January 9, 2019

Cold-brew coffee is among the offerings at Big Pine Key's 7 Mile Café & Kava Bar.

Contributed Cold-brew coffee is among the offerings at Big Pine Key's 7 Mile Café & Kava Bar.

BIG PINE KEY — The 7 Mile Café & Kava Bar is a green and sustainably sourced café that offers barista-style coffee drinks, gluten-free and CBD-oil-infused pastries and kava tea, a traditional ceremonial Polynesian drink, according to owner Ricky Barr.

“It relaxes you,” Barr said of kava tea. “It’s been around for more than 600 years. It’s a natural herb that relieves tension and everyday stress.”

The mildly bitter tea — likened to an “earthy” cup of coffee — is also said to boost the immune system, promote sleep, increase dopamine levels in the brain, reduce inflammation and relieve aches, according to Barr.

The key compound in kava tea is kavain, which acts like a muscle relaxant, but doctors warn that consuming too much kava has potential negative side effects, including liver failure.

Despite such health concerns, kava bars have surged in numbers across the U.S.

St. Petersburg has become Florida’s kava capital, according to Kava Kalm’s interactive café map. The number of cafés in South Florida, including the Keys, is expected to grow.

The 7 Mile Café & Kava Bar is the fruition of Barr’s commitment to rehab a former yoga studio that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma 15 months ago. He also owns the adjoining business, 7 Mile Vapor Shop, which opened in July.

Barr’s inspiration for his coffee shop is a Salzburg café he visited while in Austria.

“It was a place where time stood still,” he said reminiscing. “It was inviting and had great coffee, and while you’re in there, the humdrum of the world fades away.”

The 7 Mile Café seating is arranged so that people face each other.

“I wanted to create somewhere that people actually sit, relax and interact with each other,” he said.

In addition to specialty drinks made from Florida roasted and Fair Trade organic coffee beans, the menu offers sweets made without refined sugar.

As a father of four young boys, Barr said he consistently looks for ways to remove sugar from their diets. He and his wife bake a lot using raw dates, honey, coconut, cacao and stevia.

“Our pastries are all handmade. We’ve been doing the raw vegan desserts for a long time. We are also a gluten-free house, so we have a lot of experience in baking,” he said.

The 7 Mile Café & Kava Bar is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It’s located at 30200 Overseas Highway in Big Pine Key. For more information find them on Facebook, visit 7-mile-vapor-shop-cafe-kava-bar.business.site or call 305-783-1357.