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Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Vintage Christmas Stuff
Zinnias at Melrose

We didn't used to own a set of Santa Claus salt-and-pepper shakers or a Frosty the Snowman slushy maker, but we do now, thanks to Zinnias at Melrose, our favorite spot in town for vintage holiday gewgaws and all things Christmas. There, we've seen boxes of 60-year-old Shiny Brite glass tree ornaments stacked alongside mint-in-package tinsel, bags of still-glossy garland strings, and even an ancient card full of brightly painted jingle bells. We bought as much as we could and dragged it all ho-ho-home. Next time we were back at Zinnias, there was even more Christmas stuff, right where we couldn't miss it, just inside the door. It's remained there, year-round — well, most of it, anyway. We keep going back and buying more red-and-green holiday stuff from the '50s and '60s. And you can, too.

724 W. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 85013
MAP
602-264-4166
Best Shot of Espresso
Press Coffee Roasters

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.

15147 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 85254
MAP
480-718-9762
Best Coffee Beans
Black Market Espresso

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.

225 W. University Dr., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-432-8237
Best Coffee House, Central Phoenix
Carmel's Coffee & Bakery

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.

4233 E. Camelback, Phoenix, 85018
MAP
480-626-0020
Best Coffee House, Downtown Phoenix
Lola Coffee

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.

1001 N. 3rd Ave., Phoenix, 85003
MAP
602-252-2265
Best Coffee House, South Phoenix
Cupz N' Crepes

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.

4232 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, 85048
MAP
480-706-1963
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Best Vintage Christmas Stuff: Zinnias at Melrose

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