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The Barista Buzz: A Review of Gainesville's Top Coffees

Asking baristas what they deem to be their best drink at three Gainesville coffee shops.


I ventured to three of Gainesville’s most popular coffee shops in search of the perfect drink. After drinking coffee for many years, I desired a drink that could tell a story with all the major plot points: flavor, fragrance, flair, form, and finesse. So, I asked baristas what beverage they felt best represented their shop’s unique take on coffee, ranked them accordingly, and brought them here for you to evaluate.

Pascal’s Coffeehouse: Japanese Iced Coffee

Flavor: This chilled drink has a bold, smooth, hazel-nutty flavor. If served black, it has a satisfyingly strong, bitter bite. I added half-n-half for photo after trying the drink by itself.

Fragrance: It has notes of dark chocolate in its fragrance, with a pungent coffee overtone.

Flair: The simplicity of this drink speaks to its quality. It can stand alone without frills and syrups.

Form: Japanese iced coffee is unique to this coffee shop, as other cold brewing techniques are typically lengthy and involve steeping overnight. Japanese iced coffee is brewed hot and then immediately poured over ice to capture the flavors of a bold, rich brew without waiting for 12 hours or more.

Finesse: This coffee was coolly poured into a tall, 16 oz. glass. Straws are optional, and they also have a plastic waste recycling bin.

Wyatt’s: Nitro Honey Cold Brew

Flavor: This drink is silky, honey-infused, and rich. Its flavor compares best to honey-nut cereal. Though hardy in composition, this beverage was cool and refreshing.

Fragrance: Wafts of honey and hazelnut hung about this coffee drink.

Flair: The fizzy, creamy sensation created by the nitrogen infusing process makes this drink fun and amusing.

Form: The nitro cold brewing process infuses the drink with nitrogen gas, giving it a velvety feel.

Finesse: This beverage was tapped into a glass with just the right amount of foamy head on top. The reverse cascade was minimal, an upside-down waterfall effect as the nitrogen bubbles rise.

Karma Cream: Lavender Oat Milk Latte

Flavor: This beverage provided a warm, smooth microfoam. It tasted subtly sweet with a mellowed spice flavor. The plantiness of the lavender is complemented by the full-bodied oat milk.

Fragrance: The aroma of this latte was a harmonious mix of sugar, oat, and lavender.

Flair: Oat milk is notoriously the most expensive milk alternative, but alternative milks are not an upcharge at Karma Cream, as they are a vegan shop supporting vegan choices.

Form: The barista created lovely heart-shaped pour art with thick, creamy oat milk.

Finesse: The blue porcelain cup and saucer was vibrant and sturdy, a solid choice for a solid establishment.

My final comparison of these drinks places the nitro honey cold brew in third, Japanese iced coffee in second, lavender oat milk latte in first. The nitro cold brew was delicious, but the novelty of nitro cold brew was more thrilling than the beverage itself. The Japanese iced coffee was simple, but well-made. It was the epitome of what good iced coffee should taste like, and I couldn’t deny its classiness. In first, the lavender oat milk latte combined flavors so uniquely well, and its creation required the most finesse.

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