"What's your specialty drink?" and "What's the most caffeinated coffee you carry?" are pretty common questions at a coffee shop. Usually, baristas will give a specific answer: at Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe, they recommended the iced toddy. At Gold Bar Espresso in Tempe, we were encouraged to try the Mocha Especiale.
But at Village Coffee Roastery in Scottsdale, asking "What's the most caffeinated coffee you carry?" netted the answer: "It's always just gonna be coffee." Um, okay, well, "Do you have a recommended house blend?"
The answer was something along the lines of how they have several house blends on drip, it's all self-serve, and there are different blends on the counter at different times. I was then handed a cup and left to my own devices. So much for friendly, informative service.
Thankfully, the ambiance and coffee at Village Coffee Roastery made up for the barista's lack of enthusiasm.
Village Coffee Roastery
8120 N. Hayden Road #E104, Scottsdale
Although there isn't much wiggle room in the place when it's packed (it's about the size of a large, narrow hallway), it's comfortable and quaint on a Sunday afternoon, with couples and small groups of friends conversing at tables inside and outside. The decor is hip and cozy, with colorful paintings and photographs lining the walls. Most notably, there are a few light blue, crushed velvet armchairs by the door, which are not only pristine-looking, but super cushy.
Village Coffee Roastery isn't homogeneous like Starbucks, but there's nothing that would really compel somebody to hang out here all the time, like they do at local coffee shops like Conspire and Lux. My companion captured it perfectly: "It's a nice place to go if all you want is coffee and quiche."
But how was the coffee? We went with the El Salvador, which the placard informed us had "light body, high acidity, and chocolate overtones." The description was totally accurate -- the brew was bitter, but balanced by a sweet kick and aftertaste. We added three packets of sugar and some half and half cream to ours, but even black, the El Salvador was slightly sweet. The caffeine rush was noticeable for a good half hour after we drank the cup o' joe, but wasn't any more substantial than a carbonated energy drink.
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