Best Coffee House, South Phoenix 2011 | Cupz N' Crepes | Shopping & Services
We're suckers for a good crêpe. Light and eggy, savory or sweet, the prospects of grabbing a cuppa joe with a crêpe on the side have us salivating just thinking about it. Lucky for us, at Cupz N' Crepes each part of that dynamic duo stands on its own. The drip coffee is rich and bold, and the fully stocked coffee bar serves up all your favorite espresso-based treats. And the crêpes are just as varied and delicious, whether they're packed with bananas and nutella or eggs and bacon. Cupz N' Crepes will definitely have you coming back for more.
You know those little leaf patterns that baristas create with cream or milk on top of your coffee? Well, the leaves at C4 (as Cave Creek Coffee Company's also known) are perfect — so beautiful that you almost don't want to ruin them by taking a drink. But then you'd miss out on the delicious house blend javas here. Whether you like your coffee dark, medium, or light, C4 has your strength (in house blends called Black Mountain, Black and Tan, and Cowgirl, respectively). Caffiends with a sweet tooth will also relish C4 drinks like the Mocafe (spiced Mexican hot chocolate) and the Mocha Latte (made with Ghirardelli chocolate). And the atmosphere at C4 — which draws an eclectic crowd ranging from old bikers to young artists to families of tourists — is damn cozy, as guests can chill at candlelit tables by the wine bar or in comfy oversize chairs by the coffee bar.
Tucked away in the Southwest Valley, Ground Control serves up delicious coffee drinks from beans that are roasted and ground on site. Ground Control has the usual suspects — Americano, cappuccino, and iced mocha — and signature drinks such as Cafe Sisu (a white and dark chocolate drink); or Cafe Roma, a flavor that mixes dark chocolate, caramel, and praline. The shop offers a variety of blended coffee drinks, including a lactose-free CocoMochaNut and a Blended Fruit Blast with mango, strawberry, peach, banana, sour green apple, and wildberry, a super-fruit antioxidant. Don't look for Wi-Fi at this old-school gathering place, which encourages you to bring a book or a friend instead of a computer. Check out Ground Control for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and don't leave without trying the homemade gelato.
One of the best things about Coffee Rush in Chandler is the view — where else in the Valley can you sip a hot, fresh cappuccino while cooling your heels next to a big blue man-made lake? And it's not just the cappuccino and lake that make this place awesome. Just walk in and get a whiff of all the delicious mochas and lattes. There are almost too many menu items to choose from. But if figuring out whether you want a scrumptious caramel nut latte or a strawberry vanilla java or a tiramisu mocha or a regular ol' Americano is the hardest decision you'll make all day, that's not so bad. The atmosphere here is cool, too, with free Wi-Fi for costumers, a pet-friendly patio, and a friendly staff that treats even newbies like regular customers.
There's a reason many other coffee shops in the Valley use beans from Cartel Coffee Lab: flavor, baby. Lots of it. Cartel's beans create rich and nutty espressos, smooth and sweet iced toddies, and chocolaty mochas. Baristas at Cartel roast their coffee beans on site, which means everything is super-fresh. And if you want to know every little detail of how your coffee is made and what's in it, the baristas at Cartel can tell you. This is a place for coffee connoisseurs. In fact, the baristas are so confident in the absolute perfection of their coffees that any request to change up the recipe is likely to be met with rolling eyes or a raised eyebrow. So if you want to order a coffee with "one pump caramel, one pump white mocha, two scoops of vanilla bean powder, with whipped cream and caramel drizzle on the top, no ice, double-cupped," go to Starbucks. But if you're just looking for a damn good cup of coffee that doesn't take five minutes to order (but, be warned, might take a good long time to make), then Cartel's got you covered.
Yes, we have coffee in the Valley — and good coffee, at that —but, more important, we have a lot of great coffee shops with great neighborhood vibes. The very best of Scottsdale is found at the local neighborhood hangout Echo. It is totally okay with your setting up a laptop and camping for the day. Echo will make delicious coffee treats or brew a cup of black drip for you. It also serves food, so after hours of staring at the screen, when the belly starts to rumble, Echo will help you take care of that and make you an afternoon espresso drink, the best we've found in these parts.
While the coffee at Cup O' Karma is decent, there are three things for which this place is better known. First, the iced teas are to die for. Patrons can choose from a wide variety of teas (hot, cold, or even blended like smoothies) and fruity flavors like tangerine. The place's green and chai teas are particularly delectable. Second, there's plenty of seating and the Internet Wi-Fi signal is super-strong (it's rare to go into Cup O' Karma and not see at least three people pounding away on their laptops). Third, proceeds from the sales of Cup O'Karma's beverages goes to a charity called Seeds of Hope, which works with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Throw in the local artwork on the walls and live acoustic music, and Cup O' Karma's got their recipe for success.
Bountiful Baskets is one of the largest volunteer-run co-ops in Arizona, with well over 100 locations from Sahuarita to Bullhead City and just about everywhere in between. In Phoenix alone, there are about 18 locations. It's entirely volunteer-run with no requirement to opt in every week. Decide on Tuesday whether you want a basket full of produce the coming weekend — 15 bucks for the regular basket or 30 bucks for the organic offering — and you're good to go. They also offer weekly deals on bread, cases of produce (peaches, tomatoes, whatever's in season), Asian/Mexican/Italian packs, and lots of holiday fun, such as DIY cookie kits. Just make sure you show up every once in a while to volunteer!
Eating locally grown, fresh produce is nutritious, delicious, and good for the economy and environment, but sometimes acquiring the aforementioned produce is just so . . .  difficult. There are more farmers markets and local food outlets than ever before. Desert Roots Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA) in Queen Creek, makes getting farm-fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs super-easy. Twelve-week seasonal memberships (or six-week during the summer) come in whole and half sizes. More than 10 pickup locations span the Valley. If that's not convenient enough, for an extra five bucks a week, they'll deliver the seasonal eats directly to your home or work.
Out in what used to be a rural part of the Valley sits this wonderful 70-year-old farm, where the organic peaches are there for the picking (for a price), and so much more. Talk about agri-tourism. This hardworking family has a lot on its plate, running a country store and bakery, working a seven-acre vegetable "patch," giving grand tours, looking after a campsite with 25 full hookups for the motor-home set, and hosting weddings, birthday parties for the little ones, and other big-time life events. Even Muhammad Ali has checked things out on the farm — we hear he had a great time. But it's those peaches that pull us back year after year, basket after basket, bite after bite. Sweet!

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