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Tres Leches Café in Phoenix is Like the Mexican Starbucks of Your Dreams

Imagine a coffee universe where your favorite Mexican and Latin American sweet treats — we're talking churros, dulce de leche, and tres leches cake — have been ingeniously blended into your morning latte. 

That's the concept behind Tres Leches Café, a central Phoenix coffee bar with a menu of specialty lattes inspired by traditional Mexican flavors. 

The small coffee bar shares a space with Scott's Generations, the NYC-style deli located inside the Cinema Park Village Shopping Center near Seventh Street and Missouri in central Phoenix.

Husband-and-wife team ET Rivera and Brianna Aguilera-Rivera own the coffee bar, which has been operating out of the roomy, naturally lighted café space adjacent to the deli since last summer. 

Rivera says the idea behind the coffee bar is to incorporate popular Mexican desserts into high-quality coffee drinks. To that end, the couple source their roasted beans from Cortez Coffee Company in Tempe. They also make their own signature tres leches cream, which is used in every latte (you can also request milk substitutes like coconut, soy, almond, or skim). 

Currently, the menu offers 10 specialty lattes, including the Café Mexicano, a deeply flavored latte made with classic Abuela brand chocolate Mexicano, which is infused pleasingly with cinnamon. The drink also offers a nice kick from its espresso base. 

There's also the Café Churro, which delivers the tell-tale cinnamon and sugar scent of the deep-fried pastry, along with much of the flavor. Other options include an horchata-flavored latte, a Tres Leches Cupcake latte, and for aficionados of the deep, dark, slightly bitter stuff, the Tres Aztecas Café.

All drinks are available hot, cold, or iced. There's also a full menu of licuados, a sort of Mexican version of fruit smoothies, as well as Italian sodas. 

And if you've been searching for a good Mexican hot chocolate drink around town, Tres Leches Café makes their own signature chocolate blend. It's available hot or on the rocks, so you don't necessarily have to wait for cooler weather to enjoy it. 

All lattes are currently priced at $4, and licuados are currently $3.

The cafe, which offers free WiFi, has plenty of space for working or just hanging out. Sure, there's an actual Starbucks situated in roughly the same vicinity as this mom-and-pop operation, but how can you pass up the siren call (and scent) of Tres Leches Café and its creative menu of creamy, rich, and spice-inflected coffee drinks? 

For more information, visit the Tres Leches Café Facebook
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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.