There are quite a few good places to grab a cup of coffee in central Phoenix but none quite like A.T. Oasis Coffee and Tea Shop, located just east of 46th Street and Thomas.
The 10-month old shop is owned by Aisha Tedros -- originally from Eritrea, just north of Ethiopia -- and serves coffee, speciality espresso drinks, smoothies, as well as a small selection of food including sandwiches, salads, and a few Africa and Middle Eastern dishes. But more interesting that than is that Tedros also imports green coffee beans directly from Ethiopia and distributes them to several of the Valley's well-known and most respected coffee shops.
Tedros moved to the States 12 years ago and worked in the service industry (including at Mimi's Cafe) for years. She's a self-described "coffee shop hopper," who's always been interested in the coffee industry and wanted to open her own place.
Tedros imports green coffee beans from Ethiopia exclusively, working directly with an importer who's also a coffee farmer. She then sells the beans to local roasters including Echo Coffee in Scottsdale and Tempe's Cartel Coffee and distributes raw beans to Bergie's Coffee in Gilbert. Tedros also uses a coffee roaster to produce her own roasts, which you can buy by the pound at A.T. Oasis. She sells four different roasts at her shop that range in price from about $11 to $14/pound.
In addition to the roasted and raw beans, you can get your caffeine fix at the shop with hot coffee, toddy, cappuccinos, lattees, teas, and more. The hot coffee with ginger ($3/small) makes for an aromatic, and slightly spicy pick-me-up -- and if you don't find it gingery enough at first, feel free to ask Tedros to add more of the ground mix to your cup.
As for the food, there's a small menu (because Tedros says she doesn't want to do anything unless she can do it well). You can go for the sandwiches and salads, but your best bet might be the more interesting options like the ful medames ($6.99), a popular Egyptian/Sudanese dish that features Tedros' homemade cooked and mashed fava beans topped with tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, feta cheese, and olive oil. Served with a generous side of pita, the dish makes a light but surprisingly filling meal.
Tedros also recommends her homemade falafel, which comes served as a pita sandwich. She says friend who used to own a popular falafel restaurant in Sudan taught her to make them from scratch. As for the pastries, they aren't made in-house but Tedros says she hopes find a good baker soon.
And if you're lucky -- or just ask -- Tedros can also show you a traditional Eritrean coffee ceremony. Similar but not quite the same as a Ethiopian coffee ceremony, the Eritrean version begins by roasting the green coffee beans. Participants are then allowed to smell the roasted beans before they're ground and boiled in a clay pot. The finished coffee gets served with dates and incense in small cups.
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According to Tedros, the clay pot brings out completely different flavors than other brewing methods, allowing drinkers to appreciate the coffee's full flavor. And whether you can tell the difference or not, it's quite a unique experience.
A.T. Coffee & Tea Shop 4613 E. Thomas Road 602-957-2054
Tuesday to Friday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.