Jordan Athos stood at an industrial register on a recent Wednesday at the Brewing Buddha Café and Arthouse in Pinecrest. Just a few months earlier Brewing Buddha opened its doors, unaware that it would have to close them almost immediately due to Hurricane Irma.
“It made me feel very vulnerable when I heard Irma was coming to town,” said Athos. “But it also gave us an opportunity to give back to the community when there was no light or electricity.”
Cassidy Athos, his brother, entered through the sunlit double-doors carrying several gallons and varieties of milk. As the only staff of the Brewing Buddha, the brothers greet patrons, serve drinks in oversized coffee mugs, control the cafe’s social media platforms and constantly invent new teas or cold brews.
The interior of the Brewing Buddha is decorated with a green wall of shrubbery and local Miami photography. The brothers said they value regional work and have arranged events with local musicians like Keith Jones.
“We plan on opening more Brewing Buddhas, but we’re very protective of our product right now,” said Jordan Athos. “The way we do things, froth, and mix—our flavor profile. We just want my brother and me to be in control of everything.”
The smell of coffee and the whirl of an elaborate espresso machine is often disrupted by playful bantering between the brothers. As two women got up to leave, they asked Jordan Athos what they needed to do with their empty mugs.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll make my brother clean it.”
Lydenise Berdecia, who said she’s at the coffeehouse five to six times per week, has bonded with the duo.
“Jordan is the charmer, and Cassidy has swag—he’s got swagger. Well, Jordan made my first Sweet Plantain latte, that I loved, but Cassidy makes the best Green Matcha Tea,” she said, whispering “because I didn’t like the coconut milk latte Jordan gave me.”
Berdecia said her first visit came as result of a desperate search for coffee after the hurricane. Many Pinecrest residents were without electricity for 11 days as it was one of the last cities in Miami Dade County to regain full power. Though the shop regained power in three days, Cassidy Athos said all the milk products spoiled.
“The week after Irma hit, I was driving down US-1, this is when the traffic lights were still out, trees everywhere,” said Berdecia. “I drove by and saw the little ‘open’ sign, and I almost got into a car accident. I did a reverse and whipped it; that’s how this place found me after the hurricane.”
Cassidy Athos said their plan, after the hurricane, included generators and a limited menu. Beforehand, they made sure to extensively prep the business against damage. But the preparations were only one of the challenges.
“The summer is a slow season, then the transition from summertime to school was another transition. Then right away we got hit with Hurricane Irma,” said Jordan Athos. “We had been open three months and got hit like back-to-back, without even hitting a full season at all yet.”
Hurricane Irma had put Brewing Buddha out of commission for three weeks, he said, and they dealt with inconsistencies in electricity. Daytime working hours were often without power, which limited the menu to cold brews.
Despite the difficulties, Charlie Athos said her sons’ have been focused on helping the community in the storm’s aftermath. But they were a bit more stubborn when it came to the business itself.
“Anything that I wanted to suggest—it was no. They didn’t take any suggestions from anybody, it was just those two, their vision and that’s all there was to it,” she said.