Elevate Coffee House

A good West Valley coffee shop isn't easy to come by — so many we've loved have shut their doors and taken their sweet coffee drinks and free Wi-Fi with them. Thank goodness we've been blessed with Elevate Coffee Co. The modern coffee shop is inviting, with lots of cozy nooks in which to relax with a hot latte and a good book or sit at one of the sleek tables with a laptop, a java chip frappe, and a Southwest turkey sandwich during lunch. If you're in a rush, this coffee shop lets you text in your order, and they will even deliver to your car when you arrive. Warning: The coffee shop is owned by a church, but we swear you'd never know unless someone told you; nevertheless, you may want to leave your "F*@# Religion" shirt at home.

The Coffee Shop

On the grounds of Agritopia (home of Joe's Farm Grill) in Gilbert, The Coffee Shop is a sanctuary from run-of-the-mill strip-mall coffee joints. Set in a beautifully repurposed maintenance garage, the spacious modern building has tons of natural light and plenty of seating. The baristas behind the counter whip up fantastic iced lattes and specialty drinks, including the Black and White — a unique blend of espresso, steamed milk, white chocolate, and milk chocolate topped with a healthy dose of fresh whipped cream. And The Coffee Shop has cupcakes — lots and lots of cupcakes. This place can get packed, but there is plenty of seating among the trees outside to escape the crowds. Don't forget your laptop and your puppy; Wi-Fi is free, and furry friends are allowed on the patio.

Matador Coffee Roasting Company

This strip-mall gem serves hot cups of fresh-brewed coffee from its skillfully roasted beans along with sweet housemade pastries. Matador strives to roast only the best beans daily, giving each and every cup of coffee or shot of espresso an extra kick of flavor to start your caffeinated day on the right foot. Curl up in one of the shop's tucked-away chairs with a book or get out your laptop and take advantage of free Wi-Fi. And if you need something stronger than coffee to get you through that paper you've been working on for a week, Matador serves up a nice selection of beer and wine.

Cartel Coffee Lab

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.

Village Coffee Roastery

The first thing that you'll notice when you walk in the doors of this sleek coffee shop is the giant bean roaster on the south side of the room, and most of our afternoon visits have been accompanied by the aroma of fresh-roasted coffee. The shop's small-batch roasted beans have an exotic flavor achieved by using a patented scientific method employed by only a handful of roasters in the world. The result is a smooth, balanced blend that doesn't need even a dash of cream or sugar. The only thing that rivals the shop's coffee is its handmade fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries and Danishes. Stop by for a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

Four Peaks Brewing Company
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Four Peaks seems to have winning down to a science. At the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, the brewery's American IPA, Hop Knot, took home the bronze; at the 2012 World Beer Cup, it claimed the gold, along with its Kolsch, SunBru. Four Peaks was the only Arizona brewery honored in the World Beer Cup's judging competition — actually coming within half a medal of winning Champion Mid-size Brewery and Brewmaster — and was ranked among the top 50 craft brewers in terms of sales volume for 2011. With a new production facility set to open this year, an impending partnership with a nearby distillery, great beer, and the hardware to prove it, Four Peaks' success should only continue.

Flanny's

Beer geeks, craft brew nerds, and classy alcoholics rejoiced this year when the Arizona Liquor Board changed its rules and began allowing bars and restaurants with certain liquor licenses to fill 64-ounce glass jugs — a.k.a. growlers — with draft beer from their favorite breweries. And when we feel the need to get our trusty growlers filled to go, we head over to South Tempe's Flanny's Bar & Grill. Not only will they fill any clean growler for $12 (and up, depending on the beer), but they have one of the best rotations of draft selections in town. Mark your calendars for the third Thursday of each month, when Flanny's hosts a different brewery for their monthly tap takeovers. We can't promise everything will be available for your growler, but there's a 100 percent chance you'll be able to fill up with something awesome.

Whole Foods Market

The choice of beer at most grocery stores comes down to color — would you like the boring, mass-produced lager that comes in a blue box or the boring, mass-produced lager that comes in a silver box? Not so at this Whole Foods location, where scores of bottles from Belgium, Germany, Canada, and every state in the union stand in refrigerated, fluorescent-lit glory. Beer nerd James Swann not only keeps the shelves stocked with some of the best craft brews around, but also holds weekly classes at the Watering Hole — the in-store beer bar — to educate and inebriate the masses.

Sun Devil Liquors

Where else in the East Valley can you grab a bottle of Arizona Stronghold's Mandala Red, a six-pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and a bottle of Crystal Head vodka, all without leaving the comfort of your vehicle? Sun Devil Liquors has one of the biggest selections of craft beer and an extensive selection of locally made wines and unique spirits. The staff knows more about booze than anyone we've ever meet and has awesome suggestions if you're into trying new things. The drive-thru is great for those lazy beer runs, but we find it hard to resist getting out of the car to peruse the packed shelves inside.

Getting out of the car to pick up a 12-pack of Coors sucks. You have to turn the car off and then walk into the store and, well, it's just a big pain in the behind (that we'd rather be sitting on while drinking). Luckily, someone had the genius idea to sell booze from the window of his store. Family-owned and -operated Henry's Liquor has been around for more than a decade, selling spirits, beer, and wine for much cheaper prices than their drive-thru competitors. The store itself is a little rough around the edges, but the staff is extremely friendly. If you choose to get out of your car, you'll find the the store's interior to be kempt and organized. Henry's has a decent selection of wine, but you're better off sticking to booze.

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