IN MANY WAYS, SARASOTA CAN STILL BE A BIT OF A SLEEPY TOWN. Maybe that explains the relative lack of caffeine-peddlers and coffee shops up and down the Main Street strip, where storefronts demonstrate a penchant more for leisurely lunching than early morning activity. “There’s not a lot happening in Sarasota for craft coffee,” says Justin Banister, the man behind Out and About Coffee, celebrating its first year as Downtown Sarasota’s premier mobile coffee monger. A sister store of local craft coffee sensation PERQ Coffee Bar, Out and About Coffee serves as the complement to PERQ’s stationary storefront, bringing the enthusiasm for and dedication to a quality craft brew to the people instead of waiting for them to cross that chilled wooden threshold down in Southside Village. Banister’s target demographic moves fast—making deals and taking names, crunching numbers and wearing suits. These people aren’t on vacation and have more important things to do than drive halfway across town for a cup of coffee. Snowbird crowds are great, says Banister, and all are welcome, “but to be a successful business in Sarasota and really change the coffee culture, you have to reach out to locals.”

PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.


Setting up shop right on the sidewalk by the office buildings downtown, Banister brings the high quality high-octane for those high-powered persons of business tired of guzzling gas station fare. It’s a new world and it works because, as he says, “a shop can only do so much.” Some may say the same for Banister’s minimalist mobile coffee bar, but with a pair of generators in tow he offers more than one might expect. Compartmentalized across his six-and-a-half-foot wooden countertop, Banister squeezes in a number of contraptions, from the expected hot coffee maker to a cold brew tap, a grinder and a Slayer-brand single group espresso machine he calls his “baby.” It’s “the Rolls Royce of espresso machines” and a smaller version of the machine inside PERQ. Integral to handling large crowds, Banister once served 115 espresso drinks in just 90 minutes.

He keeps the menu basic. “The coffee should be front and center,” he says. The grinder is set to super-fine, reducing the beans to a near powder and allowing Banister to extract as much flavor as he can from the beans. Purchased in direct trade with the farmers, beans are harvested in season and separated according to farm, meaning that each cup from Out and About represents the specific flavor of that particular farm. And with the exception of the cold brew, which takes 10 hours to brew Kyoto-style and waits chilled on tap, each cup is ground and brewed to order. 

The snowbirds at Phillippi Creek Farmer’s Market go for a straightforward hot brew, says Banister, while the HuB guys usually bring their grumblers and growlers out in the morning for a cold brew refill, but the Main Street magnates and marketeers exhibit a clear preference for the Flat White. A New Zealand-style latte, the Flat White is easily Banister’s most popular offering. Similar to an Italian-style cappuccino drink, it packs the extra punch of two espresso shots under cover of a silky smooth milk camouflage.

Looking to the future, Banister wants to expand Out and About’s catering game. “I want people to understand that a coffee bar can be correct for any event,” he says. “That’s something people forget.” Whether as a wake-up call at the early morning conference or a late-night jolt at a friend’s wedding reception, coffee fits right in there. Banister’s been invited to events from a baby’s first birthday party to corporate functions like employee appreciation day. “All I need is six and a half feet and a plug,” says Banister, “and I can rock right there.” Flexible, quick, flavorful—it’s almost custom-built for catering. But Banister’s not hanging up his generators any time soon, and those that miss him on Main Street may find him at Darwin’s Brewing Company or Mandeville Beer Garden, where he posts up about once a month. Out nights as well as mornings, keep tabs with social media like Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and catch him when he’s, well, out and about.