No big city should be allowed to exist if it doesn’t have a coffee shop that’s open late. There are always the 24 restaurants and donut shops that can provide a safe haven for those who like to peek into the world when no one else is looking, but a true coffee house is something more. It’s not only an alternative to the bar scene, but it’s part of a tradition that’s all over Europe and Latin America, where intellectuals and artists can go to discuss their theories and obsessions.
Increasingly, the coffee house is also a friendly neighborhood hangout, where like-minded people can gather, people can hold business meetings, and those who work on laptops can come to be around other people, even if they are just focusing on their work. They’re also a nice haven for out of town guests, looking to soak in the local charm while enjoying a coffee and a pastry in the middle of their sight-seeing. For all the luxury hotels Arizona ‘s prided itself in for all these years, the coffee house has just started making waves.
In the 80s, there were a few places that people could go, like the now-defunct Willow House, but these were few and far-between. The anarchist-collectives running them weren’t always organized, either, logically, and it was hit and miss whether they’d be open. But now there are plenty to choose from, and the offerings are really top notch.
Fair Trade Cafe is a great example of a coffee house embedded in the community. They do offer only fair trade, hence the name, and it’s roasted by a group in Tucson. The clientele enjoys the friendly atmosphere, and it’s a nice place to get some work done, as well as find out what’s happening in the local community. Lola’s has two locations in downtown Phoenix, and both are lovely spaces with equal parts funk and ambience. The baristas pick the music, so spending time here is also an education in musical tastes. Lux , like Lola’s, roasts their own, and they use a machine that roasts only 7 pounds at a time. The result is a splendid cup, and the baked goods are out of this world. Lots of great choices.