St. Petersburg espresso & tea: top 3 get-a-way spots near campus

Finding a good coffee shop near USF St. Petersburg can be challenging. After talking to students and scouring the city, here are the top three places recommended for a good drink and a welcoming, student-friendly atmosphere.

1) The Hooker Tea Company

While most people are in the mood for coffee when needing a get-a-way spot for studying or conversation with a friend, the Hooker Tea Company on Beach Dr. and 3rd Avenue across the street from Straub Park offers an interesting alternative to espresso-based coffee shops.

Decorated in simple dark-wood furniture, draping white-linen fabric and small bamboo plants, this tea shop is full of surprises.

Co-owner Kendra Rodriguez is passionate about her business. Two years ago Rodriguez and her business partner, Shawn Hooker, thought up the concept for the Hooker Tea Company.

A long wall behind the store’s counter is filled with 106 teas stored in chrome colored canisters. Within five questions, Rodriguez can narrow the intimidating wall of tea down to a few choices. She enjoys pulling the teas down from the wall and allowing the customer to experience it by smelling their options.

Hooker Tea Company often has game nights, “Tea & Terra” and “Tea & Wii.” Rodriguezus, who helped opened the store in November 2006, said she is seeing more students coming. A brunch menu is also served on Saturday and Sunday and utilizes different kinds of tea in many of the menu items.

2) Cafe Bohemia

Past the busy Central Avenue restaurant district, Cafe Bohemia Espresso Bistro is a local, community-centered coffee shop on Central Avenue and 9th Street.

Matt Neil, owner of Cafe Bohemia, said he cares a lot about making coffee in the traditional way. “We will throw a bad drink out before we give it to someone because we love espresso drinks ourselves,” he said.

The coffee is purchased from a local roaster in Tampa and makes most of their ingredients from scratch. The cafe serves a full menu of wraps, sandwiches, salads and lots of drinks.

One corner of this busy coffee shop has an unorganized bookshelf and local art on every wall. A sign near the bar reads, “Please don’t ask us for a all…grande….viente…caramel, macchiato, frappuccino. Respectfully, we are not Starbucks. Thanks!”

3) Kahwa Coffee Roasting

A new coffee shop, Kahwa Coffee Roasting, opened in March on 5th Avenue N. and 2nd Street and is offering a 10 percent discount for USF St. Petersburg students. The cafe has an industrial feel with large windows and concrete floors.

The cafe is only a bi-product of the roasting company that opened three years ago. Kahwa roasts for over 50 locals restaurants, explained Chathrine Thibault, part owner of Kahwa Coffee Roasting.

“Coffee roasting is…like making a good dish,” said Thibault. “It’s all about the good ingredients and knowing how to put them together and cooking them to the right temperature.”

Thibault said the iced mocha, made with pure mocha, is popular at Kahwa.