Five Favorite Coffee Houses in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Top Lists

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I remember the very first coffee house in Phoenix.

OK, maybe it wasn't the first. I'm sure it wasn't the first. But it was my first. It was 1991(ish) and I'd just moved home to the Valley -- and no one around here was into coffee. Yet. It would be years before Starbucks arrived, but one day I noticed something unusual at the Town and Country shopping center at 24th Street and Camelback. A real coffee house.

It was called Dos Estrellas -- run by a mother and daughter (two stars, get it?) -- and it rocked. Not only did Dos Estrellas sell good espresso drinks and fresh-made muffins and pastries, there was a wonderful assortment of Mexican imports for sale. I pretty much lived there. (This was so long ago you actually brought books to a coffee house, instead of laptops and Kindles.)

Later, Dos Estrellas left the coffee business and abandoned T&C for that cute little strip mall on the southeast corner of 15th Avenue and Thomas, across from Phoenix College. (It's still there, in the form of a boutique called The Purple Lizard, with a nice new owner.) By then the local coffee business was beginning to thrive, and today there are too many coffee houses in metro Phoenix to name.

So we'll just give you five favorites. Be sure to tell us yours.

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Jobot Coffee
​1. Jobot. This relative newbie to the Phoenix coffee scene is a fast friend -- with a cozy bar, outdoor seating, tasty toddies and to-die-for crepes. Friend them on Facebook; the description of Jobot's daily special is the hottest food porn in town.

(Don't believe us? Here's yesterday's FB update: ...Lemon buttermilk pancakes /w fresh blueberries and vanilla bean cream. OR. Chocolate belgium waffles w/ strawberries and vanilla bean cream. Kinda like Neapolitan ice cream.)

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Cartel Tempe
​2. Cartel Coffee Lab, Tempe. The newer Phoenix location is cool and all, but we're partial to Cartel's first home, just west of the Scary Circle K, behind Wet Paint in downtown Tempe. We've got a weakness for the hand-lettered signs and super-strong drinks. And we mean super-strong. Don't say we didn't warn you about the four-shot latte. A recent, welcome addition: baked goods.

3. Orange Table, Scottsdale. Sadly, this south Scottsdale fave has cut back on its hours, so you won't find us here at night any more. But a morning cup of tea (or the chai with a shot of espresso!) and the best artsy people watching in town (the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's a couple doors down) make this place a must. The full menu's a draw, too.

4. LUX Coffee Bar. Adjacent to Chris Bianco's Pane Bianco (and about to move a door down to make way for more Pane), LUX is home away from home for much of Phoenix's creative class. Want to catch up with someone? Find them here, hunched over a light table or slouching on a leather couch. The pastry chef is a wonder and we're madly in love with whomever illustrates the LUX labels and postcards.

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The counter at Lola Coffee

5. Lola Coffee on Roosevelt. Squint and you're in another city -- an urban stronghold, all funky metal and glass with a chandelier thrown in, and lots of hustle and bustle. Not to mention a rotating scone collection (we do recommend the chocolate cinnamon over the potato radish).

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16 comments
GASSERGUY
GASSERGUY

 Dos Estrellas was the BEST, and never to be repeated, coffee house in Phoenix. I moved from La Jolla to PHX right after it opened.  The moment I walked in, I fell in love with Andrea.  One of those weird happenings of life.  I created 'coffee pot' chandeliers for she and her mother, as well as unique bird houses.  The best thing that came from my love of her was my first novel, CAFE DENIAL.  Hugs and kisses to Andrea, wherever she is today.  Ernest

Cawpheeedguc8ter
Cawpheeedguc8ter

Orange Table???????????????? Really?????????? Your the guy that brings box wine to the party and claims its good. When you actually know and understand coffee write an article on it. Till that time......Lux, Lola, Lux, Lola, Lux, Lola.....gets sooooooooooooooooo OLD! They both serve sub par coffee....Jobot buys Cartel and Orange table...Where the hell is that place??? The only thing you have right here is Cartel....and guess what......its not METRO PHOENIX! 

Meg
Meg

Seriously. Royal at the Market/Biltmore is not included? My beverage has been consistent time and time again. In addition, the vibe is awesome. Their baristas are beyond chill. I am not impressed with Lux, especially after their transition to include food/alcohol. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a coffee snob in that sense, but every time I go I am nearly ran over by others... cannot find parking... and their espresso tastes burnt. I agree with Matthew in regards to Giant, especially since the addition of being able to use plastic as an option. Jobot will become a part of my routine when more inside seating/workspace is added (haven't been in awhile).

Locavore
Locavore

Village Coffee...you have to try it. Outrageously good coffee. I barely have to add sugar. I always make it a point to grab an iced coffee and a coffee-rubbed spare rib sandwich on Thursdays (that's the only day you can get it).http://www.villagecoffee.com/

almagkelly
almagkelly

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Miki Miki
Miki Miki

lux is the worst place on this list.the "barristas" are douche bag hipsters who think they're above everyone else,and it shows in their lack of professionalism.and the coffee is sub-par at best.really,why would anyone even consider them for this list.Ive been a barrista for over 13 years,and these people just don't have a clue.Jobot,on the other hand,is wonderful.nice,chill atmosphere,very personable staff and owner,and the espresso is quite delightful.and,The Willow House WILL RETURN...

hellomikey
hellomikey

the lux artist's name is sammy lambert. awesome stuff.

Genevieve
Genevieve

I really surprised either of Royal Coffee's locations didn't make the list. They're my favorite in the city.

Quickrunner2011
Quickrunner2011

Echo Coffee is also a great place to check out, it's right on the edge where east PHX meets South Scottsdale and Old Town, it's on 68th St and Thomas Road, way laid back and cool atmosphere paired with great coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soups, etc. Check out www.echocoffee.com

Matthew Petro
Matthew Petro

I'd pick Giant Coffee over Lola. Sure the Roosevelt location feels like a cool coffeehouse, but the coffee is subpar. Giant has some of the best coffee in town, a great vibe and the huge glass wall/window that's open when the weather is nice.

Props for including Jobot. They're new, but definitely rocking the coffee and food.

rachelleahpickup
rachelleahpickup

@GASSERGUY


I agree with you, more than I can even say!


DOS ESTRELLAS was a one-of-a-kind place... in a  moment in time and it has never been matched since. I was a barista there for a good 5 years in the mid 90's.  I sometimes wonder what happened to all the fantastic regulars I genuinely grew to love. Like, I *still* care about them!  So many stories there... Between the staff, the regulars, hell, even the owners (ammi'right?) But there was nothing like it. I'm honored to have been a real part of it. It just had a magical environment. That "it" factor. In an approachable way. Geez, can you tell I was in love with the place?


I was.


 I lived a lot of life in that place. A lot of life.


-Rachel Brown (Pickup)

Matthew Petro
Matthew Petro

Jobot has added indoor seating on the side of the house which doesn't have the espresso bar, but it's still not a "sit inside and work" coffeehouse. Jobot is very much oriented towards outdoor seating and social interaction.

The coffee at Lux is definitely not at the caliber of other places like Giant and Cartel, but what Jeff Fischer has done with the vibe of the new place is stellar, in my opinion. I dig great coffee, but the full measure of a coffeehouse extends far beyond the espresso.

Connor
Connor

I agree with all your statements regarding Jobot, but I've honestly only met the nicest people at Lux. Just because they aren't as "downtowny" as the people at Jobot, doesn't mean they should be disregarded completely. Many of my friends are quite fond of their coffee as well. It's no Cartel, but it's still one of the best.What's this about the Willow House?

Mike Todd
Mike Todd

Yeah. I don't understand people who make these accusations against the Lux staff. I've never gotten service at Lux that I would consider to be even the slightest bit unprofessional, supercilious, or "douche bag"-y (whatever that means).

Jeff Fischer has set a tone at Lux emphasizing community and excellent service, and that tone has resonated through every experience I've had there.

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