I was reading this article recently about the best coffee across the country in Food & Wine. This senior food editor looked at coffee across the entire country and seemed to give Tampa its due by listing several great spots in town, but somehow completely skipped the best place in Tampa Bay.

I drink coffee nearly every day of my life.

My job requires me to work on my laptop so I pretty much spend all day in coffee shops throughout this nation.

There are plenty of “okay” coffee shops and plenty of great shops. If we’re talking about clear quality and passion for coffee, Zeal Coffee Roasters is the best in Tampa and I’ll be bold enough to say it is the best in this state as well.

Why not? This guy seemed to think it was okay for him to make a declaration about this whole state and somehow ignored Panther Coffee in Miami and others doing great work in Orlando. Did he try all the coffee in the state? I’m not sure.

It is really interesting that all his decisions were King State Coffee outposts. This is nothing against King State because I’m sure their coffee is probably good, but they do not have a physical location yet in Tampa and it has been delayed like pretty much every other business in Tampa learns when they try to open a storefront. It is weird to put a place that isn’t even commonly used in Tampa as the best when they do not even have a location yet. I digress.

Zeal Coffee Roasters does the work. Ask baristas in the city and many of them will tell you they love going to The Lab Coffee Shop in North Hyde Park or NoHo for a coffee. I’ve asked myself. The Lab Coffee is the best kept secret in this city. Buddy Brew? Kahwa? Nope.

What about Bandit Coffee Co. in St. Pete you ask? They are a good coffee shop in St. Pete. I can best describe my many experiences there as okay and their coffee pours as good. Nothing exceptional. Also – St. Pete is not Tampa, please don’t confuse our two very different cities if you are not from here.

I happily spend my hard-earned cash regularly at The Lab Coffee and true coffee fanatics always end up bolting into the cafe while I am sitting there doing my work.

I always end up having a nice discussion with the baristas and customers stopping in – in fact doing work there is difficult because of all the great coffee people you will meet there, but I keep going either way.

There are other coffee chains with nicer decor, say Foundation Coffee or Blind Tiger which are beautiful shops. If we are talking just coffee quality though for your buck, the espresso pours, the lattes, the drips, you can drink Zeal Coffee black and taste plenty of excellent notes throughout each pour and they regularly change the selection.

I just enjoyed an excellent Brazil espresso there recently that was truly great.

There is passion and pride in their work. Their baristas care about their jobs and actually love coffee. They aren’t just there because they need a job, but because they want to be and it is noticeable.

I just grabbed myself a bag of Zeal Coffee’s El Salvador beans that I had waiting for me at home when I arrived back in Tampa from the West Coast, and it was a blissful feeling to come back home to good coffee. I love San Francisco, but there are so many terrible coffee shops there, it is unreal. Sometimes more is less.

The Lab Coffee is the best coffee shop and Zeal Coffee Roasters is the best coffee you can get in this beautiful state and that’s the word. Now back to my coffee.

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