Kahvi

The distance between Finland and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is nearly 6,000 miles, and neither place is particularly close to Phoenix. In terms of culture and climate, the three locations are also about as different as possible. That doesn’t stop them all from coming together in the Monorchid building at the north end of downtown Phoenix. Kahvi, a new coffee house named for the Finnish word for “coffee”, brings together a Nordic concept of cafe culture; a tropical theme associated with the beaches of Tulum, Mexico; and the steady development of Roosevelt Row.

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Vovomeena

For the past decade, the intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell in central Phoenix has become a busy restaurant corner with a steady pace of new arrivals. The only problem, aside from the inevitable complaints about parking, is that so many of the newcomers are outposts of national chains, a trait that makes them somewhat unwelcome in the indie-leaning historic districts. One local dining critic even went so far as to describe the scene as a “fast food dump.” Among the franchised burgers and burritos, there is one local player for breakfast: Vovomeena.

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Stoop Kid

The simple stoop, a set of steps in front of a row house that can act as a place for impromptu scenes of street life, is a rarity in Phoenix. The most obvious reason is that the city has few row houses to occupy a middle ground between apartment buildings and single family homes. In the absence of that type of architecture, the concept of a stoop can still serve as a symbol for city life. At the Churchill, an outdoor food court and bar built with shipping containers in downtown Phoenix, a tenant called “Stoop Kid” is all about bagels and burgers with an urban vibe.

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JL Patisserie

Bread and pastry, long-established in the food traditions of so many cultures and nations, have recently become less desirable for some diners. Whether it’s paleo this, keto that, or gluten-free everything, it sometimes seems like cauliflower and chickpeas rule the day. As wonderful as vegetables and legumes are, they’re not the same as grains, making it a refreshing change to find an unabashedly traditional French pastry shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Phoenix. JL Patisserie is a second location building upon the success of an original store in Scottsdale.

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Cartel Roasting Co.

Observers of coffee culture often speak in terms of waves. The current wave, one that has been crashing over our cities since the ‘90s, is the third one, although there has been talk of an emerging fourth wave. Regardless of what trends dominate worldwide, one local coffee house has been making its own waves for over a decade via steady expansion throughout Arizona and even a few points beyond. Now with ten locations, Tempe-based Cartel Roasting Co. has grown a great deal since its founding in 2007, both in terms of its beverage and food to accompany it.

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Lux Central

The boundaries between coffee houses, bars, and restaurants have never been rigid. Many places that specialize in coffee and espresso offer at least a few sandwiches or breakfast items. A few serve wine and beer. Starbucks tried a few years ago to cross the border into evening alcohol and dinner service only to retreat back to its classic model after a short time. While the massive chain may have failed in its attempt to become a bar and restaurant, one local coffee house, Lux Central, has successfully mixed elements of all three identities for nearly a decade. Continue reading “Lux Central”

Dapper & Stout

With over 100 days with high temperatures over 100 degrees, Phoenix is not the most obvious place for a coffee house with only outdoor seating — unless of course, the establishment is based primarily on a grab-and-go business model. That’s the case with Dapper & Stout, a coffee “house” that is really a counter and patio at the Collier Center in downtown Phoenix. If that setup sounds Spartan, it’s actually somewhat stylish. A long metal table in the shade of the office tower overhead hides just behind the escalators on the development’s northeastern corner. Continue reading “Dapper & Stout”

Churn

The word “churn” doesn’t always have the best connotation. In contemporary usage, it’s  often associated with the rate at which a business loses customers or a workplace sheds employees, with resulting impacts on profitability. There’s a more classic meaning of churn, though, and it’s far more favorable. The classic churn is the device used to agitate milk or cream in creating butter, and a slightly more recent derivative is the process of continuous stirring used to make ice cream. In this spirit, an ice cream shop in Uptown Phoenix proudly bears the name Churn. Continue reading “Churn”

Kream Coffee

Cream in coffee, disliked by some purists but favored by many consumers, is a sort of accent to a robust beverage. A little splash can make a cup full of brew more palatable and cool it to a drinkable temperature. Likewise, a little bit of coffee culture can add a bit of panache and convenience to a retail environment. Grocery and department stores have discovered that with their ubiquitous in-house chain coffee operations. For a small, independent design shop, however, something a little more stylish is in order. That’s the role played by Kream Coffee.
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Serafina

It has been a long time since the Luhrs Building and its sibling the Luhrs Tower were the tallest buildings in Phoenix. Nonetheless, the two art deco structures remain icons of the city’s growth and development nearly a century ago.  They’ve suffered the indignity of facing the loading docks and garage entrances of CityScape’s ugly backside, but recent renovations have allowed the buildings, now known jointly as Luhrs City Center, to realize their potential with a refreshed look and new tenants, among them Serafina, a coffee house and roaster. Continue reading “Serafina”

Songbird Coffee & Tea House

As the show “Portlandia” wraps up its final season, fans will inevitably look back on favorite moments during the program’s eight-year run. One top contender is likely to be the “Put a Bird on it” sketch in which characters Bryce and Lisa decorate every item imaginable with an avian theme. In the Evans Churchill neighborhood of Phoenix, Songbird Coffee & Tea House has put a bird on the concept of the local coffee house. Differentiating itself while living up to its full name, Songbird puts as much emphasis on tea as it does on coffee and espresso drinks. Continue reading “Songbird Coffee & Tea House”

Hidden Track Cafe

Aficionados of rock and pop music have long delighted in discovering hidden tracks, secret songs not listed on an album’s packaging. Ditties like the Beatles’ “Her Majesty” appeared when records were dominant, and hidden tracks persisted with compact discs. Less common in an age of streaming services and song-by-song disaggregated listening, the idea is still relevant enough that there’s a Downtown Phoenix wine and beer store named “Hidden Track Bottle Shop.” Now, that moniker is shared with an adjacent coffee house, Hidden Track Cafe. Continue reading “Hidden Track Cafe”

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