Friday, August 1, 2014

9th Bar Espresso: Cerealist expression

A new coffee shop wakes up Dunedin with funky cereal combos and weekend ’toons.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 7:59 AM

click to enlarge CEREAL KILLERS: A crowd enjoys 9th Bar’s soft opening. - AHMED HAMID
  • Ahmed Hamid
  • CEREAL KILLERS: A crowd enjoys 9th Bar’s soft opening.

July 25 was Omar Hamid’s eighth day on the job as a barista.

Armed with no previous coffeehouse experience other than training from Tampa’s Buddy Brew Coffee crew, who taught him how to execute a fine cup of joe, Hamid — whose enthusiasm for coffee started at home — opened Dunedin’s 9th Bar Espresso about two weeks ago for what he calls “selfish reasons.”

“It’s really not about anything else. I just wanted a good coffee shop around,” he said.

Hamid, who’s owned businesses in the city for five or six years, subleases his craft coffee bar at 929 Broadway from the Dunedin House of Beer, which operates the building as Wine & Brew on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m.

Serving its coffee within 14 days of each roast, 9th Bar gets its beans, such as the Double Dog Espresso, from Buddy Brew. The local roaster created the shop’s signature 9th Bar Blend, too.

Artisanal coffees are 9th Bar’s main focus, Hamid said.

He and his brother Ahmed Hamid, who was a head chef at Bern’s and worked for Mise en Place, are putting together beverages like the World’s Most Expensive Cappuccino and The Crackuccino, which will pay tribute to the chocolate peanut butter Crack Pie that New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar is known for.

The sibling duo also crafts another breakfast staple in inventive ways: cereal.

Omar was inspired to offer cold cereals at his coffee joint after visiting a not-so-cereal-bar in Tampa. He said it turned out to be just a deli with cereal dispensers, and that he wanted to take the idea further.

9th Bar presents its unorthodox bowls of grain in Chinese take-out boxes and showcases cartoons on Saturdays and Sundays alongside a cereal brunch.

The Treasure Chest — featuring Cap’n Crunch, espresso-infused chocolate sauce, peanut butter drizzle, pretzels and milk mixed with a double shot of espresso — has been on the coffeehouse menu from the start, but Ahmed is developing more twisted recipes, including banana split and peanut butter and jelly renditions.

Typically fashioned with Cocoa Pebbles, shredded coconut, sliced almonds and almond milk, the bar’s Almond Joy cereal can even be made gluten-free.

Though 9th Bar is still fresh to downtown Dunedin’s food and drink scene, it partnered with The Hren’s Nest this past weekend to debut espresso and Cap’n Crunch doughnuts, and was approached by a gelato biz looking to collaborate not too long ago.

According to Omar, the plan is to open another 9th Bar in Pinellas County in eight or nine months, and to keep expanding after that. He said he’s passionate about providing the area with coffee he believes in.

“[The cereal is] just a fun idea,” Hamid said. “And it’s got its novelty, you know? It’ll be really cool for like two or three years, and then everyone’ll be like, ‘stupid cereal place.’

“Hopefully by then we’ll transfer into waffles, or do some other crazy thing.”

9th Bar is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 to 3 on weekends.

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