Coffee

Moxie Coffee Co. in Central Phoenix Is Thinking About Those Beans

Moxie Coffee Co. in Central Phoenix Is Thinking About Those Beans
Moxie Coffee


Matt Heltzel was pleasantly surprised by the turnout on Moxie Coffee Co.’s first day in business this past May. Not just by the volume of customers at his central Phoenix coffee shop, but also by who was stopping by.

“A lot of them were owners or managers or employees of other local coffee places here in Phoenix,” Heltzel says. “It was a sign to me that this community — this service community, the craft coffee community — had our back. Especially as someone who’s not originally from Phoenix, it was really nice to get that kind of warm reception.”

Heltzel’s originally from a small town in South Dakota. He got interested in coffee while living in Chicago in college — “I used to roast in my apartment on a vintage hot air popcorn popper,” he says — but it was during a 2011 visit to a Honduras coffee farm that he really caught the coffee bug.

“Something clicked on that trip,” Heltzel says. “It was this combination of, I guess, searching for myself but also searching for mysterious coffees growing in certain ways. I was picking [coffee] cherries and learning how they're dried and processed, and experiencing the culture and the love and care of the people. It just ignited a spark for me.”


click to enlarge MOXIE COFFEE
Moxie Coffee
The next year, Heltzel followed his wife to Denver, where she attended graduate school. He worked as a barista at a series of coffee shops there: Solid Grounds Coffee, Corvus Coffee, Coda Coffee. At each stop along the way, he picked up new skills: customer service, management, roasting. In 2014, while Heltzel was roastmaster at Coda, Roast Magazine named the company “Roaster of the Year.”

Heltzel and his wife moved to Phoenix in 2016. “[Phoenix-based] Shamrock Foods was a big Coda client, and they wanted to start a roastery here,” Heltzel says. “And we really liked the energy here when we came to visit. It just felt right.”

Eventually, Heltzel knew, he wanted to open his own coffee shop. He began scouting possible locations and eventually settled last year on a ground-floor retail space at The Art on Highland, the luxury apartment complex at 16th and Highland Avenue. (It’s next door to the Casual Pint.) On May 8, 2021, Moxie Coffee Co. swung open its doors.
click to enlarge KYLE LEDEBOER
Kyle Ledeboer
Inside, Moxie is roomier than it looks from the street, with a variety of seating arrangements — square tables for two, longer study-friendly tables, a row of high chairs overlooking 16th Street, plus a little patio out front with a walk-up window — high ceilings, and lots of natural light. The bestselling drink so far, Heltzel says, is the New Orleans-style iced coffee: cold brew with chicory, house-made vanilla, and topped with cream. There’s also a specialty drinks menu with items like a prickly pear matcha lemonade. Moxie carries a variety of local treats, too, including pop tarts from Süss Pastries.

You’ll also notice a larger Diedrich roaster taking up a good chunk of space in the back corner.

click to enlarge KYLE LEDEBOER
Kyle Ledeboer

“Our most unique, important thing is that we roast our beans in-house,” Heltzel says. “It’s important to me that we source our beans transparently. We can trace all our beans clearly from where we buy it to the individual farmer or co-op workers and know that everyone along the chain is getting not just a fair wage, but above a fair wage.”

Recently, Moxie began selling those beans — right now, they're sourcing from Rwanda, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Kenya — in 12-ounce bags on the Moxie website, which you can browse here. Or, if you drop by Moxie at the right time of day, you might be able to enjoy your coffee to the tune (and smell) of fresh beans being roasted.

"Yeah, we run it [the roaster] two or three times a week — whenever we need to," Heltzel says. "Gotta keep the stocks shelved and the supply fresh."

Moxie Coffee
4626 N. 16th Street, Suite 101.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., daily.
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David Hudnall is editor in chief of Phoenix New Times. He previously served as editor of The Pitch in Kansas City.
Contact: David Hudnall