Olivia Wingert of Souvia on How to Brew Better Tea

Categories: Grind


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Zaida Dedolph
A perfectly extracted cup of Souvia tea.

Souvia Tea isn't the kind of place that commands attention, but when you visit you might not want to leave. Located in a strip mall in north Phoenix, the shop is quiet, clean, and unassuming. Its soft, sweet aromas, floor-to-ceiling tea cannisters, and myriad steeping devices kind of make walking into the shop feel like walking into a fairy tale cottage.

Owner Olivia Wingert has cultivated this experience. After she left her hometown near Frankfurt, Germany, Wingert felt overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle and coffee-loving climate of the United States. She wanted to emulate the experience of village living and build a community centered around tea. As Souvia enters its tenth year as a cafe and wholesale operation, it's clear that she has succeeded.


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So You Went to Bikini Beans in Phoenix: Now What?

Categories: Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
This "Tropakini" tastes like sadness.

So, you made the choice to pick up a cup of coffee at Bikini Beans. No big deal, right? It's just a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee made just for you, stud, by a teenaged girl in a little bitty bikini.

Here's a brief guide to coping with the feelings of self-loathing and existential angst that will immediately follow your visit, provided you aren't a total dirtbag.

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Phoenix Baristas Throw Down -- with Coffee

Categories: Grind


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Zaida Dedolph
The judges at the November Thursday Night Throwdown were calibrated before the competition to ensure a fair match.

The term "Thursday Night Throwdown" means something special. No, it's not some sort of MMA Fight - the events (usually) result in very little physical violence. A TNT, as we coffee folk are wont to call it, is an ultra-nerdy latte art competition and community-building exercise for area baristas. And guess what! Altitude Coffee Lab hosted one on Thursday, Nov. 6.


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Trailhead Bike Cafe Provides Great Service, Okay Coffee, and Badass Bicycles

Categories: Grind


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Zaida Dedolph
Bicycles and coffee culture go hand in hand at Trailhead Bike Cafe.

Bikes and coffee go together like... well, two really esoteric, hyper-nuanced things that probably shouldn't actually go together but somehow totally do. Maybe it's about craftsmanship. Maybe it's about taking time to enjoy the simple things. Maybe it's about wanting your espresso to be as smooth as your freshly shaved cyclist's legs. Whatever it is, coffee and bikes just get each other.


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"Fair" Versus "Direct" Trade -- What Does It All Mean?

Categories: Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Cartel Coffee is one of several local companies that prefer to work directly with coffee farmers.

When it comes to buying coffee most people are completely clueless. Shade Grown? Rainforest Alliance certified? Bird Friendly? Organic? There's no reason to be afraid of these labels, but there are some pretty understandable reasons to be skeptical of them.

For many people, there is a certain amount of mysticism regarding where that Coffee stuff actually comes from and how it gets here. Coffee is not a local crop. It won't ever be a local crop. Coffee plants require a very specific set of needs in order to grow and produce coffee cherries, and a whole other set of criteria in order to produce good coffee beans. But beyond quality, there's another issue that needs to be discussed, which is that coffee producing regions tend to be some of the most impoverished places in the world. This week we'll be debunking the issue of Sourcing, or in simple terms, where coffees come from and how the people who grow, harvest, and produce them are compensated.

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Phoenix Barista Harlin Glovacki Qualifies for US Barista Championship

Categories: Grind

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Jules Tompkins
Harlin Glovacki placed fifth in this year's Southwest Regional Barista Competition.

Harlin Glovacki of Nom de Plume Coffee Roasters made Phoenix coffee afficionados proud last week by taking fifth place in the Southwest Division of the Big Western Regional Barista Competition. Achieving a top-six placement qualifies him to compete at the national level in February's United States Barista Championship in Long Beach. This is particularly impressive considering that it was Harlin's first time competing in the regional competition.


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Altitude Coffee Lab Brings Humility and Comfort to the Scottsdale Scene

Categories: Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Altitude Coffee Lab's cozy bar.

Altitude Coffee Lab recently celebrated its one-year anniversary in the best possible way: by winning a New Times Best of Phoenix award.


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Meet Phoenix's 2014 Barista Competitors

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Perry Czopp
Chow Bella's own Heather Hoch watches barista Michelle Johnson pour a cappuccino at a recent practice runthrough.

Each year, thousands of coffee professionals around the world congregate to crown a new Barista Champion. This year three fantastic individuals from Phoenix will be traveling to Rancho Mirage, California for a chance to be crowned the Southwest's Best Barista. This event feeds into the United States Barista Competition, which in turn feeds into the World Barista Championship.

Take a moment to laugh at the notion of competitive coffee making; I know you're thinking about it. Now regroup, and focus on what I'm about to tell you: the Specialty Coffee industry takes this very seriously. Winning the World Barista Championship (or even just the United States competition) means fortune and glory; in addition to a hefty cash prize, winners are provided with expensive equipment, travel opportunities, and are essentially guaranteed lucrative employment in some aspect of the coffee industry for the rest of their lives.

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5 Reasons to Get Excited About the Phoenix Coffee Scene That Have Nothing to Do with Pumpkin Spice

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Crepe Bar's new fall signature coffee drink features local heritage grains and local dates.

In the mushy-yet-magical coulee that is my imagination, Pumpkin Spice exists as a rejected sixth Spice Girl. Yoga-pantsed, Ugg-booted, and sexy-baby-voiced, poor P.S. just literally can't even function as a flavor.

Pumpkins are a thing. Pumpkin Pie Spice is a thing. But "Pumpkin Spice" is a myth that we seem to have collectively accepted as fact. What defines this imaginary Spice of Pumpkin that has infiltrated my Facebook feed? Aside from being a sensationalized marketing scheme for something that is realistically an amalgamation of artificial flavors, colors, and additives, what actually is it? And more importantly, why do we continue to care about it when there are so many other very real things going on in the world (and in Phoenix!)

I am willing to accept the PSL as a bizarre cultural totem and harbinger of fall festivities, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Here is a list of five things that I do like, that are happening soon, and that support our great local food and coffee folk.

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Lo-Fi Coffee Brings Electricity-Free "Eco-Bar" to Downtown Mesa Event Scene

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind


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Zaida Dedolph
Sam Clark smiles behind the bar at Lo-Fi Coffee.

I never thought I'd say this, but -- there's something kinda cool happening in Mesa.

Seemingly ceaseless light rail construction has provided Mesa shop owners with a creative challenge: How do small businesses stay competitive in an area dominated by road closures, jackhammering, and snorting digging machines?


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