Best Of :: Shopping & Services
When Cartel Coffee Lab opened its doors in 2007, it changed the game for coffee shops across the state. In Arizona, roasting beans was unheard of, and unless they'd visited Portland or Seattle, most Arizonans didn't really have a clue that coffee could be so good. With its über-hip industrial space and walls adorned with artwork from the Tempe community, Cartel is still top dog in this 'hood. A couple of other shops have tried, but not a single one can come close to the quality beverages made by the expertly trained staff. You may have to wait a minute or two longer for your cup of joe, but you can't rush the best.
There are three factors that contribute to a good shot of espresso — beans, machine, and barista. If even one of the pieces of that trifecta is off, your shot of espresso can suffer. Luckily, the boys behind Scottsdale Quarter's Press Coffee Roasters have the process down. Created with their bold house-roasted Twitch Espresso Blend and pulled by their talented baristas off their top-of-the-line Synesso espresso machine, the end result is a perfectly balanced earthy shot of espresso with hints of sweet fruit, notes of chocolate, and a slightly smoky finish.A great way to start the day — or make sure it doesn't start too early.
Great coffee starts with high-quality beans, and the folks at Cartel score only the best from Brazil for their impressive Black Market Espresso. The four-bean blend is sourced from a single high-elevation farm in the Sul de Mina region of Brazil, where it goes through its natural pulping process on-site before it is shipped off the farm. Cartel then roasts these beans to perfection, creating a bold-flavored coffee with citrus and chocolate notes and a dash of sweetness.
We were sold on this quaint and cozy coffee shop the second that designer-turned-barista Pat Flanagan opened the doors of his freshly remodeled spot last spring. The warm interior and interesting artwork begs you to take a few minutes out of your day to stay and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee (beans courtesy of Lux). But Carmel's isn't just a coffee house — it serves a full menu of delicious breakfast and lunch treats. Fresh-baked quiches, scones, and muffins, flaky croissant sandwiches, and even crepes are available. When the weather permits, Carmel's has plenty of patio space to savor your coffee while watching traffic go by on Camelback.
All of the sudden, there's a lot of coffee competition on Roosevelt Row. But for us, there's no contest. Fresh house-roasted beans, an in-house bakery, an omelet bar, and a beautiful selection of rotating artwork are just a few reasons why Lola is our go-to downtown coffee shop. Artisan coffee roaster and latte art fanatic Daniel Wayne has created a laid-back atmosphere with a welcoming demeanor — and some of the best whipped cream in town. The espresso-infused whip gives Lola's coffee drinks a sweet and creamy kick. Try the dark chocolate and orange Café Borgia or the coffee shop's almost famous Matador.
Crepes and coffee go together like peanut butter and jelly, David Lee Roth and Van Halen, or vodka and Red Bull. Without one, the other is lonely and incomplete. Thankfully, Cupz N' Crepes is keeping the coffee-and-crepe team together at its Paris-inspired shop in Ahwatukee. Dig into a delicate crepe packed full of sweet Nutella and ripe bananas or the savory Veggie Delight, filled with spinach, tomatoes, and goat cheese. The coffee is always fresh and the bold espresso drinks are expertly crafted. A can't-miss breakfast or lunch stop on the south side of town.