In April 2019, Apartment Guide released "The 10 Best Cities For Starbucks Lovers In America" — and we made the list. Scottsdale sneaked into the 10th slot, and though Tempe didn't make the Top 10, it sat comfortably in the 11th position.
So the Valley, east side anyway, loves its Starbucks. Which is fine — it has quality, convenient coffee — but there are many local shops throwing up some solid, well-sourced, damn good coffee. Of all the great places to kick back and caffeinate in greater Phoenix, these 16 are our current favorites.
Giant Coffee1437 North First Street
This shop, from the owners of Matt’s Big Breakfast, delivers the same simple elegance and commitment to quality ingredients that we’ve come to love from Matt’s. At Giant Coffee, it’s the little things that count the most. It makes the most of its straightforward ingredients, from the only lightly homogenized Straus Creamery “barista milk” (which gives the lattes a signature buttery sweetness) to the 24 Blackbirds Chocolate, which makes Giant's mochas perfectly chocolatey, but not too sweet. Giant’s house-made pastries take the cake and are the perfect accompaniment to coffee from San Francisco's Four Barrel Coffee. But the coffee can’t take all the credit: Giant’s baristas ensure that each drink is crafted perfectly or they don’t serve it. And to top it all off, the shop’s atmosphere is as classic and honest as its drinks. Giant’s airy, sunny space is beautiful and clean, which makes it a great place to meet friends, enjoy a breakfast burrito, or get a little work done.
Peixoto Coffee Roasters11 West Boston Street, #6, Chandler
Peixoto Coffee's service and product quality reflect an uncommon maturity. The shop primarily roasts and serves coffee from owner Julia Peixoto Peters’ family farm in Brazil, but it does make a few exceptions, featuring beans from other regions around the world. Where Peixoto has truly succeeded, in a way that arguably no other local shop has, is in educating consumers about how coffee makes its way from crop to cup. Photos around the shop feature coffee fruit ripening, being harvested, and being processed, and a simple painted map on one of the shop’s exposed brick walls puts things in a geographic perspective. Peixoto Coffee is working hard to introduce Brazilian culture, coffee, and cuisine to the East Valley by offering authentic pastries and bossa nova music nights. The shop also has stayed in touch with national specialty coffee trends, bringing fun items like nitro cold brew and iced cascara to the local scene.
Maverick Coffee10269 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
This delightful Scottsdale shop blows us away. Two of Maverick Coffee’s owners are Olympic-caliber athletes — and the shop's baristas' execution is every bit as disciplined, yet artful, as you might expect. The shop, which sells coffee from San Francisco-based Ritual Coffee Roasters, pairs a relaxed atmosphere with immaculate coffee preparation. The service is friendly and knowledgeable, but they do without any kind of pretentious coffee-shop air; the staff aren’t afraid to have a little fun. Every Friday, for example, customers are encouraged to challenge their barista to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and if the customer wins, they get their coffee for free.
King Coffee1020 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
King Coffee is a Tempe-area shop with that special, indescribable something. The cafe isn’t the fanciest one on this list. It’s definitely not the best-designed. And it’s certainly not the most spacious. But there’s something about this pint-sized cafe that we just adore. Maybe it brings us back to our college days; King Coffee certainly has all the hallmarks of a casual college-town cafe (artwork made by some dude’s friend? Hand-drawn posters for local house shows? Yes and yes.) But contrary to the classic college coffee shop ethos, King doesn’t slack when it comes to quality. King Coffee’s staff do a great job with beans from local roaster Cortez Coffee. And as if that wasn’t enough, they are always warm and welcoming — you won’t find any disaffected, grumbly college baristas at this shop. What this shop lacks in square footage it makes up for in atmosphere, friendliness, and coffee fit for a king.
Cartel Coffee Lab1 North First Street
We had a hard time picking a favorite Cartel Coffee location — after all, the roaster has built a small empire in metro Phoenix and Tucson, and each of the shops has a unique feel to fit its neighborhood and surroundings. Each of Cartel’s locations are great in their own way, but we’re particularly partial to the downtown Phoenix locale, and we've always been thrilled with our coffee drinks here. Fun decorations, including a wall partition made of bicycle wheels and a colorful, low-hanging chandelier, make the space’s open design and sleek, industrial interior a bit more welcoming. This particular store attracts a more mature audience than the college student-dominated Tempe and Tucson stores, and serves as a truly underrated downtown Phoenix third space.
Fillmore Coffee600 North Fourth Street
Just a few short blocks east of Central Avenue, Fillmore Coffee Co. is a haven from the hustle and bustle of downtown Phoenix. The coffee shop is tucked away on the first floor of the Skyline Loft Apartments and is the perfect place to grab a quick cup of coffee. If you're looking for a pastry or hearty breakfast sandwich to go with your morning cup of joe, Fillmore's got you covered. They offer breakfast all day and they only use organic ingredients.
Royal Coffee BarMultiple Locations
Royal Coffee’s clean, balanced roasts and stellar execution make visiting any of its locations a treat. Not only do they roast some incredible beans, Royal’s baristas are welcoming and extremely talented at preparing their product. This is definitely a haven for local coffee aficionados. We’re pretty much in love with the espresso blend; sweet, clean, and impeccably balanced, it never ceases to disappoint. The Heritage Square location makes incredible use of a small space. The coffee spot inside the historic, 1899 carriage house is owned by Hector and Michelle Ruiz, and the two have been roasting small batch coffee since 2008. This little shop’s simple, gnarled wooden tables and funky wall hangings pack a huge punch when it comes to decor. Royal’s roaster takes up a fair amount of the shop, so interested parties can watch the coffee magic happen. Transparency, fantastic coffee, and great design all make Royal Coffee a gem.
Lakeview Coffee8300 North Hayden Road, Suite E107, Scottsdale
Scottsdale’s Lakeview Coffee is a classic coffee shop in every sense. This big, breezy shop offers great service and ample seating in a casual environment. We especially love the patio — it’s big, beautiful, secluded, and peaceful. But it takes more than a great space to impress us: We want to taste the quality, and Lakeview hasn’t let us down yet. The shop roasts their own beans in house, in full view of their dedicated following, and the shop’s owners aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty behind the bar. The shop serves a variety of delicious foods and creative pastries, from simple snacks to full meals (European-style pastry cones are a nice and unique touch). All in all, Lakeview coffee is nothing more or less than a great, classic coffeehouse.
Songbird Coffee & Tea House812 North Third Street
We once described Songbird Coffee & Tea House as “a living Pinterest board” — high praise, in our book. That sentiment still stands and has only grown stronger since the shop relocated to a quaint downtown location a few years back. The historic Third Street house, built in 1904, has brought ample seating (both indoor and outdoor) and an exterior to match the shop’s quirky, fun decor. We like a coffee shop that isn’t afraid to experiment a little, and experiment Songbird does — with pop-up food vendors, new pastries, and of course, crazy coffee drinks. But that doesn’t mean they’re not committed to quality. Songbird, for the most part, keeps its menu simple and focuses on the basics: making great drinks with Cortez Coffee Roasters beans. Drinks prepared well by people who enjoy preparing them? We are completely on board with that idea.
Regroup Coffee + Bicycles4227 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale
Another Old Town coffee joint, Regroup is a haven for espresso enthusiasts and avid cyclists alike. Every new shipment of beans are cupped and assessed for quality in roast and overall flavor, and drinks prepared using the coveted Slayer Espresso machine make it that much better. And they’ll never serve coffee with a roast date longer than two weeks earlier. The baristas at Regroup are always friendly and upbeat — it’s the perfect place to grab a macchiato on your morning bike ride (they also have a full-service bike repair and rental shop). For a morning pick-me-up, check out the Slayer Shake, a blend of cold brew, almond milk, almond butter, banana, cacao, and plant-based protein.
Lola Coffee Bar1001 North Third Avenue
We’re continuously impressed with Lola Coffee Bar in downtown Phoenix, which always seems to be serving a delectable array of delicious pastries like chocolate strawberry pop tarts, peach raspberry almond tarts, chocolate hazelnut tarts, and more. There’s ample seating on the cozy, shaded back patio and a selection of well-crafted coffee drinks. The Matador is the drink to try — espresso, mocha, and cinnamon topped with espresso whipped cream. Or treat yourself to an iced caramel latte in the sweltering Arizona heat.
Berdena's7100 East Fifth Street Avenue, #1, Scottsdale
Since opening two years ago, this Old Town Scottsdale gem is already garnering a dedicated fan base. Berdena’s keeps it simple with a clean, fresh, modern aesthetic and a simple menu featuring coffee drinks from San Francisco-based Ritual Coffee Roasters. We love that they serve tasty and aesthetically pleasing pastries from lightly salted avocado toast, Straus yogurt, to crispy, airy yeast-raised waffles.
Bergies Coffee Roast House309 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
For coffee-lovers in the East Valley, Bergies is a down-to-earth space serving the freshest roasts and an array of exciting drinks. Brothers and owners Brian and Bruce Bergeson strive to achieve the perfect roast for each individual batch of beans, a meticulous process of trial and error. The shop itself is small and cozy, situated among a larger patio space in the heart of downtown Gilbert.
Lux Central4400 North Central Avenue
With a loud and lively atmosphere in the evenings, Lux is definitely the go-to spot to hang with friends in uptown Phoenix. They offer an extensive list of espresso drinks with baristas who really know their stuff. All coffee beans are hand-roasted in house and come from Brazil, Sumatra, Nicaragua, and more. In addition, Lux serves a variety of great eats as well as beer, wine, and cocktails in the bar area itself is dimly lit, with plenty of community-style seating, and stays open late daily.
Press Coffee Roasters1616 North Central Avenue, #102
Press Coffee is (yet another) commendable accomplishment from one of our favorite local roasters. The big, open space has plenty of seating and brings a few fun and funky elements to the clean, modern design we’ve come to appreciate from Press’s other locations. Expansive windows bring light into the space, while red accent chairs give the space a sleek and modern feel. We've never been disappointed by Press’ unique, region-centric coffees, and the cafe on the bottom floor of the Muse Apartments delivers the same impressive execution we’ve come to expect at Press’ other outposts. The company truly roasts the perfect cup for anyone’s taste. And if you aren’t sure what you like, the shop's friendly and knowledgeable baristas will be more than happy to help you find it.
Gold Bar Espresso3141 South McClintock Drive, Tempe
If you leave Gold Bar Espresso thirsty, you messed up somewhere. The family-owned and -operated coffee shop has been quenching parched mouths in Tempe since the mid-'90s. It offers a wide selection of beverages: the obvious coffee and espresso drinks, as well as Italian sodas, teas, smoothies, and hot cocoas. Pop in on a weekend night and enjoy live jazz or grab a few friends for one of their popular game nights. If it's just coffee and Wi-Fi that you require, they've got you covered on that front on the daily. There're a few tables and chairs outside if the weather's right, and a small back-room area that makes a great meeting space.
Driftwood Coffee8295 West Jefferson Street, Peoria
Driftwood Coffee, located in the heart of Old Town Peoria, is all about community. Owners Luke Bentley and Lance Linderman intentionally have created a space where people can drink coffee, enjoy a great meal, and just be together. A community-centered attitude is apparent in all that Driftwood does; they even support other coffee shops by featuring their beans. Choose between a locally or nationally roasted bean, depending on how altruistic you feel. Their speed bar, touting espresso drinks, cold brew, and a hot and iced tea selection, is perfect for the early morning grind.
Jobot Coffee333 East Roosevelt Street
Jobot may not be everyone's cup of tea — partially because of the blaring punk or hardcore music that is typically playing or maybe because if you sit on the patio you might have to (gasp) talk to a homeless person — but boy, that patio kicks butt. Most coffeehouses in town have a couple of tables outside or don't have anywhere to sit outdoors at all, so when the weather is actually nice, there's no coffeehouse we'd rather haunt than Jobot with its ample out-front seating and insane open-all-night hours. That's not to mention the incomparable people-watching, which yields an array of tattoos and piercings you may not have even known were possible.
A Shot of Java7003 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
Tucked back in the alleyway off the main drag, A Shot of Java is going to be the most authentic coffee shop you’ll find in downtown Glendale. Inside the tiny coffeehouse — and it does feel like a living room — you'll find a few tables, local art, and the order counter. Offerings include pour-over coffee, cold brew, lattes and mochas, Vietnamese-style coffee, and additional options like tea, Italian sodas, smoothies, and hot cocoa. The alley is heavily shaded by trees (or lit by twinkle lights) and adorned with bistro-style tables and chairs, artwork, and a little bit of traffic hum from Glendale Avenue.
Belhaus1301 Grand Avenue, #6
Operating in the Grand Avenue Arts District as a double-agent art gallery and coffee shop, Belhaus has charm and grit inside the unassuming storefront off 13th Avenue in the old Bragg's Pie Factory building. When owner Anthony Fiorelli got a call from soon-to-be partners Gino and Sherri Belassen, he knew it was time to take his vintage Vespa coffee cart, Caffio, to the next level. Regular hours began in November 2018. Utilizing a Colombian-Honduran blend from local Xanadu Coffee Roasters, the espresso and accompanying latte art are sure to please. Stroll in for their signature Lumio, a savory and comforting burnt honey latte, and stay for the people-watching.
Be Coffee + Food + Stuff214 East Roosevelt Street
Open at 6 a.m. daily, Be Coffee is your go-to coffee spot at the crack of dawn. This joe joint is housed inside the monOrchid gallery, so feel free to stroll past the art while waiting for your cup. The spicy cold brew comes highly recommended for an extra kick (or go with the spicy white chick with a topping of white chocolate ganache), or sip on a traditional latte if you would rather keep it classy. If your stomach is already growling, try the English Ham + Muenster, a breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs served on a griddled MJ muffin, or the Schreiner's Spanish chorizo scramble to pair with that spicy cold brew. Their peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth, and the generous serving means that you will probably have leftovers for your trek through the city.
Serafina Coffee Roasters45 West Jefferson Street
This Warehouse District spot opened its doors in March of last year in the historic Luhrs Towers. No novice to the business, owner Damien Serafina actually launched his first coffee shop in the Valley, Roma Coffee, back in 1992. As you can imagine, the landscape has changed a bit since then. Roasting their own small-batch Ugandan coffee on-site is just part of the charisma of the current establishment. The brick and concrete interior gives Serafina an urban yet homey feel, while local artwork and a black leather Midcentury Modern couch round out the laid-back aura.
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Lost Dutchman Coffee Roasters12 North Center Street, Mesa
Do you have a day of antique shopping ahead of you? Or do you work in downtown Mesa? Either way, stopping in to the Lost Dutchman coffee shop will get you set up. Yes there are options like Americano, cappuccino, and cold press, but there are hyper-local orders like the Gold Rush, and the decaffeinated Flying Dutchman steamers. In addition to a cup of coffee, you can grab green coffee beans for home roasting, or a quick treat from the in-house Lombardo's Gelato Company. The setup is perfect for a laptop day or small group of friends.
Provision Coffee Bar4501 North 32nd Street
Provision Coffee Bar at Arcadia serves coffee with a cause. Striving to build strong community relationships through quality coffee, Provision directs its profits toward aiding struggling areas where coffee is a primary revenue source. It’s a place where direct communication and open dialogue with farmers, including those with crops supplied from Guatemala and Burundi, is held in high regard. The full-service coffee bar offers an array of awesome drinks, including the spiced honey mocha and the honey lavender latte. They also offer loose-leaf teas and nitro cold brew.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on August 24, 2015. It was updated on November 21, 2019.