An awesome cortado in a glass, using a single-orign Kenyan from Heart Coffee Roasters, served in FUTURO in Phoenix.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.

  • On North 1st Street in Phoenix stands this low, wide, white building, home to PALABRA.
  • This is the view down 1st St: not many cities have mountains at the end of the street!
  • Back to PALABRA. Sort of inset into the front is the coffee counter of FUTURO.
  • At first it seems it's just a hole-in-the wall, but get closer: there are openings left & right.
  • The minimalist counter is the focal point...
  • .. while off to the left, there's a communal table...
  • ... with a couple more chairs around the corner to the left. This is more gallery though.
  • There's (slightly) more tradiitional seating off to the right in the form of a long bench...
  • ... which extends around to the right...
  • ... ending with these two square armchairs.
  • The view out of the front, as seen from the counter.
  • There are also two doors on the sides, seen here from the one on the left.
  • PALABRA is shaped like an H, with two corridors extending back beyond the counter.
  • The one on the left (previous photo) leads to the kitchen, while this, on the right...
  • ... goes past a hair studio on its way...
  • ... to the yard at the back, where the seating is provided by two white cubes.
  • Talking of the back, you can get in from 2nd St, seen here at the junction with Garfield St.
  • This is the parking lot behind PALABRA, off of 2nd St. Very handy.
  • From the back yard, just take one of these two doors to get to FUTURO at the front.
  • As well as hosting FUTURO, PALABRA is an art gallery. The latest show...
  • ... 'Pieces of Us' by Austin Sanchez, opened two days earlier on Friday.
  • It consists of seven paintings displayed in the gallery space to the left...
  • ... which doubles as seating space for FUTURO.
  • On the other side of FUTURO, there's a projector in the ceiling...
  • ... which was showing He Man cartoons the enitre time I was there (with no sound).
  • Down to business.The counter is a simple affair...
  • ... which is much easier to photograph from the side!
  • The till is off to the left...
  • ... where you'll also find the menu.
  • FUTURO uses Heart, from Portland, although it's only just switched from La Cabra.
  • I had a cortado, made with a Kenyan single-origin, served in a wide-brimmed glass.
  • Nice latte art.
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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…

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

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Phoenix’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Phoenix.

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