Arizona Espresso & Coffeehouse News

Espresso ready to go (photo by Cyclone Bill)

I really should keep a more careful eye on the Arizona Coffee blog. It could’ve saved me a trip to Sola yesterday that ended with me looking forlornly into a closed coffeehouse.

Here’s the deal: Sola Coffee Bar (on 5th Avenue in Scottsdale) changed hands and will soon be re-born as a Cartel Coffee Lab, the third of its kind here in the Valley.

In its original incarnation, Sola was an unusual place: Top-flight coffee, to be sure … the surprise was that a local church owned it. But the only outward trace of churchiness was being closed Sundays. Other than that, it’s the usual collection of coffeehouse hipsters and caffeine fiends. The barista crew was extraordinarily friendly. That’s an element that I hope Cartel continues – some people find Cartel’s crews a little too Third Wave Coffee-gung ho.

I predict some good things for the change, though. Sola was already excellent, but I think Cartel owner Jason will push the quality even further.

In other Arizona coffee news …

I’m also waiting impatiently for Black Cat Coffeehouse on 48th Street and Indian School to open. My curiosity is fully engaged – Black Cat will be right near a high school, which could mean it will go the easy route and sling high-sugar coffee-lite icy drinks for the kids rather that the route of a Sola, Cartel or Jobot. But I can’t resist any place with a cat theme, so I’m flying reconnaissance regularly to wait for it to open.

6 thoughts on “Arizona Espresso & Coffeehouse News

  1. Nichole L. Reber

    I happen to have just ordered a plate of pesto pasta and cappuccino at one of my favorite cafes in Lima, Peru, when I opened to this post. Makes me think of my hours and hours spent studying, reading, and writing in cafes in Chicago. What brands of coffee do they serve at Sola/Cartel? In Chicago, even in Florida where I later lived, Intelligentsia was big.

  2. WanderingJustin

    Hey, Nichole! Cartel roasts its own, and supplies many of the better local coffeehouses – some have Cartel roast to their specs, though. I don’t think anyone is using Intelligentsia here (though I had it in Chicago, and it was right on). I don’t see much Lavazza or anything imported … the local roast is the big thing here.

  3. WanderingJustin

    Marlene, I so don’t buy into that sort of exceptionalist thinking. It’s like New Yorkers saying that only good pizza is in New York. You can find great espresso all over the world – but let your tastebuds rather than the stamp on your passport be the judge.

  4. Nichole L. Reber

    Walked into Cartel in Tempe last week. Enjoyed the young art on the walls, thrilled to the warm scent of roasting beans right at the register, ogled one of the baristas. Did not, however, relish the latte.
    Momentarily I’m resting my weary writing bones at XTreme Bean. Better, though not superb latte– + I can smoke from my outside table.
    At least we’re not relegated to Starbucks!

  5. Pingback: Travel Writing - Can You Trust It? - WanderingJustin.com

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