A good cup of coffee requires much more than beans and hot water.
There’s serious science behind the soothing aroma and crave-worthy caffeine kick, and Key West restaurateur Jacob Zakariadze has mastered the equation.
Zakariadze opened And Coffee in May in Key Plaza shopping center in the old Radio Shack location, but this isn’t his first rodeo when it comes to Key West restaurants. Zakariadze formerly owned the popular Duetto’s pizza and gelato shop on Greene Street, but sold it four years ago.
“I knew the general manager of the old Radio Shack, and I always had my eye on this location,” he said. “I always told myself I’d jump on the space if it ever became available.” And then it was.
Zakariadze brought the best of all worlds together at And Coffee, offering his signature brick-oven pizza, high-end, perfectly made coffee drinks, panini sandwiches, pastries and homemade gelato in a shop that encourages customers to hang out for a while.
Jazz music plays quietly in the background, while the shop’s ceilings are lined with black-and-white photos of musical giants like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and dozens of others. Zakariadze’s love of music is also evident in the light fixtures he made himself from old violins.
The pizza prowess came from Zakariadze, but his brother helped with the coffee connections.
“My brother was a barista in London for years, and whichever coffee shop he worked for became very successful very quickly,” said Zakariadze, a native of Georgia. “Unless you start with good beans, you won’t have a good cup of coffee. But more than that, you need to have just the right amount of pressure — 30 psi — pushing the water through the coffee and the right ratio of water to coffee. We also have a special boiler for our teas to ensure the proper temperature.”
Zakariadze may have relied on his brother for the coffee education, but the pizza was all him.
“I learned pizza in New York when I first came to the United States,” he said, emphasizing the importance of a crisp crust that can withstand the threat of sogginess from various toppings, and the benefits of using top-of-the-line mozzarella cheese and meat toppings.
When he sold Duetto’s, Zakariadze opened a Key Best Pizza on Southard Street that did very well — until the pandemic struck.
“We panicked and closed that location in March, so I’ve combined Key Best Pizza with the coffee shop idea, and had to start again, rebuilding my clientele, but it’s been going very well so far,” Zakariadze said. “We also make fantastic paninis for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we make our gelato fresh every day.”
Rigo Mejia works next door at Publix, and has gotten a panini from And Coffee every single day since they opened, he said.
“I come here every single day on my lunch break, and now I’ve gotten my girlfriend hooked,” Mejia said.
And Coffee is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.