Bartenders & Baristas: Lisa Dowd at A Shot of Java

by Wynter Holden

Lisa Dowd is a witty, personable New York transplant who likes to gossip with her neighbors and knows an awful lot about "cawfee." Five years ago, she ditched a lucrative (albeit stressful) career as an X-Ray tech to open a small coffee shop inside a Scottsdale salon. These days, you can find her whipping foam and blending lattes in her downtown Glendale coffee house A Shot of Java. I sat down with Lisa at a shaky metal bistro table in the brick alleyway outside the shop, as tea-drinking poets and passersby eavesdropped on her fabulous stories.

Chow Bella: How did you get into the coffee business? Lisa Dowd: My son used to play competitive soccer and his team won the state championship and the national tournament was in Hawaii. The first night, I was hanging out with one of the dads in the hotel and he's like, "what do you do? Are you happy?" I started bitching about the things I didn't like and said I wanted to own my own business. He said "I own a salon in Scottsdale and I'm thinking about putting a coffee bar in there. It's yours if you want it."

CB: Are you a coffee drinker? LD: Yeah, I drink about four cups of coffee a day. I'd have to say my favorite drink is chai tea, though. And I make this thing called a cocomochanut that's really good. You can do it hot or cold, but I like it hot. Yes, even in the summer.

CB: Tell us the truth. If you're craving coffee and you're driving along the road and see a Starbucks, will you stop there? LD: No, absolutely not. Never.

CB: Why make drinks when you're the boss? Don't you have peons to do that for you? LD: Yeah, I do. I have a couple of really good peons. But I'm really anal. I feel more comfortable making the drinks, because I know I'm doing it with care and with love. And I'm doing it right.

CB: Ok, it's time for the "money shot." Give us your best on-the-job story. LD: This is definitely a place where all the crazies come. I had one guy who came in and he was so eerie and bizarre; his spirit was just so dark, you know. It was around Christmastime and all of the Christmas lights around my counter burned out as he came in. I swear it was him!

CB: That's pretty creepy, but you can do better. LD: Ok, I've got a good one. I was only open a couple of months, and this guy came in and kept staring at me. He had light blue eyes. He ordered coffee, sat down and kept staring the whole time and it was really uncomfortable.

Next day, he comes back with a friend and he's staring at me again. I think, he's gonna rob me or rape me. This guy is a rapist and he's scouting out the place and finding out that I'm here alone a lot.

A couple of days later the guy comes back and I'm thinking oh God, this is it. He comes up to the counter and says, "do you mind if I meet here once a week? I'm a minister and I'm with a Bible group."