King Coffee Brings a Fresh New Face to an Old Tempe Favorite

Espresso and Ice Cream -- what's there to dislike?
Espresso and Ice Cream -- what's there to dislike?
Zaida Dedolph

King Coffee, a new near-campus coffee shop, opened four weeks ago in the space once occupied by 3 Roots Coffee House (RIP). The storefront has seen some turnover since the iconic hippie cafe closed its doors a few years ago, but we're hoping King Coffee will stick around.

See also: Mornin' Moonshine in Downtown Phoenix Is Cute, But Misses The Mark on Quality

Those who regularly visited 3 Roots in its heyday will recall the colorful walls, friendly atmosphere. and cozy (read: crowded) study rooms. You'll still find all that in the new space, but in a cleaner, more cohesive way. King Coffee is about half the size of its predecessor, but is somehow also more open. There's a lot less seating than before -- a handful of small tables scattered throughout the space, a narrow bar with low stools along the window, two easy chairs in the corner. There are a few outdoor seats, too, but that's about it. The space strikes a nice balance between airy and homey.

You won't find a delicious tempeh sloppy joe at King Coffee, but you can treat yourself to a smorgasbord of fresh-baked pastries, bagels, and random packaged snacks.

King Coffee uses beans from Tempe-based Cortez Coffee Roasters. Our experience with Cortez's coffee has been varied in the past; they tend toward a full-bodied, at times heavy-handed flavor profile. This style can be fantastic when prepared well, but there's a very small margin of preparational error between "full-bodied" and "undrinkable."

We were pleased by King Coffee's ability to brew these coffees in a dynamic yet disciplined way. We were particularly taken with a single-estate Kenyan coffee brewed using a Hario V-60 pourover. The coffee was perfectly extracted, fresh, floral, and sweet. Intensely aromatic peach notes dominated the cup, which were nicely balanced by a rich milk chocolate and toasted pecan body. This was easily the best cup of Cortez Coffee we've had to date.

At the barista's urging, we also tried the Affogato. To be fair, it's hard to write anything bad about an affogato -- even the most sinister espresso aficionado can't say no to a scoop of ice cream. And this was not your grandma's affogato. A hefty scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and two shots of espresso were topped with fresh-made whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. We ain't mad at that.

While King Coffee is still growing into its paws a bit, their staff were friendly, sincere, and genuinely interested in building something great in the much-beloved space. We'll be watching to see where they go from here.

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