What happens when a local coffee roaster and a Miami grown chef join forces? The birth of a neighborhood coffee shop, and Eater Award Winner for best Miami coffeehouse of 2018, House of Per’La (2626 Ponce de Leon Boulevard).
House of Per’La opened in October of 2018 in the former Cafe Curuba space just a few blocks south of Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. A partnership between Per’La Specialty Roasters’ owners Paul Massard and Chris Nolte and Eating House owner and chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, it’s just about as local as it can get.
With a variety of different types of roasts, House of Per’La likes to think of themselves as a coffee shop that’s helping coffee drinkers find the exact cup of joe they are looking for — offering an easy way to help bridge the gap and find a roast fit for every palette.
Nolte compares the experience to the common sushi starter, the California roll.
“As a non-sushi eater, you don’t tend to jump directly into eating sashimi, you’ve got to work your way up to it by starting with a California roll. And that’s what we like to think we do with coffee,” notes Nolte.
“But with real crab meat, not that krab stick stuff!” adds Rapicavoli.
The coffee menu at House of Per’La features eight different roasts of coffee consisting of two types of espresso, three types of rotating brewed coffee, a house brew drip coffee, and the popular cold brew. As far as the food is concerned, the cafe features a mix of soup and salads, sandwiches, and bakery items — with a few nods in memory of Cafe Curuba like the guava pan de bono. It’s bigger than the average coffee shop, but not quite a full cafe menu.
“I think one advantage is we use all the same local purveyors as I do in the other restaurants,” says Rapicavoli. “We have the same mentality as we do at Eating House where we make as much as we can from scratch and then try to source the rest locally.”
Friday and Saturdays feature special bake sales with several one-off items that evoke nostalgia like cereal bars, whoopie pies, brownies, and cakes to add a little flair to the weekend menu. It’s been a big hit and has been a successful way to beta test new items. For those looking to learn a little more about what they’re drinking, House of Per’La hosts monthly coffee cuppings where guests can try all of the blends and observe the different tastes and aromas to better learn their preferences.
The partnership between the Per’La team and Rapicavoli came easily, as Rapicavoli was one of the first restaurants to carry the specialty coffee just three months after Per’La Specialty Roasters opened its doors. When the opportunity came up to work together it was the right fit.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been patrons at each other’s businesses — I use there coffee in the restaurants, and drink it at home. They’ve been eating at Eating House for years now, and we’ve developed a friendship alongside our working relationships. It was a really natural process,” says Rapicavoli.
Per’La Specialty Roasters opened its doors in 2016 as a wholesaler with more than 40 restaurants and hotels currently carrying its coffee. Massard has an expert sense of taste. He’s a Certified Q Grader by the Coffee Quality Institute. In the coffee world that’s as high as it gets. Chris Nolte is a master at marketing and branding. He’s got the business end down to a science.
Chopped Champion, Giorgio Rapicavoli, knows his way around the kitchen as owner of Eating House and chef/partner at Glass & Vine, as well as one of the chefs featured at Time Out Market.
“We’re three locals who really want to give Miami the coffee shop they deserve with great food to go with it,” says Nolte. When asked about what they see in the future for House of Per’La, Rapicavoli said, “We’ve been toying around with the idea of being open later and serving beer, wine, and some bites that would pair well it them.”
Coffee shop now, perhaps wine bar later.