Joel Pollock and The Art of Cupping

On a recent afternoon at my favorite coffee place in the Gables, Café Curuba, I spotted the owner Debbie Ravibovici loudly slurping coffee from a spoon just like an unmannered child would drink his soup. Before concluding anything about her behavior or upbringing, I questioned her and was thus enlightened as to the technique required to properly taste coffee that is part of a process known as cupping.

The following day at Panther Coffee’s Wynwood location I spotted owner and founder Joel Pollock, engaged in a similar situation with the accustomed multiple cups of brewed coffee in front of him. I questioned him and obtained more details; “It’s the only way to get the coffee to the very back of your tongue in order to engage your olfactory system and properly taste every aspect of each brew: texture, sweetness and acidity”.  I was handed the large metallic spoon so I could try for myself. SLUUURP I went. “Can you taste the terroir?” Joel asked me; I replied negatively with shame, and was even more impressed at the degree of his acuteness in taste for coffee beans.

Nobody has arguably done more for the coffee culture in South Florida than Joel Pollock and his wife Leticia. They started Panther in 2011 offering small-batch roasted coffee beans and coffee beverages and instantly garnered a following among coffee connoisseurs and quickly developed a brand for their in-house roasted beans, currently served at various restaurants around town. Their hard earned success has led to the opening of a second shop in the widely popular Sunset Harbour. I understand there are also two other projects in the works, one for Little Haiti and another for Coconut Grove.

Panther Coffee’s popularity has stretched beyond Miami, making it one of the city’s first food & beverage exports, a welcome note for a town mostly accustomed to importing concepts. It is possible to enjoy a cup of Joe from a bean that has been roasted in their Wynwood location’s pre WWII Probat Perfekt roaster in New York City, for instance.

So cupping and all the slurping is indeed not just part of Joel’s day to day, it is also key to his success. It is there and then that he selects the best of the beans he has access to, and therefore selects for his retail and wholesale product. So as unmannered as he may sound next time you stop by Wynwood’s location, do note that he is contributing to an already brilliant culture of excellence in coffee.  

If you want to witness the "cupping" technique first hand, watch this quick video of Joel in action produced exclusively for can almost smell the roasting beans!


Panther Coffee

305 677 3952

2390 NW 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33127 
Monday - Saturday: 7am - 9pm 
Sunday: 8am - 9pm 

Sunset Harbour
1875 Purdy Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Monday - Saturday: 7am - 9pm
Sunday: 8am - 9pm