Matador Coffee Roasting Co.

The drive-through (and walk-by) kiosk of Matador Coffee Roasting Co of Flagstaff, Arizona.I often choose my accommodation during my travels based on where the good coffee is. However, in the case of February’s visit to Flagstaff, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find anything, so the fact that I woke up on my first morning, drew back the curtains in my motel room and found Matador Coffee Roasting Co. literally across the road, was entirely down to good fortune.

Matador is a roaster, coffee shop and drive through, with a second, larger branch (without the roastery) on Highway 89, on the other side of Flagstaff. Occupying an old garage, it’s a handy spot to pick up coffee if you’re driving through, while if you have time to stop, there’s limited seating inside (where, if you’re lucky, you can watch the roaster in operation), or you can sit outside at one of the picnic tables set well back from the road.

Be aware that this is more of a traditional American coffee shop, with a darker roast espresso blend and large drink sizes (12oz to 20oz), plus the ubiquitous bulk-brew options. However, there are also several lighter roasts available as pour-over, while if you’re hungry there’s a small range of breakfast bagels and cakes.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • When I stayed in Flagstaff, this was the view from my motel room...
  • .. and this is the view looking back to my motel. It really is that close.
  • Intrigued, I wandered over on my first morning to find Matador Coffee Roasting Co. This is the view from the road as you drive into town from the south along Milton Road.
  • As well as the main building at the back, there's also this little kiosk out front.
  • The kiosk serves as both a walk-up coffee kiosk and a drive-through.
  • Walk-up is at the front, by the pavement, while drive-through is at the back.
  • It's on the site of an old garage, so there's plenty of space for cars to pull in.
  • The view from the back of the kiosk. If you like, you can wander up and order...
  • ... where you'll get a good view of the two-group lever espresso machine.
  • You have to be up relatively early if you want your morning coffee from the kiosk though.
  • Alternatively, head into the roastery building, which doubles as a coffee shop.
  • You need to order inside, but you can sit outside at one of several picnic tables.
  • The roastery is on the left, while the coffee shop is on the right.
  • That said, you can enter through the roll-up doors of the roastery.
  • Here's the view back towards my motel. It makes an obvious morning coffee stop.
  • If you do go in through the roastery, you'll need to turn right to order in the coffee shop.
  • However, if you do as you're supposed to, and go in on the right, the counter's ahead...
  • ... while a small seating area stretches off to your right.
  • There are a couple of stools at a window bar here...
  • ... which is a lovely, bright spot thanks to the large windows on two sides.
  • There's one more bit, down to the right of the counter, although it's not seating.
  • Instead it's home to Matador's air roaster, used for some of the lighter roasts.
  • There's also a set of retail shelves where you can buy Matador's considerable output.
  • Talking of which, if you turn left when you come in, there's the roastery!
  • A pile of sacks of green beans effectively forms a barrier between it & the public area.
  • If you head further back, you get a better view of the roastery...
  • ... and of the roaster itself. Is it me, or does that look like a tiny tank?
  • There is, by the way, a table in here, at the back on the right, so you can sit and watch.
  • Right at the back is a row of chiller cabinets on the right...
  • ... and on the left, a small kitchen area where the breakfast bagels, etc, are prepared.
  • Matador has some nice touches, such as these flowers on the tablle...
  • ... while the roastery, which has plenty of windows, also has exposed light bulbs.
  • Meanwhile, in the coffee shop part, the light-bulbs hide in these cylindrical shades.
  • To business. You have order at the till, which is directly opposite the door...
  • ... while the menu is chalked up above the counter.
  • The heart of the coffee shop, the espresso machine, is off to the right...
  • ... while if you're having a toasted bagel, that's a DIY operation off to the left.
  • Bulk-brew filter is also help yourself, the flasks out by the roll-up doors of the roastery.
  • On my first visit, on my first morning in Flagstaff, I had an 8oz cappuccino.
  • I returned the following day, when I spotted, hidden at the back, the pour-over kit.
  • Matador uses these V-shaped funnels with a single hole in the bottom.
  • Intrigued, I ordered a pour-over, using a lightly-roasted Guatemalan.
  • This turned out to be a rather large coffee, 20oz in all!
  • Matador employs a single pour technique...
  • ... with the water being slowly, steadily poured over the bubbling coffee...
  • ... until all the water in the kettle is gone and the filter full to the brim.
  • Then the water is left to filter through before the coffee's served in a large cup.
  • I paired this with a breakfast bagel of eggs, cheese and chillis.
  • Finally, I returned on my last morning in Flagstaff for an espresso...
  • ... and a cream cheese bagel.
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Matador Coffee Roasting Co. is just south of the centre of Flagstaff, on South Milton Road. This is the old Route 66 and the natural extension of I-17, so if you’re not skipping Flagstaff entirely by heading east along I-40, it’s hard not to drive past it. Occupying an old garage, the drive-through element is in a neat, square hut on the forecourt, with a walk-up window by the pavement, and a drive-through window on the opposite side where there’s plenty of space to pull up on the broad concourse. Serving until 10:30 in the morning and noon on Friday/weekends, you’re limited to espresso-based drinks, pulled on a lever espresso machine. If you want anything else, you’ll need to head inside.

The main body of Matador is split into three. There’s the outdoor seating area to the left of the building, then the building itself. On the left, the old repair workshop houses the roastery, while on the right, a smaller, glass-sided space, once the cashier’s office, holds the counter, where you need to order, although if the roll-up doors to the roastery are open, you can enter that way, making your way through to the counter.

Assuming that you come in through the front door, the counter’s at the back of a long thin space that stretches off to the right. The till is dead ahead, with the espresso machine to the right. There’s a couple of stools at a window bar opposite the counter, and a set of retail shelves at the far end, where you’ll also find, tucked down past the counter’s right-hand end, a small air-roaster, used for some of Matador’s lighter roasts.

If you want more seating, head to the left where you’ll find a large, six-seater communal table in the corner at the back of the main roastery, ideal for watching the roaster (a Primo PRI-50, I believe) when it’s at work. Typically, Matador roasts once a week, although there are plans to move the roastery out to an industrial unit and to use the space for more seating, so make the most of it while you can!

I started several of my days in Flagstaff with breakfast at Matador, since my hotel stopped serving breakfast at nine o’clock and I invariably got up after that! While the smallest drink size is a 12oz cappuccino, on my first morning I sweet-talked my barista into making an 8oz one. This uses the Grand Canyon Blend (Matador roasts numerous blends) which went well with milk, making for a surprisingly smooth drink. I tried it as an espresso on my final visit, where I found it a bit too dark and bitter, the sort of thing that I’d have loved five years ago. It was perfectly drinkable, but I much preferred it in milk.

On my second day, I spotted a pour-over bar at the back of the counter. Matador offers multiple options (usually around eight) served as a single 20oz pour-over, using a V-shaped cone (think Kalita/Melitta, but with a single hole). Many of these are dark roasts, so I selected the Guatemalan, which was the lightest roast on offer. I was rewarded with a very pleasant coffee which held its own as it cooled and was even better cold, which is just as well given how much of it there was!

My good fortune didn’t end with the discovery of Matador. On my first visit, I ran into Coffee Ken and his family, on their way back to Phoenix. For those who don’t know, Coffee Ken is Arizona’s leading coffee blogger! Talk about good luck…

On my return, I met a barista called Skylar who told me he had recently finished college and was moving to Chicago, where I ran into him just over a year later in Big Shoulders Coffee.

203 SOUTH MILTON ROAD • FLAGSTAFF • AZ 86001 • USA +1 928-226-3354
Monday 06:30 – 18:00 Roaster Matador (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 06:30 – 18:00 Seating Table, Window-bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 06:30 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 06:30 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 06:30 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Sunday 07:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 4th, 5th, 9th February 2018
23rd January 2020

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