Best Bites: Spce Coffee's Strawberry Chai is Out of this World

Spce Coffee is decorated with hues of baby pink, light blue, and lavender.
Spce Coffee is decorated with hues of baby pink, light blue, and lavender. Natasha Yee
Welcome to Best Bites, a series where we celebrate not a whole restaurant or menu, but one specific and amazing dish. These bites have something to say and we are listening. Keep reading for dishes that are seriously worth the trek across metro Phoenix to find. Dig in!

With coffee served in a dreamy atmosphere of lavender, light pinks, and blue hues, Spce Coffee is its own special unicorn.

The cafe hails out of a strip mall on McDowell Road near 18th Street, nestled between an Ethiopian restaurant and a nightclub. It gives off an artsy Los Angeles vibe with a bright, airy space and an inventive menu with drinks including a rose petal and vanilla-infused oat milk latte and a black sugar and smoky caramel latte.

But of all the possibilities served at the charming cafe, the Strawberry Chai stands out. House-made strawberry syrup is blended with black tea, mixed with oat milk, and served over ice with a cute pink heart-shaped straw.

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Add a kick to your order with a shot of precisely measured espresso.
Natasha Yee
It brings back memories of sipping that little strawberry milk carton from elementary school, but better. Notes of black tea and chai cut the sweetness and the oat milk lends a creamy goodness without being too heavy for a summer day. Pro tip: If worried about the lack of buzz in this tea-based drink, order an espresso on the side.

Spce, despite its artistic ambitions and adventurous refreshments, had humble beginnings. It started as a coffee cart serving brews from a groovy tent at the Gilbert Farmers Market in June 2020.

The tent, replete with a disco ball, hot pink crates, and a scale to measure precise espresso dosage, gained a following.

By May of 2021, Spce moved the wooden coffee cart to an indoor space across the street from the farmers market framed by pink shutters and a sign that read "Good things coming." A white sign with a black grid listed the drink menu, all in pink except for green lettering for the matcha latte.

But Spce quickly outgrew the tiny indoor cafe as well. By early December 2021, the Phoenix location and its bright pink door greeted customers with white and black speckled counters and wooden tables and stools. Spce still runs the coffee cart on Saturdays at Gilbert Farmers Market, so East Valley folks can still get their chic coffee fix.

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Spce Coffee's pink door welcomes customers on McDowell Road.
Natasha Yee
A retail section on one end of the Phoenix shop sells t-shirts, stickers, tea kettles, and of course, pink heart-shaped straws. At the coffee bar, an immaculate white La Marzocco espresso machine sits in front of a pink-tiled wall with matching ceramic cups. Blue and pink lanterns hang above, adorning the space with more of the dreamlike ambiance, while a tiny white and gold astronaut stands next to the register.

"We are pushing the boundaries of the physical coffee shop by stepping out of the four walls of a building and delivering a proper coffee experience that meets people where they are," the Spce Coffee website reads, and our visit was certainly an experience.

Spce sells cinnamon rolls from Chandler bakery Sugarloaf Lane and fruit pockets from Suss Pastries. The cafe also holds community events like 'Spce at Night,' a ramen, boba, and matcha event with plenty of Instagrammable opportunities. And popular drinks like the Strawberry Chai, the Classic Oaty, a vanilla bean and oat milk latte, and Rosie Girl, the aforementioned rose petal infused latte, are occasionally offered in glass bottles via 'Spce 2 Go.'

Head to Spce Coffee to arrive in another galaxy, one with fantastical colors and whimsical drinks, namely the Strawberry Chai. And if for no other reason at all, do it for the 'gram.

Spce Coffee

1736 East McDowell Road
Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Natasha Yee is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.
Contact: Natasha Yee