Can you tell I’m working on my headlines?

The new Fair Trade Cafe at Civic Space Park has been open for about a month now and I’ve had the opportunity to visit and try to coffee and see the shop.

The only thing going for Fair Trade Cafe is that it is close to the downtown ASU campus — really close. Literally across the street. Oh, and it is inside the Civic Space Park. Other than those two things the new Fair Trade Cafe is as boring as a parking garage. The walls are painted mostly white or left unpainted like the concrete floor. There are very few decorations or pictures to add color to the space which is unfortunate. Maybe they’ll add those later?

Fair Trade Cafe
Fair Trade Cafe is situated at the base of a historic building and has a really large patio.

Fair Trade Cafe
This is my cappuccino which was incredibly hot and tasteless.

Fair Trade Cafe
The Civic Space Park has a distinctive artwork hanging in the sky above the park. You can’t miss it!

Fair Trade Cafe
Large outdoor patio.

Fair Trade Cafe
Fair Trade Cafe counter.

Fair Trade Cafe
Conference table for laptop warriors. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect to the Wi-Fi.

Fair Trade Cafe
Main view of the interior of the shop.

Fair Trade Cafe
424 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: (602) 354-8150
Twitter: @fairtradecafeaz

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Gonz

    I went to Fair Trade’s new place yesterday morning and though i just had an ice-t, I felt that it was very welcoming and though maybe not exciting, it was a sunday morning and very relaxing. most definitally a good place to study.

  2. Gonz

    I went to Fair Trade’s new place yesterday morning and though i just had an ice-t, I felt that it was very welcoming and though maybe not exciting, it was a sunday morning and very relaxing. most definitally a good place to study.

  3. Tom Maegdlin

    That was Ari Gold from Entourage type of headline. You are going to get your own food network show I can see it. Tingom:With Teeth! I have the rights to that btw. Don’t go closing the deal without me.

  4. I should mention that the 3 people I was with the day I visited all thought there coffee was too-hot.

  5. Tom Maegdlin

    My baristas hate how much I harp about that. Heat, be it the heat from the group or the steam wand, can kill a good drink. Synesso designed their stem wands to cure this problem. They weld another steel tube over the actually wand mechanism to act as a heat buffer. Often times you will boil your milk before you get it to temperature. Check out the jet steam espresso machines btw, I think they are the future. LaMa parts built in Indiana. Half the price of a new LaMa. Did I mention they moved the boiler underneath?!!!

  6. IIRC, the Synesso wand is double tube so that it stops burning the danged baristi, not the milk. I rarely bury more’n the tip anyways, so…
    Teach your baristi to hold the pitcher by the bottom with one hand, and the handle with the other. If they end up with second degree burns on their hands, they’re frothing too long.
    Too hot to hold, too hot to pour into an espresso, ’cause it’s too hot to drink.
    Too-hot drinks ruin your tastes, not only for the drink at hand, but for a day, maybe longer.

    Oh, and price a JetSteam against the six group Synesso Hydra, and let me know which you’d spend the money on! It’s a neat idea, but one that still needs a bit of work, and hasn’t quite seen the end of the design stage quite yet.
    Plus, can ya imagine if you broke it?

  7. Yikes. We are definitely working on the ambiance. Any suggestions? The blank slate is almost too overwhelming. Since we dont have as many walls as in the other location, one suggestion is art from local sculptors.

    And I will look into the hot milk. There is no reason we shouldnt be making every drink perfectly.

    Maybe with some good feedback from you all and a chance to make those changes, you will give us a second chance… 🙂

  8. Just judging from the pictures a little paint would help. Browns, deep greens or some other coffi-ish color. Just on a wall or too and in some sort of design..a cool stencil, stripes etc. Of on the face of the counter. Good luck!

  9. Tom Maegdlin

    Yo Psyd,

    I never thought about the whole human burnage factor. That double wall thing is something the engineer from Synesso pushed really hard on when I was thinking Synesso for the new store. He was really into the whole not scorching the milk while the hot metal was making contact inside the pitcher. The appeal of the Jet Steam for me was the fact that they off the shelf LaMa parts. God forbid it did break, I could get parts overnight. Everything is super accesible on those too.

    My latest obsession is with Slayer though. Being able to bump up your pressure manually with an accurate reading? Redic. Luis Till, another Phoenician at coffee fest reported to me that everything he had from the machine tasted like honey. Four Barrel in San Fran just put theirs in an apparently its out of this world. Some ideas for those of you opening shops.

  10. Here locally I have the luxury of comparing a GB-5 to the Synesso, same beans, same ‘vintage’. The Synesso gets the edge, but only just.
    OTOH, LM has something in the works that’ll blow you away, too. Supposedly a three group three pump fully (zero to fifteen Bar) pressure profile-able, and a memory based programmable profile menu as well.
    Espresso is starting to get a bit whacky…

    Sure, the double wall steam-wand won’t scorch the milk, but if yo have the same milk being foamed properly on a single wall, I’d bet that you couldn’t taste the difference. OTOH, just .010 of a second touching anywhere but the clips or insulated rubber dingies and any barista in your shop will be able to tell the difference between the single wall and the double wall. And for the rest of their shift, too. Trust me, those things are not a bad thing, and the Synesso was never a bad buy…

  11. KnowsBeans

    Slight oversight with all the machine talk – the beans. No matter what equipment you use your final product suffers if you don’t use fresh, high quality beans. I have been in Press and see the bags of “Italian” beans. Don’t think you can hype yourself up all the time when you don’t search out the best product for the most important part of the drink.
    Fair Trade uses a reputable, local roaster. They care enough to source good beans. That says a lot.

  12. <>

    Chris’s review and pictures say a lot too. So does the reply from Michelle, indicating that they are inclined to take the critisism constructively. Perhaps their local roaster could better serve them with training on things like steaming milk? An obsessent like Psyd could no doubt do wonders to help in such matters, as he’s already provided great insite with his posts to this blog.

    I visited Press’s informal barista jam last weekend and was more than impressed with the set up and skill of their baristi. It’s also my understanding they’re roasting their own now too, so yeah, it’s as local and fresh as it gets. Call them Italian beans, or maybe Arizona beans would be better 🙂 ? (I suspect Italian beans is because of the upscale location, which is just good marketing).

    The Slayer discussion is intriguing. Tom, you should join the forum one of these days. We need guys like you there.

  13. I think one of the reasons people don’t ask to join the forum is because they take a look at it and assume it’s inactive. But the real truth is that most of the forum is hidden.

    There are multiple layers to the forum, and even a few top secret levels that only a few people have access to. Those people know who they are.

    Here’s a list of the main categories:

    Latte Art
    General Discussion
    Introduce Yourself
    Coffee Shops
    Coffee Roasters
    Machines, Grinders & Equipment
    Coffee Talk For Consumers of Coffee

    The reason the forum is hidden is to restrict membership to real people, reduce spam, and also
    to keep trolls out.

    If you’d like to be on the forum, just email me through the contact page of Arizona Coffee.

  14. @Psyd- I don’t think a Synesso would never be a bad purchase and I’m very curious to see how LaMa’s new pressure profiling machine comes out. It sounds interesting with all the bells and whistles. Synesso’s Hydra pressure profiles as well…
    My experience with Slayer was bar none the best of my visit at Coffee Fest in Seattle. I brought a locally roasted coffee I was familiar with and it hasn’t tasted the same since. At Coffee Fest I had shots of Stumptown’s Hair Bender pulled on a Synesso Cyncra by Dave Schomer himself-fantastic! but the shots off the Slayer were incredible, undeniable.
    This is similar to my experience @Slayer:

  15. Some baristas wouldn’t burn a drink if you held a gun to their head.

    There was a software company that was deadline driven but its management made pretenses of producing quality, so the engineers started using the slogan, paraphrased, “The highest quality software we can produce!… by Aug 5th.” Maybe the real question isn’t how the baristas feel about making good drinks (they’re obviously for it) but how they feel about long lines. If they start rushing when the lines are long, they’re probably going to keep rushing all day, even when only three people walk in. Do they feel like they have the time and support from management to make the drinks right?

    As for atmosphere, that’s a tough one. Phoenix has precious few coffee shops set up in old houses. In Minnesota, one my favorite places was in a big old Victorian house that had antique lamps and wallpaper and unusual glassware. It felt like you could sink into the furniture and read every good ever written and walk out 20 years later refreshed. Sitting on the patio at the other Fair Trade location, a car alarm of a car in the parking garage wouldn’t stop going off.

    Walking around downtown Tempe, I was amazed how many of the large buildings built over top of the thriving small businesses now sat empty. Architecture in Phoenix is just &#^*ed. Long Wongs could move back into one of these large glass and steel buildings, but it just wouldn’t work.


  16. Tom Maegdlin

    @ knows beans.

    Wait until the SODO drops. ; )

  17. Brian Clemens

    I don’t know how such a great space was given to such a terrible coffee shop. <– That's my review and I'm sticking to it! Do coffee shops care anymore about training their baristas? About quality? About coffee? About knowledge? Heed this advice….pay the money to buy superior product, hire and train quality baristas, and continually educate yourself and staff. It is truly a turn-off to hear of coffee houses opening up second or third locations when they haven't got the basics down at their first location. Perhaps I'm just a coffee snob who cares too much about quality, taste, customer service OR these things are just the basics to operating a good coffee shop.

  18. Dave

    Wow, now that is just mean….from my understanding, they are a new shop, and a review like this can ruin a reputation. Criticism is OK, but a headline like that is absurd. Maybe Fair Trade Coffee: Work in Progress….I’ve been a visitor of this site for a while, and I think the collusion between Chris and his sponsors is making this site highly bias. Do you think any of his sponsors supply the shops he talks so highly of? Press, Cartel, etc. I get that you love those shops, so can you just get a job there? Or rename the site after them? I’ve been to those places, they’re not the best thing since sliced bread like it seems they are on here. Another thing that has made me visit this site less is all the fuss about Barista Jams….Latte art is fun and all, but in all reality Arizona is not Seattle, people around here just do not care as much about it. How about talking about how the economy is hurting the whole business, especially the small businesses, and how those said businesses can survive. I know I could care less if my latte art isn’t that great, I’m going to drink the drink and quality of the coffee is what really matters. Maybe people use their latte art to distract us from the lack of quality in their coffee beans? I just feel this site has taken a turn for the worse, and it is far from objective and is just like an opinion page from the newspaper.

  19. @Dave
    I have been in Phx over 10 years now and places like Press and Cartel are only the tip of what is possible. Phoenix, despite the economy and as you point out, is not Seattle, San Francisco or Portland. I actually stopped by a cafe the other day that reminded me why I don’t frequent too many coffee shops. Quality of ingredients and care in their preparation is what makes a place good. That is why places here like Cartel and Press are any good-they care about the coffee from seed to cup.
    I have never been to Fair Trade and normally if I don’t have anything good to say, I don’t. I think a coffeehouse needs a synergy of things to succeed and quality product is one of them. That goes for anything really.

    I have to agree I’m not a fan of barista jams and latte art is low on my personal list of criteria; however, a quality espresso shot and properly frothed milk make nice latte art and is a sign of skill not just in the pour but in preparing the actual drink- in most cases.
    You can label me a coffee snob if you like but I’m proud to where that label for the most part. I’m a snob about a lot of things…

  20. fanatic

    1 barista doesn’t make a coffee house. Press does not have good coffee. It is stale and old and no better than buying it at Costco, except that they pay more for the perception that it is Italian. A little dinky roaster does not roast any type of decent coffee. You would be better off paying $5 at Costco than using that.

    I agree with Brian that this site is good to promote the AZ Coffee seen, not judge it or put owners of businesses down. I used to read it a lot, but much less now that it is some site for a couple of people to try to act like they know everything about coffee.

    I get a little sick of Psyd and Tom going on how about how great they are. It is a little much for anyone to take. Who died and made them God?

  21. Dave: A single negative post here isn’t going to ruin a coffee shop like the new Fair Trade Cafe. Arizona Coffee doesn’t carry the weight of Zagat. Arizona Coffee is just one guy’s opinion and you are welcome to your own.

    Fair Trade Cafehas a great location across the street from a popular ASU building and office buildings and will no doubt see plenty of success.

    How can you slam a place like Cartel? Have you never tried a near-perfect cappuccino? I respectfully disagree with your premise that criticism should be avoided or that I am not objective.

    My goal isn’t to be arrogant, and I’m sorry if I came across that way. I wish more people cared about quality coffee. The number that do is growing. There are people in AZ who really care about having good coffee and I hope this site helps them determine the best places to visit.

    I realize you’re thinking I cover certain shops more than others. It isn’t intentional. Just some shops do a better job at making cappuccino’s and so I have to visit them more for my own enjoyment. Other shops, like Press have done a fantastic job of making noise (especially this year).

    Arizona Coffee isn’t my full-time gig, so I don’t have a team of people reviewing shops.

    I’m definitely willing to try the new Fair Trade Cafe again. Perhaps I visited on a bad day. I admit most of the time when doing a review I base it on 2 or more trips.

    I’ve been to their other location a bunch of times and had mixed results. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

    Even on Yelp, people are saying the new location has a lack of ambiance.

    At the same time, check out how many people shout about how bad the service is at Cartel. Should they work on that? I suppose they should. I know I would.

    Relevant: (because you posted using a presumably fake name).

  22. Chris, it’s an excellent, attention-grabbing headline. It still amuses me that people come here and complain that you have an opinion. To Michele’s credit, she’s not one of them. I’ve been to the original Fair Trade several times, and the coffee doesn’t do much for me. But the staff is friendly, at least.

  23. David

    People,this man has a vision to bring to your attention the best coffee shops in Arizona.He has made an excellent website to document his findings that i find to be very informative.I look forward to the next review,hats off to you sir.

  24. Tara

    Ground Control here…way out on the west side. I know we run at a slower pace than you urban folks, but I think you all need to grab a good cup of coffee and find a place to relax.
    Chris, great job. Your criticism is well intentioned and not meant to harm. Thanks for having the passion to do what you do.

  25. @
    This is a place for grownups to talk about coffee. Sometimes we get a little technical, but there are so few people that actually know any damned thing about coffee that when we find someone that can converse about the technicalities of making a great espresso, we’ll do it a lot.
    Instead of complaining about how sick you are about us ‘going on about how great we are’, you can either move on to something that entertains you more, or contribute to the conversation.
    We compare bits that we’ve heard, tried, or learned, and in that comparison we both learn new things.
    It’s a valuable tool or us, and I’m really sorry that you’re sick of it.
    But it probably won’t stop.
    E-mail me at buzzkill (at) theatresound (dot) net, and we’ll discuss the things that are annoying you, and maybe we can work out some way that Tom and I can have technical discussions about coffee without bothering the casual observer.

  26. Dave G.

    I guess I can’t have an opinion on here without being threatened banishment to Siberia…To answer Chris’ issue with my “Code of Conduct” As this is a discussion forum, I do not believe as someone who likes coffee that visits your site that I have to disclose a plethora of personal information. Do I have to provide you a Social Security #? Seriously, as someone who used this site when I first moved to AZ a few years ago to find local coffee shops, I enjoyed what was profiled on the site. The fact that I can’t have an opinion on Chris’ opinions(Posts) is pretty funny in itself. Obviously you’re not the biggest blog in the world, but I’m sure you know how many visitors view your site. And last time I checked controversy is good for viewership, and more views equals more sponsor bucks, especially if people have different views on what is good and not. That’s the beauty of having a comments section. I think it’s not arrogance in your writing, just the tone..and if one thing is not perfect, you loom on that factor and do not bring up more positives, like how that’s a pretty nice looking patio for the urban location or the conference table would be good for study groups of ASU students, etc. All I was saying was that I think the site’s purpose is not what it used to be, and independent shops are not going to survive this “recession” by holding barista jams. Starbucks controls the coffee market here(whether we like it or not—It’s True), and you might not realize how a negatively themed post about a new shop can be another hurdle for a new shop deal with. It’s also very passive-aggresive how you dealt with your hot drink, if it wasn’t drinkable, bring it back, that would be an interesting part of the article, how did the barista deal with that? With a smile? Threw it in your face? Spit in it? That’s a fun little fact someone like me would like to know. You don’t give them a chance to correct the problem, as someone who will later blog about it, shouldn’t you give them that chance?

  27. Bad coffee, good coffee, barista jams, latte art competitions, good reviews, bad reviews, good baristas, bad baristas we all have an opinion and most of us come from different places therefore its inevitable. The exciting things is, we have 27 postings on here so maybe it’s actually sparked some fire into the coffee scene in Phoenix. So, I personally support everyone’s opinion, even if they feel they need to openly rip my place (Press), maybe Chris has caused enough commotion for most of you that RARELY comment in here to actual care again about the local coffee shops here in Arizona. VIVA AZ COFFEE SHOPS!

  28. Hey! Who said Arizona renegades could jump into the ruckus? Steve, I heard the effects of Global Warming are making things awfully cold up there. Maybe we could just send the way too hot steamed milk to you guys and solve our little problem here.

  29. Tom Maegdlin

    @ Fanatic

    I am sorry my conversation with Psyd regarding the construction of a manufacturers steam wand has given you the impression that by through such means I was trying to somehow personally aggrandize. I was merely having a conversation with a fellow enthusiast about well…a steam wand. Not really sure how you read that far into it. The dinky roaster is actually called a Behmor 1600. It is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment we own, and yields great coffee. You could roast 26.4 pounds on a Probat L12 and a little less than half a pound in the behmor. I can roast it in either and yield an identical product every time, so your size argument is pretty much moot. (By that logic star***** would have amazing coffee for roasting on machines the size of a house.) The Behmor has been great for us as we transition into our roastery, and a few people I know have actually purchased one since we have been using it. I’m not really sure where you were going with that.

    In regards to latte art:

    Latte art is not for baristas, it is an indicator of quality and skill TO THE CUSTOMER. Latte art competitions are for fans of coffee, not people in coffee. That is why they broadcast them on food network. This is seriously the last time I ever want to talk about latte art…..ever.

    In regards to barista jams:

    Barista jams are put on to educate, promote, and ostensibly better the specialty coffee industry. I really do not know how to explain it better than that. Around the country and the world, barista jams have proven their worth in the type of competitive culture and community among industry professionals that believe and care about what they are doing. If you don’t feel like people in your shop need to come to them, ignore it.

  30. Dave, your opinion is welcome here, but it seems a bit ironic that your opinion was that Chris shouldn’t provide us with his opinions. Chris went, eh ordered, and he told us what he got and what he thought of it. This is Chris’ site, adn it is what he says it is, adn he’s pretty true to what he’s told us that it is that he’s doing. And that’s why we come back.
    The code of conduct is to keep the Keyboard Kommandos to a minimum. You’re allowed to have an opposing opinion, lots of us do, and we’re still nice to one another. What you shouldn’t do is to suggest that the person with a different opinion is bad, or inadequate.
    Treat others as you would have them treat you, is what he’s saying. If you have a different opinion, let us know what it is. It’s the very reason that there is a comments section.
    If you just want to tell someone why they’re bad, or wrong, or stupid, or annoying, save it, please. None of us are really interested in that sort of thing.
    I took your position on the failing marketplace and Starbucks pwning coffee in Phoenix, and suggest that it’s sites like Chris’ that may make a difference in that arena. If a coffee bar is showing shortcomings, even if temporary, honesty is important. It’s criticism, not advertising, after all.
    So, what happens? The shop gets better because of it, or they don’t. Like you said, I, too would like to see what kind of reaction the baristi have to someone not liking the drink. The problem is that Pavlovian training has rendered that option only available for the stronger coffee fan than I. I’d have probably waked away as well, ’cause historically, if I criticise a barista’s product, I get a mini-lecture about how stupid I am. I’ve had enough of those to last me. Yeah, probably a shortcoming on my part, and Chris’, but until either one of us starts making money at this sort of thing, I think it can be excused.
    Thanks for participating.

  31. Tara

    I think that Dave has a valid point.

    As a business owner negative critiques are very damaging and heart wrenching. The amount of blood, sweat and tears in your own business is beyond words. We all serve products we believe in and strive for quality. Yes, fighting Starbucks is an uphill battle.

    The key point Dave made is about taking the coffee back. That is the learning/teaching moment that is irreplaceable. I agree that it would be interesting to know how the barista dealt with it and if the second drink was better.

    Immediate feedback is more valuable than any post on any website. Not too much to fix with a hot milk issue, but we do get customers let us know if our espresso tastes a little “off”. Every barista can get busy and not adjust their shots when needed and God bless the customers that are willing to tell you.

    We all wish we had a stack of applications for barista positions that were passionate about coffee and lived to pour latte art and push the envelope. But the fact is there are a lot of baristas that are just happy to make coffee and it is more of a job than a calling. Most owners I have met are truly passionate, but that is not something you can teach or instill.

    We have been friends with Steve from Press since he opened and he is very passionate about coffee and the “coffee culture” in Phoenix. He believes in his product and does what is best for his business. He does push himself & everyone that works for him to be their best and pushes himself

  32. Tara has made an interesting point. Should all coffee shops be held to the same standard?

  33. Pingback: Should a coffee shop be expected to produce a quality product all of the time? | Arizona Coffee

  34. Michele: You asked about the ambiance and I thought I would chime in. Maybe a colorful rug would help, maybe some nice chairs and a couch (if there is room), and possibly paint some walls an accent color. I’m not a decorator, only answering your question.

  35. Tara, there are times when you can take a drink back, and times when you get the feeling that it won’t do any good. If you’re faces with a barista that is into his product, you know that he wants to know. If you get a bit of ‘whatever’ initially, and the ‘whatever’ shows up in the cup, there really doesn’t seem to be any reason to go back for ‘whatever’ with spit in it. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. Usually, if the barista cares enough to accept constructive criticism, he care enough to make it with a bit of care and love in the first place. Anyhoo, it’s really hard to get a customer to come tell you that a product is not ideal. It’s easy if it’s ‘wrong’, but who’s to say what is and isn’t the right temperature? Where is it written that shots are supposed to be pulled at more’n thirteen seconds, or less than thirty-six? Somewhere, you have to give a customer the opening, or they just go and talk smack behind your back.
    And yes, all coffee shops should be held to the highest standards. If they are serving espresso, they should strive to serve the best espresso that they can produce. If they prefer to serve automated swill from Costco beans because their customer base will buy it, then they have abdicated any right to be considered in league with those that source and/or roast their own blends, and train their barista to pull the beast out of those beans. We should hold every hamburger joint to the same standard, and if they overcook the burger, we should be able to mention that.
    But that’s just my opinion.

  36. Pierce/Bear

    Talk about a loooooong thread 🙂

  37. Tara

    I am not saying it is ok not to have everyone on the same level. We accept nothing but the best from each of our baristas. Some are just naturally better and take it more seriously. That is a fact of life. I think consistency is a key factor in a coffee house. Starting out that was our #1 complaint. It is not easy to achieve but is achievable.

    I am surprised that there are coffee houses were a customer does not feel comfortable enough to return the drink. I think baristas should be told that the customer is always right (not always the easiest thing to smile through), but if the customers complain they should remake their drink no questions asked. Is that not standard at most places?

    I was just saying that you can’t make a global comment about a coffee shop based on one drink and if you do you should give them a second chance. If you get a reading from the barista that they really do not care, wow not a good asset to the team. They need to be fired.

    Negative comments are not constructive criticism. From a different perspective, say you have a real estate agent that doesn’t show you the houses you want to look at. Is it better for you to tell the agent and help them meet your needs or tell his boss and have his boss post in on a company website? If that one agent is bad, is the whole real estate company a bad company? I know you can argue that both was too.

    Constructive criticism from my perspective is, along the lines of:
    Fair Trade coffee has placed a high priority on…. They get their beans from a local roaster…
    Their baristas need more training – my coffee was too hot and the barista was not concerned with customer service. Staff education woudl help make this a better AZ Coffee company…

    Maybe I am a girl and more of the kinder, gentler mentality??? 🙂

  38. In my experience, when most shops serve crappy coffee it is the best they can do. A lot of shops I’ve been to can’t even froth milk correctly. But I promise you this, the next few times a drink is prepared incorrectly I will go up to the counter and see what happens. It can’t hurt!

    I give shops a second chance all the time, but they are usually repeat visits.

  39. Todd

    Wow – there is a lot of stuff here. I will drop my two cents in here as well as someone who also, on occasion, writes reviews for coffee shops on this site. If I go to a coffee shop and I get a bad cup of coffee I usually am able to determine quickly what the root cause was. Was it equipment, ingredients, training, a combination of the three? Will a few words with the manager/owner of the shop help correct the issue and turn an ‘average’ shop into a ‘great’ shop? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Too often coffee shops are content with churning out ‘so-so’ coffee quickly and covering any defects with sugar/syrup/flavorings. These people can’t be helped as they are satisfied with sub-par coffee. A true aficionado will stay away from these places as coffee is more of a luxury enjoyment than a caffeine delivery vehicle. The fact that Michelle is here asking questions and trying to remedy the situation shows us all that they really care about their product and want to improve it as much as possible.

    The purpose of this site is to discuss coffee shops in Arizona and to promote coffee culture in Arizona. As many people here have said – this is not Seattle or Portland and we don’t have the same coffee culture as these places. My question – why can’t we? Why can’t we help encourage local independent coffee houses that want to encourage coffee culture in Arizona? Barista Jams are simply one facet of the coffee culture many independent coffee houses are trying to build here in Arizona. It is a fun way for ‘competing’ houses to get together, show off, learn new things, and generally talk coffee with each other and the public. Sure – some customers may not care a whit about latte art on their coffee but the fact is that in order to have a barista create latte art on your drink you need excellent, fresh beans; proper espresso extraction; properly frothed milk; and proper barista skill and desire to produce a quality drink. These are all signs of an excellent coffee experience. Many shops here – Cartel, Press, etc – firmly grasp this concept and do everything they can to encourage other independent shops in Arizona to follow the trend started in famously excellent coffee shops of the nation – Stumptown, Intelligenntsia, etc – and spill it over into Arizona. These shops have become world famous because of their commitment to quality – quality ingredients, quality baristas, quality equipment – and because of their commitment to customer education with cupping classes, coffee events, and the like. That is something that can help with and, I think, it does a great job of improving the overall knowledge and education of coffee consumers and professionals.

    Coffee can be a very personal thing. What one person finds to be the best coffee on the planet may not be all that great to the next person. That is why some peoples favorite dish is steak and potatoes, some love pasta, and still others love a nice piece of fish. Everyone is different and everyone is unique. That being said, however, it isn’t too difficult to understand that a burger made at McDonalds will not be anywhere near as good as a burger made at The Roaring Fork. Quality ingredients, quality equipment, and quality cooks/chefs make all the difference in a restaurant just as it does in a coffee shop. Chris is simply trying to let people know where they can go to get the best chance of having a truly exceptional cup of coffee in Arizona.

  40. Brian Clemens


    I’ll be coming to fair trade this week or next week hopefully. Not sure which location I will go to, but would love to meet you if you are there.

  41. Tara, you’re going to have to change a lot about human nature to get your customers to show you where your staff is having a hard time. You’re going to have even more of a hard time to get your customers to show your staff what they need to do to keep customers coming back. The truth of the matter is that folks who have a good experience will tell five of their friends about it, while if it’s a bad experience, they’ll share it with nine. And you’ll never hear about it. The fact that Chris put his (fairly innocuous, actually) comment here is probably letting someone over at FT know that about ninety to two-hundred people might have heard that the drinks at FT were bland and hot that day. or perhaps it was just Chris’. In either case, customer service and quality control are the responsibility of the owner, and reporting unsatisfactory service or product is the customer’s choice, and should be considered a courtesy. Unfortunately, it is all too often taken as an attack, so there aren’t a whole lot of customers that will risk that kind of confrontation.
    If you want to know why most folk won’t tell you, simply scroll up….
    Unless you have it posted as a policy in your store, i.e., “If you don’t like your drink, let us know, we’ll make it again, and if we can’t get it right, you don’t pay” or “If you don’t see what you want, tell us and we’ll make one of those”™, you really can’t expect your customers to know that you’re less confrontational than the emotional wrecks at some coffee houses.
    “I’m actually an actor, I just work here to pay the bills!”
    “Well, in this scene, you make me a cappuccino that has two shots and four ounces of perfect microfoam, and serve it without an attitude. You’re motivation is the continuation of that bill-paying thingie you were talking about earlier.”
    (actual conversation that was instigated by me simply asking how they made their cappuccino)