NOTICE: Caffe Nove no longer sells Korean food. They have decided to just focus on their coffee product.
Across the world in South Korea, coffee shops are all the buzz. You’ll find dozens of themed shops, in addition to the usual chains like Starbucks or Tom N Toms stacked on top of each other on almost every block. Most shops are 24-hours there as well. Recently, I found a new coffee shop called Caffé Nove in Tampa that reminds me of the themed cafés of Korea, an independent breed that most of the time feels all but lost in the Starbucks congestion that has swept the United States and much of the world by storm.
The owner of the shop, Agnes Lee, has traveled the world and has now settled back in Tampa Bay. Her mother owns Master Academy Taekwon-Do, located within the same building and Lee just couldn’t find a coffee shop that satisfied her craving for delicious coffee and decided to open Caffé Nove on the other side of the building.
When I saw the menu online featuring bibimbap (비빔밥) and patbingsu (팥빙수), I immediately thought of life in Seoul and knew I had to try the cafe. Lee was extremely friendly as I came in on Memorial Day and happy to talk about her adventures around the world and her love of coffee, even educating my friend and I about some coffee facts during our visit.
We ordered both the bibimbap (비빔밥) and patbingsu (팥빙수). Bibimbap is almost literally known as mixed rice. Korean cuisine recipes calls for a mixture of a number of ingredients, such as seaweed, onions, carrots, and sprouts. Most Korean restaurants in Tampa have quite bland bibimbap recipes and turned me off to the dish, but the bibimbap we tried at Caffé Nove was like no other and a must try. It was better than most of the bibimbap I tried in Seoul and packed with flavor, especially the bulgogi beef. The recipe comes from Lee’s mother and tastes like a home-cooked meal.
Home is a good word to describe Caffé Nove. The entire setup of the building. The hospitable owner and her mother are very warm and welcoming to their business patrons and its easy to picture this business growing fast. Rooms are decorated with vintage hats, photographs, and newspapers. The back room has a piano and relaxing jazz and oldies music plays throughout the building at a soft level.
For dessert we had patbingsu (팥빙수) which is shaved ice with red-bean and other ingredients. The dessert is made fresh from a family Korean recipe and their patbingsu includes fresh berries inside and is enjoyable down to the last bite. A perfect summer snack with all the humidity and summer heat outside.
Check out a vine video of patbingsu! https://vine.co/v/bV3h6AgQ2P1
The main coffee advertised is Bitches Brew, a dark and smoky roast, from Groundworks Coffee and is 100% organic. Buddy Brew is also available. You currently won’t find any fancy coffee items on the menu. Simplicity is what the owner is pursuing. She wants to reach people who want a great and straight-up coffee. Almond and French Vanilla Milk are available, in addition to sugar.
Check out a Vine video of our French Press Bitches Brew coffee: https://vine.co/v/bV3h6L6qxuT
Several snacks are also sold such as Shin Ramyun (Korean spicy ramen), biscotti, chocolates, peanuts, chips, and various other snacks.
Caffé Nove is open from 6:00am-12:30am which makes it a great spot any time of the day. The owner doesn’t aspire to be restaurant destination, but instead a place where you can come for a reliable and fresh cup of coffee and study, relax and unwind. The owner allows customers to bring their own food to the cafe as long as guests order a cup of coffee, tea, or another beverage as well, although I must insist that you do not pass up the Korean food.
The cafe is the owners first dip into retail, so clearly there will be some kinks as she learns the retail world but with the friendliness the owner and her mother give off, it’s hard to imagine the place not finding its way. Free Wi-Fi is available and USF students and veterans receive a 20% discount.
The inside is absolutely awesome and I plan to spam with some photos below so you can see it for yourself.
This is definitely my new base for studying and hanging out.
Restaurant Name: Caffé Nove
Address: 14515 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Tampa, Florida 33613
Phone Number: (813) 642-6299
Sites That Link to this Post
- PAO Truck Lunch @ Caffe Nove – 06/06 | PAO Truck | June 5, 2013
- Dine Tampa Bay Foodspotting Event @ Datz : Carlos Eats | July 1, 2013
- Killer Samich Food Truck @ Caffe Nove : Carlos Eats | July 13, 2013