22nd Street Coffee Is Not Your Average Coffee Shop – It is a Tampa Hub of Coffee History, Education & Culture
Coffee Before it was “A Thing”
When I moved to Seattle in the ’90s I embraced the fact that I could grab an espresso on any corner and it would be better than any coffee I could pick up in any other part of the US. Seattle was really the only place you can find artisan coffee made by a barista! I remember moving away from Seattle and for years never having the same coffee experience and being the only one among my peers that even knew what an espresso was. I was okay with that as “coffee was a Seattle thing” and you had to visit Seattle to understand.
Little did I know that a coffee craze that was about to hit the rest of the US with the growth of Starbucks, which was just another coffee shop and not that big a deal in the ‘90s. I remember not really even caring for coffee all that much back then for I had young taste buds and I preferred a steamed hot chocolate with a shot of Irish Creme from Seattle’s Best. When I needed the caffeine that hot chocolate order would easily translate into a delicious mocha. Fast forward 20 or so years later after college and into my career. No one could have told me then that I would move to humid Tampa, Florida to become a coffee snob of sorts! This certainly should’ve happened when I lived in Seattle, no?
Tampa Coffee Scene “A Tampa Thing”
When I first moved to Tampa 15 years ago, there were Starbucks around, but local coffee shops usually served café con leche, which I was okay with because Cuban coffee was a “Tampa thing.” However, Tampa is where I grew my affinity for the perfect cup of coffee.
Make no mistake, Tampa has a growing coffee scene that’s a force to be reckoned with today. However, the history of coffee in Tampa runs deep. If you are a self-proclaimed coffee lover you need to head over to 22nd Street Coffee in historic Ybor city to get your Tampa Cuban Coffee Education today. Yes, the coffee is delicious. Yes, there are plenty of Cuban food items to choose from. Yes, the decor and seating area will make you want to stay for hours. Yes, they have baristas that can create whatever you like. However, the coffee education you will receive when visiting for the first time is an experience. Just go in and ask for the “coffee tour.”
History of the Coffee Stronghold in Tampa
The walls in 22nd Street Coffee are covered in Tampa history dating back to the 1800’s. You’ll find a photo of oldest coffee roasting company in Tampa, photos of the cigar factories, and there is even a famous photo of Francisco Miranda the inventor of deviled crabs, who would sell them at the Cigar factories in Ybor City. The back wall also tells the story of what the owner, Denise, who won the Tampa Bay Business Journal 2019 Woman of the Year award calls, “the coffee stronghold” in Tampa. Her family came to Tampa from Cuba in the 1930’s to roll cigars. Rolling and cutting cigars is a mundane task so factory owners did a few things to keep the factory workers engaged. Most of the Cubans who rolled cigars in the factories didn’t speak English, so the factories would hire a ‘Lector’ who read the English newspaper aloud to the rollers in Spanish. The factory owners would also brew strong coffee in tiny cups and put them on the rolling tables to keep the workers energized.
Pictured Left to Right: @CarlosEats @AlohaMelani Denise @CharlieChowsDown Randy
Coffee Empire of the Southeastern US
The heart and soul of 22nd Street Coffee is its owner, Denise Reddick. She is not only the descendant of Cuban cigar rollers of the 1930’s, but she is also the heir of the coffee throne in Ybor City, for she is a Perez. Her father, Richard Perez learned to roast coffee in the 1960’s namely in the historic La Norma Coffee Mills which dates back to 1929. Perez worked for various coffee establishments ending with the Coca Cola coffee division. In 1968 Perez opened his own roastery, BRISK Coffee Roasters with a 100-pound batch roaster, a warehouse, and a delivery truck. BRISK, still owned by the Perez family is the largest independent roaster in the Southeastern United States. If you have had a cup of coffee in a coffee shop, an airline, a hotel, a cruise ship, and even a chain restaurant then you’ve probably had a taste of Perez coffee. This is a coffee empire that has been brewing in Tampa for over 50 years.
The BRISK warehouse originally sat in the back of a bakery on the corner of 8th and 15th in Ybor City. So, there is much importance to the spot that 22nd Street Coffee now sits, which is directly in front of where that old building once stood. In 2009 BRISK opened a state of the art facility triple the space of the old one, but it still remains in Ybor City and it’s likely you’ll pass it on your way into 22nd Street Coffee. The coffee is roasted to order at the warehouse and roasted daily in the cafe.
In the cafe itself, you’ll see two small roasting machines as you walk in. If you’re lucky Randy Gonzalez, the master roaster will be there to roast a small batch of green beans to your liking. There’s nothing like enjoying freshly roasted coffee. Even better, is enjoying a local establishment where the history of Tampa runs deep. So deep that Denise’s daughter is named after the famous deviled crab inventor himself. You’ll definitely feel the Tampa pride in this building. Denise is certainly a Tampa Historian in my book. If you are visiting Tampa, you’re were born and bred or you’ve made Tampa your home you want to hear her tell you her family story.
So, when you go into 22nd Street Coffee and order a café con leche or the famous Coño iced coffee you aren’t just sipping a simple cup of coffee. You are sipping a freshly roasted, legendary cup of history.
Visit This Coffee Hub
22nd Street Coffee is located at:
402 N. 22nd St.
Tampa, FL 33605
This Post Has 20 Comments
I never knew Tampa had such a rich coffee history! I’ve always been a bit more of a tea/espresso person myself, but if I ever find myself in Tampa I’ll definitely try the café con leche. The idea of having a coffee tour sounds like an interesting experience as well. Are there an espresso drinks you’d recommend trying?
I didn’t realize it until I moved to Tampa. Coffee is so significant around the world so, why wouldn’t it be in different ways in cities in the US? My love for coffee actually grew here in Tampa, so now when I visit other places whether in the US or overseas I’m constantly trying to figure out how coffee is woven into their lives. I’m a big tea lover as well! The history around tea would also be an interesting tour especially in the Eastern part of the world.
Yes, when you visit Tampa, please have a café con leche, a cortadito (stronger) or if you are not a fan of milk a Cuban espresso!
The smell of coffee can wake you up. A group of scientists conducted a study and supposedly a pure inhalation of coffee aroma acts on the brain by awakening it. And when you drink that cup of coffee, it takes exactly 10 minutes for caffeine to pierce your veins. I’d like to try your coffee from your coffee shop, it may have a different aroma from the coffee I’ve been drinking so far.
You can definitely order coffee from 22nd Street Coffee at this link:
I agree with you that even the smell of coffee makes me feel more alive! What coffee do you normally drink? I love coffee from all over the world, so I’d be interested to know.
Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about Everything You Need to Know About Tampa’s Coffee History is at 22nd Street Coffee and explanations are given.
I love to drink coffee and go to the cafes. Tampa’s Cafe I find interesting with a very beautiful history. If I had the opportunity to go to Tampa, FL I would definitely visit
Thanks again and I wish you all the best!
Oh yes! Make sure you message me when you visit and I’ll meet you there for a coffee! Thanks for reading.
Hi! Yes, I love coffee. And I have also lived in Seattle. I know what you mean.
I’d love to visit this coffee hub right here in Tampa. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m also of latinamerican origins, as Denise Reddick so we may have similar tastes concerning coffee. In latinamerica, coffee has always been part of our lives since a very young age. Mmm… sabroso.
Oh so you completely understand coffee love! Living in Seattle is a whole different coffee game that other cities will never understand! The fact that you are Latina (my husband is Latino) you really understand the deep love for coffee. If you’re ever in Tampa please message me and we’ll have coffee at 22nd Street!
Tampa’s Coffee sure has its history. It motivated me in opening my own here in south Texas, A friend and I are planning out this upcoming project. I believe it would be nice to open a venture. However, what goes well with coffee besides bread and cookies? Anything irregular maybe?
Congrats on starting a new coffee venture! There is great coffee that I had from an Austin company and I’m not sure if they are still around, but they roast a great bean.
Here in Tampa we actually have coffee shops that serve breakfast, sandwiches and even Acai Bowls (my favorite Acai bowl from a coffee shop near my home has an energy bowl with espresso in it!) When I don’t necessarily want to drink coffee but I need a pick me up I love to order it. A lot of coffee shops serve tea and Cold Pressed Juices because when friends meet for “coffee” not everyone is a coffee drinker (crazy I know…but it’s true! 🙂 )
Believe it or not, the love of coffee is so strong that if you serve really good coffee and coffee is the star people will spend hours in your shop and at some point they get hungry! This is the reason why big chains serve breakfast and lunch items.
I think the main thing to invest in is comfy seating for remote workers and great WiFi and wonderful employees/baristas who are friendly and efficient! People love a beautiful environment and great customer service.
hello, it is a great and nice feeling to know that someone will create a great website like this and also create a write up on an article like this. i have indeed learnt a great deal from this article. getting to know about the history of tampa’s coffee. i was enlightened. thank you for this post
Wow thank you for reading another one of my blog posts! I absolutely love coffee and since I wrote this post I have gone back to 22nd street Coffee several times and it really is my favorite coffee spot in Tampa! I love the coffee so much that I brought a bag home and I’m wating for it to finish brewing I’m typing this! I’m so glad that you liked getting to know about the coffee scene here in Tampa!
I really appreciate your support on my blog!
I love your comment about “coffee before it was a thing”! I grew up rural where coffee was just a staple of everyday life, every on drank it and thought nothing of it.
Right? Coffee has been a staple in many households for years, but in the 90’s it got so popular with the introduction of espresso shops in mainstream American culture. I’m not going to lie, I love a regular cup of joe, but I really do love artisan coffee from different cultures and creations. LOL!
Wow! I have lived in Tampa for over 10 years now and I have never been to this coffee shop. I have to change that very soon! Thanks for bringing a spotlight to this coffee shop! 🙂
Oh if you love coffee, you’re going to love the Coffee there! It’s right passed Ikea in Ybor City. They only open until 2pm so be sure to check the hours before going and if you do want a coffee tour call ahead so they can be sure one of the managers are there to give you one. A great way to learn the history of the Cuban cigar factories in Tampa!
After covid I’d love to connect with you sometime!
What a great post. I grew up in the PNW so coffee was a big deal. Since I no longer live there, I love learning about coffee in different regions.
I sure miss the PNW. It hurt my heart to see that the fires affected the area a few months ago. I know things have changed a lot there, but I need to take a visit once this pandemic is over. Isn’t it wild how coffee is different even in different regions of America?
Wow! This is some really interesting information about the coffee history in Tampa. I am a huge lover of great coffee! Definitely a place I will visit whenever I go to Tampa. Thanks!
You must! Please be sure to message me when in town so I can suggest some places for you to visit, but 22nd Street is a must! If I’m not traveling and it’s after this pandemic I’d love to meet up!