Chow Bella

Espresso, Peanut Butter, and Nutella Together at Last at the Refuge in Phoenix

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See also: 8 Best Coffee Houses in Metro Phoenix

As we reported in September, The Refuge is a product of Catholic Charities Community Services, a social services agency devoted to helping in-need persons -- including refugees -- by offering them a warm welcome in addition to practical types of support. Not only is Catholic Charities using profits to broaden its assistance to refugees, it is also giving proceeds to other area nonprofits. If that isn't enough, The Refuge is serving and selling Café Esperanza, a Central and South American blend that features Arabica beans. Profits from the sale of Café Esperanza help support AZ LeaderForce, an organization that helps strengthen and guide nonprofit agencies and its collaborating charities.

The coffee, we found out at a recent tasting event, is deep and hearty. The strong and earthy blend left us without tinges of acidity, maintaining a smoothness. The Refuge's cold brew was pretty refreshing, too.

One fun way to get a caffeine fix was via a drink that isn't yet featured on the menu but that our server referred to as The Jam, a shot of espresso that hosted a combination of a softened frozen mix of peanut butter and Nutella in its demure cup. Sinful enough to make you want more but also satisfying by offering a brief moment of coffee-meets-sweets ecstasy. A blueberry and lavender hot tea was light and warm, inspiring thoughts of return visits as the colder evenings become more frequent.

The Refuge's menu includes breakfast items, soup and salads, sandwiches, appetizers, a couple entrée-size options and desserts. What Chef Eddie and his crew excel at is creating some dishes that really honor lightness and freshness. The hummus plate, for one, is a joy. Hummus is beloved, but let's face it, it's tough to find it the same at any two restaurants. While that can make it exciting, it can also be a little daunting. The Refuge's variety is delicate and creamy; it tastes like it has been made for you as you uttered the selection to a server. The herbs stay a bit lifted from the mix, allowing a good taste of all the flavors. It's good with all its accompanying dippers -- pillowy pita bread, crispy red peppers, and cucumbers. Olives and feta join in for some tang.

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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young