, PA

Funky Treats: Plant-based grab-n-go bites including ice cream bars, mac-n-cheese, chickpea salad and chocolate chai pudding, plus naturally-delicious PopTarts by Sweets Bakehouse and vegan caramel-filled waffle cookies by WeVegan Eats.

Specialty Merch: Shannon Kirsten stationery and illustration prints, bottles of Bee Free vegan honey.

When at Tellers, Order: Nuts for Nitro, a smooth, milky hazelnut cold-brew on nitro tap that is liquid energy to the max. 

Cafe Perk: Coffee in a flash. The to-go window makes it a perfect stop on the street corner when walking on the way to work or an appointment, but not before snapping an Instagram shot of the cute, chrome airbus propped nearby in Teller's newly-opened beer and wine garden.

Fourth Wave Mantra: Fair Pricing—while the average American today spends more than a grand on coffee per year, Tellers aims to serve its high-end product, without breaking your bank. They don’t see it necessary to make a dessert out of your drink, then charge an arm and a leg for it—they'd rather have regulars be able to come visit every day of the week than have to splurge on a cup of specialty-grade coffee.

Catchphrase:  “Life happens, Coffee helps.”

1201 6th Ave West., Bradenton, 941-209-5144, @tellers_bradentonfl

Radu Dehelean of Breaking Wave happy to pour you a cup. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Breaking Wave Coffee 

Making its own waves, this laid-back shop opened just this past April, in the former home of Artisan Cheese Company. The space was wiped clean with a minimalist design, giving off total Pacific Northwest or NorCal feels. Owned and run by Radu Dehelean, the simple menu lends itself to familiar favorites, without the pretension or intimidation that tend to be associated with many West Coast coffee shops. While Radu may not necessarily consider himself a coffee guru with decades of experience, his humble nature, friendly service have gained traction with locals as an attractive hideaway from the craziness of Downtown Sarasota, not to mention the cool Cali vibes of Breaking Wave’s branding and its renowned Cali-based roaster.  

Proudly Serving: Cat & Cloud Coffee from Santa Cruz, CA

Funky Treats: Savory and sweet housemade danishes and croissants, plus Shrubs sodas.

Specialty Merch: KeepCup reusable tumblers 

When at Breaking Wave, Order: A Flat White or Cortado, comes with Radu’s snap-worthy, swirly latte art. 

Cafe Perk: An eclectic library up front by the windows encompasses stacks of coffee art and culture books, mixed in with classic reads to flip through and peruse, instead of thumbing through Instagram. 

Catchphrase: “All days that end with ‘Y’ need coffee.”

1310 Main St., Sarasota, breakingwavecoffee.com @breakingwavecoffee