FUTURO is a relatively new name in speciality coffee, right in the heart of Phoenix. It’s been going for two years, so I’m rather annoyed that while visiting in January last year, I managed to get within half a block of FUTURO, as I strolled along Roosevelt Street searching for (and failing to find) good coffee. FUTURO is housed within PALABRA, a sort of mothership which contains FUTURO (the coffee bar), a gallery, a hairdressers and PASADO, which is a new venture, serving small plates from the kitchen at the back (but not on Sunday, which, of course, is when I visited).
FUTURO is not quite like any coffee shop I’ve visited before, which is a refreshing change from some of the common design elements I see time and time again. There’s minimal seating off to the left and right, as well as sheltered backyard behind the building by the parking lot. The coffee is also very atypical for Phoenix, with a wide selection of single-origins being provided by Heart Coffee Roasters in Portland. There’s a different one on each day, with one option on espresso and another on bulk-brew from a Fetco brewer discreetly tucked away under the counter.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
PALABRA occupies a striking, squat, wide, single-storey rectangle on North 1st Street, surrounded by construction sites. While all the construction will benefit the area hugely in the long term, don’t let it put you off in the short-term, or you’ll be missing out on something very special.
When I first arrived, I thought that FUTURO was just a hole-in-the-wall operation, the counter inset at the back of a large recess in the front of the building. However, as I got closer, I realised that there’s more to FUTURO/PALABRA than meets the eye. There are a pair of glass doors, one on either side, then, just as you get to the counter, PALABRA opens up to the left and right, the twin spaces providing the seating for FUTURO. The décor is predominantly white, with a white counter, white walls, white ceiling and, just for contrast, white furniture. Fortunately, the concrete floor is grey, otherwise I might have needed my sunglasses!
The space resembles an H, entrance at the bottom, the counter at the cross, and seating to the left/right in the bottom part of the H. more of PALABRA’s businesses are at the back, with the twin strokes of the H acting as corridors leading to a sheltered backyard. On the left, you’ll pass the kitchen, while on the right, there’s the hairdressers (in the space behind the counter) as well as a photographic studio. The backyard itself has more seating for FUTURO, with a pair of low, white squares which are either seats or coffee tables, depending on who is using them. There’s also a pair of benches out here.
Inside, the seating is fairly simple. Off to the left, the space doubles as a gallery, the seven paintings on the wall adding a much-needed dash of colour. There’s a large, six-person communal table with a transparent top here, plus two further chairs. To the right, a white bench runs the length of the white-painted wall, with five white tables. There’s also a low, bench/coffee table (I couldn’t decide which) between the counter and the wall. The splash of colour on this side comes from two square, black armchairs at the front, with a concrete block as a coffee table, plus, on the back wall, a projector was showing episodes of He Man.
The counter is a similarly minimalist, till on the left, coffee on the right behind a large, transparent screen. There’s a two-group La Marzocco Linea and its grinder, while on a work-surface at the back, there’s an EK-43 grinder for filter coffee.
FUTURO has recently changed roaster from Denmark’s La Cabra to Portland’s Heart, with single-origins on espresso and filter. My barista recommended the Kenyan single-origin on espresso with milk, so I opted for a cortado, served in a wide-brimmed glass. This turned out to be awesome, the milk bringing out some amazing notes in the coffee, the whole ensemble tasting something akin to a rich, malted-milk biscuit (if anyone remembers them). It’s safe to say that I’ve never had a coffee tasting like that before and, while that can sometimes be a double-edged compliment, I mean this wholeheartedly. If all my cortados/flat whites tasted as good as this, I wouldn’t complain.
I got chatting with the owner, Jorge, who was telling me that as well as the recent change in roaster, there were more changes afoot, with FUTURO having recently started doing small plates (although not on Sunday). This will lead to a more expanded food offering and, probably, changes to the seating in the gallery area. I guess I’ll just have to come back then…
|909 NORTH 1ST STREET • PHOENIX • AZ 85004 • USA|
|http://palabraphx.com||+1 602 730 3227|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Heart (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Bench, Comfy Chairs|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Small Plates (Wednesday to Saturday)|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||18th March 2018|
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