Today I was visiting the Village Coffee web site and noticed their claim of being one of the oldest independent coffee house in Arizona, having opened in 1996.

It got me thinking about how coffee shops are really in a new era. There are so many shops that are in their infancy today. I’d wager that 75% of the coffee shops in AZ haven’t even been open for 5 years. But is this a new era? Are the coffee shops that are super cool in Arizona going to last? I think so, because they are really starting to focus on quality and people are finally supporting the shops that do.

If you ask anybody in Phoenix about Coffee Plantation they usually point out things that could have been. Most people I talk to today don’t think Coffee Plantation will recover. It’s key locations have closed (Biltmore and Tempe) and the quality hasn’t improved. Most locations only have one person on staff. It used to be a great place to get coffee, but not any more.

The Tempe location of Coffee Plantation opened in 1989 which probably makes it a contender for oldest in Phoenix.

But Macy’s in Flagstaff might be the statewide winner having been founded in 1980.

Bentley’s in Tucson was founded in 1984.

Does anybody know of any older shops?

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Hello Arizona coffee dudes. Yes indeed, Village coffee is one of the oldest running coffee houses in town, second place that I remember started in house roasting in PHX metro area (the Coffee Plantation on Mill was the first). Mill’s End (used to be Charlie’s Espresso), Romancing the bean, and Willow house are from around the same time. One thing is for sure; there is a new batch of coffee shops brewing. They look different and are bringing al sorts of new ideas. They are also more into being community driven places than many of there predecessors. Take into consideration that we have way more competition now than 10 years ago because we also have a new generation of nation wide competitors new and old ($bxs, Mcd’s, Dunkin, etc) way more aggressive promoting themselves than before.
    I see the Arizona coffee houses changing the way of interacting with there costumers and educating them more about what makes them different, better communication portals and some of them are already started to roast there own beans.
    It will be good; I think that there are plenty room for local and independent new batch of coffee houses. After all, we should know our own community better than nationwide chains.

    About Coffee Plantation they had an awesome opportunity and at the end they refused to change. They were the independent industry leaders for a long time but did not keep that leader attitude. There is nothing more permanent than change itself. Do not fear it.

  2. Yeah when I worked at the Willow House I remember we claimed to be the first but that wasn’t backed up by any real facts. We were probably 3 or 4th realistically. But at that time we were also going on 16 years or so, so maybe the longest coffee shop still in business?

  3. Well, the longest coffee shop that WAS in business at the time I should say. As we are now closed.

  4. Um, I’d have to check with Tod Mettler about menus and locations, but Duck and Decanter might be the winner here in the Valley. I’ll get back with results, but they’ve had brew and tea since the late ’70s, early ’80s.

  5. Wow, I never thought of Duck and Decanter as a coffee shop.

  6. Vance

    I used to work at the Coffee Plantation on Mill back in 1990 – I worked with the roaster. Looking back on it now the place felt more like a Disneyland ride than a coffee shop – replete with fake palm trees, burlap coffee sacks, and plantation-esque flim flam. I recently resettled in Phoenix after living back East for a decade or so, and wasn’t surprised to see the Mill location empty when I returned. Coffee has to be the focus, not chotchkes