I’ve never uttered the words, “Don’t dare talk to me until I have my morning cup of coffee,” but as soon as I wake up, I stumble to the kitchen to turn on the coffee machine. After I drop my daughter off at school, I wrestle with whether to go to the gym or grab a latte. Guess which one normally wins? Is it an addiction, a habit, or is coffee culture now just part of my DNA?
As a news anchor in Seattle, I spent many of my non-working hours at Starbucks or Seattle’s Best Coffee. This was long before cities across the country had stand-alone coffee shops on every corner and before the words “grande,” “flat white” and “macchiato” were part of people’s everyday vernacular.
I remember calling my dad, who lived in Scottsdale, to tell him about this custom coffee craze and how he should start a business. He said there was one such coffeehouse on Mill Avenue in Tempe. “It’s just a fad, no one is going to pay that much for a cup of designer coffee.”
We know hindsight is 20/20 and in 2020, there is no shortage of boutique coffeehouses all over the state – each having their own distinct personalities and loyal fans. In some towns, these gathering places are the hub of the community.
They have become our offices, playgrounds, places to relax and socialize. Some coffeehouses have live music, serve alcohol or even offer storytelling and poetry slam contests, and many of them roast their beans on-site. These are not your grandparent’s “grab-and-go Styrofoam cup of coffee” joints.
I recently asked our Arizona Highways Television Facebook followers for some of their favorite spots, and I discovered that the list is all over the Arizona map. In southern Arizona, one viewer mentioned a place called Talking Irons Coffee Saloon, saying it feels like a place you would find in San Francisco, not the tiny town of Pearce and calling it “the heart of the community.” Other shoutouts went to Le Buzz Caffe in Tanque Verde and Old Bisbee Roasters in Bisbee.
Up north in Flagstaff, Macy’s is one of the oldest coffeehouses in Arizona and my favorite for a double shot mocha and the biscuits and gravy. Other fan favorites for atmosphere and great beans are Wild Iris in Prescott, Thanks A Latte in Camp Verde, Beale Street Brews in Kingman and LP Espresso in Page.
Our Arcadia neighborhood is bursting with unique places to grab a cup of joe, so I was curious where people go beyond my neighborhood. In the East Valley, everyone loves Liberty Market and their famed Cortadito, a Cuban latte. The owner of Liberty Market was the one who opened Coffee Plantation on Mill Avenue and could be credited for starting the Valley’s coffeehouse obsession.
One viewer said Peixoto in Chandler was as close as it comes to drinking coffee in Europe. Other Valley picks were Cartel in Old Town Scottsdale, Amped Coffee in Anthem, Enroute in Goodyear, Black and White in Glendale and in Phoenix: Provision, The Coronado and Changing Hands.
Whether you like it black, with foam or an extra shot, it’s the community, conversation and creative interaction that will for the foreseeable future keep us a caffeinated culture.
— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.