Restaurant names follow all sorts of trends, and one of the current ones is the use of a conjunction to link two concepts — sometimes with the full word “and,” often with an ampersand, and increasingly with a plus sign. Places with names fitting this format have opened all over in recent years. Now, a coffeehouse on Roosevelt Row takes the trend a few steps beyond with not one, but two plus signs, not to mention irregular capitalization. The shop is called “be Coffee + Food + Stuff,” but for the sake of simplicity, it’s most often referred to as just “be Coffee.”
Be Coffee is located inside Monorchid, a combination of art gallery, event venue, coworking space, and retail. While some smaller galleries in the area have recently closed, Monorchid seems more likely to stay around due to its myriad uses. The building is located two-and-a-half blocks east of the Roosevelt / Central light rail station. A shaded bike rack is found next door at iLuminate (more creative capitalization here), one of many new apartment buildings bringing more residents to the neighborhood and providing a steady customer base for businesses like be Coffee.
Inside the shop, there’s a long community table near the counter and a sofa and coffee table in a lounge area by the window. The space flows openly into rest of Monorchid. On one side, there’s a portal into the Dressing Room, the full service restaurant operated by the same group as be Coffee. On the other side is the Monorchid gallery space with its changing exhibits. Several small tables placed along a hallway are a semi-secluded option. The only outdoor seating is a little table placed under an umbrella on the recently improved Roosevelt sidewalk.
After the copula “be,” “coffee” is the first word in the shop’s name. It’s therefore unsurprising to see a chalkboard next to the counter listing all the standard espresso drinks, as well as a few magnetic containers displaying various loose leaf teas. Most every coffeehouse has a few signature drinks, and be Coffee has two, or maybe two-and-a-half, cold concoctions to distinguish itself. One is a shot of espresso combined with Boylan’s root beer. The other is a spicy cold brew, as nuanced as it is fiery, with an option to add some white chocolate to tame the heat just a bit.
Aside from a cup of coffee or tea, the second most important item at any coffeehouse is usually pastry. The selection at be Coffee is not wide, but it is deep. In other words, the number of sweets can be counted on one hand, but the quality is excellent. Three varieties of enormous cookies are available: snickerdoodles, chocolate chip with sea salt, and peanut butter with M&M’s. From Karl’s Bakery in Sunnyslope, there are apple fritters big enough to feed a small family. For something less sweet, the warm pretzel with paired with spicy honey mustard is a fulfilling choice.
These snacks and desserts are only part of the food between the plus signs in be Coffee’s name. There are other choices suitable for a full breakfast such as egg sandwiches on English muffins and cold oats, a variant of muesli with coconut and almonds. “Artisinal toast” was met with some skepticism in San Francisco, but be Coffee’s is hard not to like. The shop’s signature preparation comes with sliced bananas and Nutella drizzled in a lattice pattern. Seasonal variations include combinations like tart cherry and mascarpone or strawberry-rhubarb and ricotta.
While these morning foods are available all day, there are also sandwiches and salads with more lunch appeal. Tanya’s Grilled Cheese has a bit of tang from Munster, smoothness from American, and sharpness from parmesan, all augmented with tomato and arugula. Another sandwich, The Sixth Grader, is brilliant. Some middle schoolers (or at least this former middle schooler) put potato chips inside their turkey sandwiches to add crunch. This creation makes the practice official, resulting in a nostalgic treat with a red wine vinaigrette adding a grown-up touch.
While be Coffee is thought of primarily as a coffee shop, it is clearly trying to be (sorry) something more — and succeeding. Just as the Monorchid building can move seamlessly from showcasing a local artist’s work to hosting a wedding or even a photo shoot featuring a sultry model and a luxury car, be Coffee can be a place for breakfast, lunch, or a snack in between. Yes, the plus signs in the name might seem a bit trendy, but arithmetic is important. Do the math and be Coffee seems like a solution to the problem of finding a good coffee house on Roosevelt Row.
214 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix AZ 85004
Roosevelt / Central Station