Preethy Kaibara is a busy woman. First she worked as a family doctor, then went on to get a law degree, and now practices a mix of the two. But she's also always had a love for food — the result of which is Street Coffee, located on Seventh Street just north of Fillmore, one of the newest cafes in the ever-expanding downtown Phoenix coffee scene. Street, now just over a month old, offers a quality mix of coffee and pastries (and free Wi-Fi) with a few surprising specials thrown in the mix.
The Atmosphere: From a design standpoint, Street probably won't turn many heads, though it serves its purpose well. An open, light-filled space offers ample windows, wood furniture and structuring, and the occasional vintage piece — an antique scale, for example — providing a comfortable environment in line with other hip coffee shops. However, the history of the space is quite intriguing. Like many of the businesses on Seventh Street, Street Coffee's building used to be a house, complete with a staircase to a second level. Extensive renovation removed the second level and staircase to provide more room and create high, roomy ceilings. The kitchen, naturally, appears to have become Street's kitchen and counter. For someone trying to escape the endless bustle and throngs of people at a place like Jobot, or the monotony of Starbucks, Street offers a great alternative and fills a void on an otherwise coffee-less stretch of Seventh Street. Bonus: The surrounding lot, also owned by Kaibara, eventually will be occupied by a Japanese bento-style lunch place she plans to open called TastyBox.
The Coffee: Street doesn't claim to offer fancy preparations or processes that involve waiting five minutes for a single cup of coffee. This is a cafe catered to a busy crowd traversing the city on one of downtown's biggest thoroughfares. However, that doesn't mean Street doesn't take coffee seriously. The beans are roasted on the property in an adjacent house by general manager Andy Smith, who has roasted for a variety of other local coffee shops including Lux, Jobot, and La Grande Orange. And, it shows. The coffee is full-bodied and fresh with a hint of smokiness and very subtle acidity. At $2.85 for a large, it's not the cheapest coffee, but shouldn't bankrupt coffee drinkers who appreciate quality. And the shop's other drinks are worth trying as well. A large Rosito Bisani espresso maker churns out sharp but balanced espresso-based beverages. A variety of specials provide some excellent twists on more standard coffee drinks, including the spice-heavy but fantastic Southeast, a Vietnamese-inspired latte with condensed milk and cinnamon at $4.95 for a large.
The Food: Street hasn't gone way of the full food menu like many other Valley coffee shops, but the pastries are all made in-house. Freshly baked chocolate chip scones were a perfect accompaniment to the coffee, and a selection of savory buns, inspired by a Cuban coffee shop Kaibara once frequented in Miami, offered fillings like bacon and cheese inside sweet, airy buns. For a place that prioritizes coffee over anything else, the food was a pleasant surprise and could be an good option for a quick breakfast or lunch on the go.
The Verdict: Street offers great, freshly roasted coffee with inventive specials and an array of pastries and quick bites. Plus, it's located conveniently on Seventh Street. It seems to be mostly quiet for the time being, so now's the perfect time to come in before the secret gets out.
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