My favorite independent Sarasota coffee shop is currently featured as a Tampa Bay Area Groupon deal! Just wanted to give a quick heads-up to my Sarasota readers who are also coffee connoisseurs. Spend $6, and get $12 worth of stuff on your next visit. Here’s the Groupon deal. Get it now: it expires today!
While they also sell & service espresso machines (residential & commercial), their cafe on Bee Ridge has been a welcome addition since they opened last year. Great-tasting food, free wi-fi and lots of beverage options make The Beanz Man a fantastic choice. And, as we’ve mentioned before, they make the ultimate Almond cappuccino. Be sure & tell ’em I sent ya!
Those who know me well — and shoot… even those who read this blog! — know that I’m a Starbucks fan. I carry the Gold card, I’ve unlocked the Foursquare “Barista Badge,” and I’ve had Starbucks almond cappuccinos on multiple continents.
However… in the famous revamping of 2008, Starbucks ditched a few of my favorite things. Some of them hit a little closer to home than others. The loss of the Bearista left me with one less source for cute little stuffed animals to bring home to my wife and daughter. That hurt. Thankfully, the Bearista is back this fall.
What hurt even worse, however, and what is not back… is Starbucks almond syrup. My eulogy to this personal favorite continues to bring visitors from all over the world to this site.
Starbucks has a consistent product… all over the world. That makes it worth counting on… no matter where you are.
However, since the demise of their almond syrup, I’ve taken to checking out local, independent coffee shops to see what treasures I might discover — especially here in Sarasota, Florida. Consequently, I’ve found that there are some places around town that produce some fantastic products. LeLu Coffee Lounge on Siesta Key is one such place. In fact, they make a mocha using genuine Ghirardelli syrup that makes my wife melt. +1 for LeLu!
But just yesterday I believe I may have discovered Nirvana. No… not the Kurt Cobain-fronted grunge band from the 90s. But the real deal… the ultimate almond Cappuccino. And it doesn’t smell like Teen Spirit!
Locals here in Sarasota may recall the name, “The Beanz Man.” We knew it as a dealer of a wide variety of personal and professional espresso machines. When their shop disappeared from North Washington Boulevard, I thought perhaps it was another casualty of the economic times, so to speak.
Turns out, they suffered a devastating fire. I don’t know the details, but apparently it forced them to relocate and start over.Â Imagine my surprise when I spotted their vans parked in the parking lot next door to my office on Bee Ridge Road a few months ago!
Well… not only did they move… but last week they opened a full-fledged cafe! They serve a variety of sandwiches and soups. I walked over to it for lunch yesterday with my wonderful wife, Jill, and had a prosciutto and fontina sandwich that was spectacular.
But… what do you get when you take an espresso machine dealer… one who probably knows the ins and outs of making espresso-based drinks as well as anyone else… and put him in his very own cafe?
You get the handmade cappuccino of your life… with the perfect amount of almond syrup to boot! (At least… that’s what you get if you’re me! You might order something else… that, I recognize. But that would be your loss.)
Actually… I’m sure that any espresso-based drink you could possibly dream up would be amazing at The Beanz Man Espresso Bar Cafe. Here’s a sure thing: I’ll be walking next door more often… a lot more often. Check out the cafe page on their website to download yourself a coupon, then head on over there yourself. Enjoy something to munch on at one of their nifty little cafe tables, or sink down into the cozy couch and fire up your favorite wi-fi device to do some surfing.
**Latest Update**Â It looks like Starbucks Almond Syrup is truly gone for good. The Fontana choice was good for a while, but it’s no longer on the market either. I’ve tried the Torani Orgeat Syrup, and it’s pretty good…. plus it’s in Amazon Prime, so… free shipping, right?!
**Update #3** Thanks to our reader Joyce, I did a little checking around and it looks like this Fontana Almond Syrup is the very stuff that Starbucks uses (Fontana is evidently manufactured for Starbucks) You can still purchase the Almond variety in a 4-pack.
The Torani syrup we mentioned in a previous update is also delicious, but not quite the same flavor as the Starbucks / Fontana syrup. Even the bottle on the Fontana syrup is an exact match!
**Update #2** All my Sarasota readers: you can get almond cappuccino and syrup fromThe Beanz ManÂ Espresso Bar Cafe on Bee Ridge Road (just west of Shade). Tell ’em I sent ya! sells and services fantastic coffee equipment (especially for commercial purposes), but no longer has a coffee shop. 🙁
*Update 1* I’ve been told that this Torani Orgeat Syrupis the exact product that Starbucks used to sell with its own label (turns out the Fontana syrups are manufactured for Starbucks… see the update above). You can grab it up inexpensively from Amazon and use it in your homemade beverages. Alas, since I don’t make espresso-based drinks at home, this doesn’t help me.
Those who know me know that I’m an enormous fan of coffee. In fact, I have a book project that I’ve been dabbling with for a while that deals with coffee as a source of inspiration. It will eventually be finished. Watch for it. 🙂
As a true coffee connoisseur, I drink my daily brew black, freshly ground (in a burr grinder for consistency), and brewed (by the cup) in my french press. OK, I admit it. I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I certainly don’t mean that I look down on those who drink, say, robusta beans. It’s just that I personally have a well-developed palette where it comes to fine coffees.
OK, back to my point: I have one guilty pleasure, as it were, where it comes to flavored coffee beverages. I know, I know… real connoisseurs don’t use any flavoring. But, years ago an astute barista who was a personal friend of mine made me an almond cappuccino.
Now, I’m not going to say that the skies parted, light shone, angels sang, and that I was enraptured by a glorious ecstasy as I partook… but it was close. Thanks, Mike, wherever you are.
Since then, I’ve been an addict. When Starbucks finally entered the Florida market, I quickly made the Grande Almond Cappuccino my beverage of choice… when in the mood for something other than a bold drip or a doppio.
I’ve partaken of this particular beverage all over the United States in Starbucks locations and even as far away as Singapore. I love it. It is truly a pleasurable experience that I enjoy.
So, imagine my dismay when the baristas at my local Starbucks announced that the almond syrup was being phased out. First, their ability to ring the drink up properly was taken away by a software update to their POS system. Now, they’ve actually told me that the syrup is gone. Some locations still have some, but almond—as a flavoring syrup at Starbucks—is basically dead.
I don’t spend enough at Starbucks to have the clout to pressure them to bring it back (despite whatever my wife may think about my Starbucks budget), so I’m not planning to mount any major campaign to boycott or ask people to join me. However, I am truly saddened by the loss. Most people stick with vanilla or hazelnut or one of the more popular syrups, I know. But they simply don’t know what they’re missing.
So… I bid the Starbucks almond syrup a fond farewell. And yes, every time I’m in a small private coffee shop (which I’ll admit I’ll be on the lookout for now more than ever), I’ll be forced to inquire… just in case they have some.