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Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
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Discussions > Regional > US West > Notable...  
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alsterling
Senior Member
alsterling
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 682
Location: Dana Point, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1 (Had Expo)
Grinder: Macap M4 & Gaggia MDF
Vac Pot: Not yet...
Drip: Capresso MT-500 & Melitta...
Roaster: Hottop Digital
Posted Fri Dec 19, 2008, 1:56pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

CindyP Said:

.....I am heading to Orange County California after Christmas - guess I should start looking for possibilities there although I am beginning to think I will just need to get home to my fresh roasted beans, Rocky and Silvia to enjoy my coffee again.  Cindy

Posted December 19, 2008 link

Cindy, been on and off the phone and such all morning, but stopped to read your post. You can email me and I'll be glad to send my contact info when you get into Orange County. (alsterling@earthlink.net).

Best specialty coffee shop in Orange Co. would be Kean's Coffee at 17th and Irvine Blvd. in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach area.

Best, Al

 
Member No.12047 - SCAA
http://www.baristaexchange.com/profile/AlSterling
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CindyP
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Dec 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Brisbane Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Fri Dec 19, 2008, 2:42pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

Psyd Said:

Go back to Luce.  Find Lindsay.  Tell her to make what she would make for 'Chris'.  

Posted December 19, 2008 link

OK Chris,  we will give Luce another try tomorrow morning.  I hope Lindsay works on Saturdays or we will look for Gretchen or Michael.

Al,  We will be in Costa Mesa so Kean's is very close.   I'll drop you an email.  Thanks.
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alsterling
Senior Member
alsterling
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 682
Location: Dana Point, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1 (Had Expo)
Grinder: Macap M4 & Gaggia MDF
Vac Pot: Not yet...
Drip: Capresso MT-500 & Melitta...
Roaster: Hottop Digital
Posted Fri Dec 19, 2008, 2:48pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

CindyP Said:

......Al,  We will be in Costa Mesa so Kean's is very close.   I'll drop you an email.  Thanks.

Posted December 19, 2008 link

Put Coffeegeek or Kean's in subject line. Spam filter will send notice; disregard. I'll pass it through and add to address book.

Best, Al

 
Member No.12047 - SCAA
http://www.baristaexchange.com/profile/AlSterling
Warning: Close cover before striking
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Psyd
Senior Member
Psyd
Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 1,468
Location: MON AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astoria Argenta SAE II,...
Grinder: Rio and Astoria (Mazzer)...
Posted Sat Dec 20, 2008, 12:03pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

CindyP Said:

OK Chris,  we will give Luce another try tomorrow morning.  I hope Lindsay works on Saturdays or we will look for Gretchen or Michael.

Al,  We will be in Costa Mesa so Kean's is very close.  

Posted December 19, 2008 link

Let me know what happened, and who took care of you.  I'll not do their advertising if they're not going to hold up their end of the bargain.

Oh, and I'll double the suggestion for Kean.  I was staying at the Marriott on Fashion Circle and took the bike there nearly every day.  Nice folk, even the noob baristi are well-trained, and the cappuccino was excellent.

 
http://members.cox.net/gearsale/Astoria
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CindyP
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Dec 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Brisbane Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Tue Jan 13, 2009, 6:08pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

Chris and Al,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  My trip got really busy and then the new year took over.  


Psyd Said:

Let me know what happened, and who took care of you.  I'll not do their advertising if they're not going to hold up their end of the bargain.

Posted December 20, 2008 link

We went back to Cafe Luce on a Saturday morning so unfortunately none of your baristas were there.   We did have a chat to Nick who it seemed had been there quite a while and cared about making a good drink.  He pulled a much better cappuccino than any one before so I would definitely come back.  I think that this is the best I found in Tucson during my trip in December.    


Psyd Said:

Oh, and I'll double the suggestion for Kean.  I was staying at the Marriott on Fashion Circle and took the bike there nearly every day.  Nice folk, even the noob baristi are well-trained, and the cappuccino was excellent.

Posted December 20, 2008 link

Now Kean's was a great recommendation.  Although I didn't find a perfect cappuccino or even espresso I did find freshly roasted Panamanian La Esmeralda Especial that I could take home to my new Vac Pot I got for a Christmas present.    I would like to be able to work through their freshly roasted single origins and blends if I lived there but it was home to Australia for me so I went for the top of the line without any regrets.

Back to the the Cappuccino and Espresso drinks.  OK I moved the bar all the way up for Kean's because of their experience (Martin Diedrich) and how they presented themselves.   I really liked the menu that had the "European" drinks separate from the "American" drinks.   I had high hopes for the 6oz cappuccino on the "European" menu.  

Cappuccino:
What a failure for presentation - the cappuccinos came in a ceramic cup that wasn't even filled to the top - one was about a cm short and the other was fuller but still not full.   It was served without an appropriate coffee spoon and without a saucer (guess you don't need a saucer if you don't have a spoon).    This would not be acceptable in any European cafe and certainly not a bar in Italy.    Maybe you are thinking that I have lost the plot in my expectations but they got a 1 out of 5 for presentation.  (the 1 came from the fact that they used a real cup).    The drink was too hot and the milk frothing average.   I admit I was already disappointed because of the failure in presentation.

Espresso:  
OK,  so they couldn't pull off the cappuccino could they at least pull an espresso?   Not in my book.   This time I got a saucer with my appropriately sized espresso cup but if I wanted to add sugar I needed to use the wooden stir stick at the side bar.    The crema was mostly gone by the time I got back to my table.   The drink was only average.

All that said,   if I lived in Costa Mesa I would still be a regular at Kean's buying beans and taking them home to my Rancillio Silvia and Rocky for my attempt at the "European" drink.    I am sure that I would also find favourite baristas at Keans like Chris did at Cafe Luce who knew what I was expecting and could serve the drinks I was looking for.

Overall I was disappointed in the coffee on my US trip this year.   I chalk it up to the difference in what an Australian coffee geek wants from a cappuccino and espresso to what the average customer in American establishments want.  I had the best espresso in 6 weeks  at the Domestic Airport terminal book store in Sydney when I returned to Australia.   Warm espresso cup, appropriate spoon, lasting crema, perfect temperature, tasted fantastic even though they used Lavazza beans that had been roasted who knows when and where.      Thanks for all the tips - let me know when you visit Australia and I'll return the favor of some recommendations.

Cindy
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alsterling
Senior Member
alsterling
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 682
Location: Dana Point, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale S1 (Had Expo)
Grinder: Macap M4 & Gaggia MDF
Vac Pot: Not yet...
Drip: Capresso MT-500 & Melitta...
Roaster: Hottop Digital
Posted Wed Jan 14, 2009, 10:26am
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

CindyP Said:

Chris and Al,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  My trip got really busy and then the new year took over. ......Overall I was disappointed in the coffee on my US trip this year.   I chalk it up to the difference in what an Australian coffee geek wants from a cappuccino and espresso to what the average customer in American establishments want.  I had the best espresso in 6 weeks  at the Domestic Airport terminal book store in Sydney when I returned to Australia.   Warm espresso cup, appropriate spoon, lasting crema, perfect temperature, tasted fantastic even though they used Lavazza beans that had been roasted who knows when and where.      Thanks for all the tips - let me know when you visit Australia and I'll return the favor of some recommendations.  Cindy

Posted January 13, 2009 link

Cindy, I've said this many times, and prefer that it simply be taken as a business observation, not as a judgemental comment. During my first couple years in specialty coffee, I searched for that "great cafe" every time I went out of town on business. It was fun. A couple years and many cafes later, I accept the reality that the upper end of specialty coffee in the US, and maybe worldwide, comprises far less than 1% of the total population of retailers.

In my opinion, and if we're talking about the making of espresso drinks only, it is a very involved process with many variables, and by itself doesn't provide enough revenue to support itself at retail. Some retailers would call it a "Loss-Leader." It gets you in, and hopefully breaks even. Therefore, most coffee retailers don't have the interest in focusing on their specialty coffee area. It's a necessary element in the total retail mix. That's my opinion. So, in some rare cases, you find someone who's got an understanding of how to turn a dollar in coffee sales, and they know how to hold down the overhead and crank up the volume....and make a profit. But given all of this........I'd say that searching for great specialty coffee shops here in the US is like playing "Where's Waldo." I think the search is more fun than the angst of watching your espresso order go wrong.

Best, Al

 
Member No.12047 - SCAA
http://www.baristaexchange.com/profile/AlSterling
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Dizzydog
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Posts: 27
Location: Arizona
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jan 15, 2009, 2:14am
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

Anyone tried Zephyr in Gilbert?

I was going to swing by there and give it a go tomorrow. Its only about 4 miles from my area (Higley and Pecos)
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CindyP
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Dec 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Brisbane Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Thu Jan 15, 2009, 4:25pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

alsterling Said:

But given all of this........I'd say that searching for great specialty coffee shops here in the US is like playing "Where's Waldo." I think the search is more fun than the angst of watching your espresso order go wrong.

Posted January 14, 2009 link

Great point Al.   I did enjoy my search.  Luckily I had my partner with me who also appreciates a good espresso drink.  I agree that the finding, trying, and endless discussions of whys, hows, commitment, training, customer expectations etc did provide a fun subplot to our visit.

Cindy
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Psyd
Senior Member
Psyd
Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 1,468
Location: MON AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astoria Argenta SAE II,...
Grinder: Rio and Astoria (Mazzer)...
Posted Fri May 8, 2009, 12:30pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

So, for those of you still paying attention, this is what I've come up with.  These are based on the coffee, more specifically the espresso and not pastry, ambience, location, or any other metric. These are my notables*, in the order in which I remember them for this list:

In the Tucson area;
Caffe Luce, Park, north of University Blvd
Cafe VanGo, Campbell and Grant (Bookman's parking lot)
Epic Cafe, University and Fourth Ave
Safehouse, Speedway, east of Alvernon
Cafe Le Buzz, Catalina Highway and Tanque Verde

In the Phoenix area
Cartel Coffee Labs, University and Ash (one light west of Mill Ave)
Ground Control, Goodyear, W Indian School at N Oleande. (Litchfield Bypass)

Elsewhere:
Vida e Caffe, Cedar, 2 &1/2 blks E of US 60 (Willow St.)

*I have only included places at which I have tried the product. Feel free to make suggestions.  All I need is an excuse to go get a cuppa at some shop! ; >

 
http://members.cox.net/gearsale/Astoria
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,099
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Fri May 8, 2009, 9:29pm
Subject: Re: Notable Espresso/Coffee Houses in Phoenix/Tucson areas
 

http://www.villagecoffee.com/    in Scottsdale  at Hayden and Via De Ventura.

Being an out of towner I've only been here about 3 times in the last 2 years, but every time I have been treated to some fine espresso and take home some excellent roasted beans.  Some local's will have to verify consistency but I was really impressed with the quality of their roasting.
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