The Phoenix Coffee Crawl

This coffee crawl took place in January 2010.

What is better than visiting one awesome coffee shop? Visiting five, right in a row! My Aunt Jackie and I had the pleasure last month of participating in a Phoenix area “Coffee Crawl” and it was a blast. It was organized by Luis Till and Brian Clemens, included Kasey from PT’s Coffee in Topeka, Kansas, and was advertised by Chris Tingom, writer of ArizonaCoffee.com. Through his blog he publicized the crawl to the online coffee community, showing which coffee shops would be visited and at what times. People were welcome to spend the whole day, the morning, or just drop in as they could. There were about five to seven people at any time, including coffee bloggers, baristas, roasters, and the most important category, coffee drinkers! I spent just the morning with them and left after lunch. It was an extremely fun and caffeinating experience.

The day began at Solo Cafe in Tempe, where I enjoyed an excellent cappuccino. For most of their coffee they use a local roaster, Cortez Coffee Company, which in the drink I had was exceptionally smooth. Their atmosphere was very relaxed and comfortable, with a sofa and sofa chairs. They provide entertainment in the form of board games and even vinyl records, a record player, and headphones. Since this was the first stop, I held myself back, having only one coffee, and later on I was so glad that I did.

Solo Cafe - Tempe, AZ
Solo Cafe – Tempe, AZ

Next, we rolled over to Cartel Coffee Lab near ASU. Cartel, like the remaining shops we visited, roasts their coffee on site. They had many types of coffee beans for sale, even some special Cup of Excellence coffees. Being consistent during day for the purpose of comparing shops, I ordered a cappuccino. It jumped right out of the cup at you, caramel and maybe some citrus acidity; it was definitely a cup that said, “It’s time to wake up!” The atmosphere there was also a bit more invigorating than relaxing, a garage converted into a roastery and coffee bar having an edgy feel to it. Does the atmosphere reflect the coffee they produce, or does the coffee reflect the atmosphere they desire? Hmmmm.

Moving on towards downtown Phoenix, we arrived at Conspire. Wow, what shock factor! It was a small, older home, converted into a coffee shop, with very limited seating and entirely covered with graffiti, um correction, murals on the outside. From top to bottom it was covered in artwork containing vibrant colors, and a “Deport Sheriff Arpaio” sticker was placed prominently on the front door. While we were sitting, a woman walked up and invited us to her Emergency Protest Yard Sale; she said it was where radical people could sell their radical stuff. What an interesting day. The coffee at this shop is roasted specially for them by Cartel, it was similar in taste and, along with all of the shops in the crawl, was excellent.

Conspire - Phoenix
Conspire – Phoenix

Going to Lola Coffee I felt like I stepped back into the sophisticated world. After entering the door I was welcomed by a few of my favorite plants, orchids, and they were beautiful. Lola roasts their coffee on site, and if I had to describe their cappuccino I would say the taste was in between the previous shops, not edgy and not relaxing, just in the middle. I can say it was getting harder to discern the tastes by this time, as I was definitely becoming over-caffeinated! Eight shots of espresso seemed to be my limit, so I guess I was the lightweight of the crowd.

Lola Coffee - Phoenix
Lola Coffee – Phoenix

The last stop was Lux Coffeebar in downtown Phoenix, a very upbeat place with a few sofas and people everywhere with their laptops taking advantage of the wi-fi. Almost always crowded, people come for the great coffee, roasted on site, and the pastries, baked on site. They also have a namesake specialty drink, the Dr. Lux – Dr. Pepper with a shot of espresso. Even though I did not have another cappuccino, I must say Jeff, the owner, prepared the most beautiful latte art we had seen all day. Gorgeous! Right next door is Pane Bianco where we stopped in for lunch.

Lux Coffeebar - Phoenix
Lux Coffeebar – Phoenix

The crawl continued after lunch, going to some shops in Mesa, Liberty Market and Bookman’s Mesa Cafe, and ending with an evening coffee cupping (coffee tasting) at Sola Coffee Bar in Scottsdale. It was exciting to experience the different coffees throughout Phoenix, and I learned a valuable lesson for next time, to pace myself better. Wow, that was a lot of caffeine! I don’t think I had a cup of coffee for three days afterward… but it was fun!

Resources

Vancouver Espresso Vacation – Coffee crawl through Vancouver, BC.

Portland Espresso Vacation – Coffee crawl through Portland, OR

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Stefanie Spencer

Stefanie writes for the Voice in the Desert newspaper, a local paper serving Cochise County, Arizona.

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