Updated April 17, 2017: The coffee house formerly known as Mornin’ Moonshine has been sold and renamed “Hidden Track Cafe.”
111 West Monroe is a modest mid-century office building at the corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street in Downtown Phoenix. In past decades, it could have been easily overlooked, but the mid-rise tower has recently become a bit of a hipster hotspot with an eclectic array of new tenants. In addition to the office tenants upstairs, the new arrivals at ground level include a store catering to music aficionados who appreciate vinyl and vacuum tubes, a boutique wine shop full of bottles from lesser known vintners, and, unsurprisingly, a coffee house.
Mornin’ Moonshine, the caffeine purveyor on the ground floor of 111, occupies a small space with just one table and a little counter facing the street. Far more seating is found in a shaded patio that faces Monroe Street just a block south of the Central / Van Buren (westbound) and First Avenue / Van Buren (eastbound) light rail stations, the two platforms on opposite sides of the large transit center known as Central Station. Bike racks are built into parking meters along Monroe, as well as on nearby blocks of Adams and First Avenue.
Mornin’ Moonshine serves the usual array of espresso drinks, drip coffee, and tea, but its namesake beverage is cold-brewed coffee. The combination of high caffeine content and low acidity in cold brew has made the drink a staple at many local coffee houses. What makes Mornin’ Moonshine unique, however, is the use of an overnight process that allows the coffee to be infused with nuances of flavor. An array of vertical assemblies in the shop allow several “mashes,” or varieties, of the shop’s signature product to be brewed and offered each day.
To be clear, these are not strong, sweet flavors along the lines of the flavored syrups found in many coffee shops. Instead, the flavors are subtle notes of complementary tastes such as green tea and mint or star anise and cardamon. While those two combinations are among the regular menu offerings, there are also specials such as a PB&J cold crew with light nutty and fruity essences. The effect of each mash is apparent only when the coffee is not heavily diluted with with milk or sugar. Of course, there’s an unflavored cold brew and even a decaffeinated version.
Within the limited space of Mornin’ Moonshine’s shop, there’s no kitchen per se, so sustenance to accompany the cold brew is obtained from outside providers. The pastry comes from the nearby Phoenix Public Market Cafe, which has recently branched out into supplying baked goods for a variety of establishments. Offerings from the Market Cafe can change but usually include a variety of muffins; homages to classic Pop-Tarts; soft, chewy pretzels; and slices of banana bread. Doughnuts and croissants come from Rainbow Donuts, another local purveyor.
Mornin’ Moonshine is open from 7 AM until 3 PM and only on weekdays. If those hours don’t seem as hip and urban as the vibe at 111 West Monroe, it’s important to remember that Mornin’ Moonshine’s featured drink is so potent that few customers would want to consume it as evening approaches. As more apartments are built Downtown, eventual weekend hours might become worthwhile. Until that happens, Mornin’ Moonshine is a welcome addition to the Downtown Phoenix core and an important part of a new look and feel for a middle-aged office building.
111 W. Monroe St., Phoenix AZ 85003
Van Buren / Central (westbound) and Van Buren / 1st Avenue (eastbound) stations