Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea

My espresso, a Colombian Geisha, roasted and served at Pair Speciality Coffee & Tea in Mesa, and presented on a square, wooden tray with a glass of water on the side.After five previous visits to Phoenix, where I’ve visited coffee shops in the surrounding cities of Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler, this trip has seen me add Gilbert, Peoria and now Mesa to the list. Mesa, which is east of Tempe and north of Gilbert, is somewhere I’ve only previously driven through on my way to the Superstition Mountains. What caused me to stop on this occasion was Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea, which I was urged to visit by several people, including Fionn of The Pourover and Eric, at Mythical Coffee.

Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea started as a pop-up inside the tap room at Cider Corps, although it’s now migrated to a more permanent set up at the back of the main bar with plans to expand the opening hours in the next month or two. Pair roasts all its own coffee, with five single-origins on pour-over, two of which are also on espresso. These are backed up by five loose-leaf teas pus matcha, with all the coffee/tea available to buy in retail bags.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The home of Mesa's Cider Corps, seen looking north towards Main Street.
  • The building goes a long way back, with a single window halfway along.
  • If you're wondering whether you're in the right place, there's a reassuring sign out front.
  • There's also a food cart if you're feeling hungry!
  • You enter via the roll-up door, while the door/windows to left also belong to Cider Corps.
  • Just inside the door are two long, tall communal tables with stools (seating 16 in all)...
  • ... with a narrow, three-person table against the wall to the right.
  • Beyond this entrance area, Cider Corps stretches out ahead of you. A long way ahead!
  • However, there's more. To the left is this lounge-like space with its own door to the street.
  • There are two large sofas, each with its own coffee table and armchairs.
  • This one, in the windows at the front, looked particularly comfortable!
  • If you do come in through the front door, you can get to Cider Corops through the back.
  • Back in the main space of Cider Corps (the tap room), a long bar runs down the left...
  • ... opposite which are a row of six six-person tables...
  • One of the six-person tables in more detail...
  • ... beyond which, under the solitary window in the wall, are a pair of two-person tables...
  • ... with their view of the parking lot across the road.
  • The view from the back of the tap room. Despite the light from the front & the window...
  • ... there are still plenty of lights, so here's the obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • Finally, at the end of the bar, on its own little counter, is Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea.
  • Just in case you needed confirmation you'd made it to the right place.
  • Pair's not the only tenant, by the way. Right at the back is Myke's Pizza.
  • Down to business. Pair's delightfully concise menu is on the counter top...
  • ... while all the beans are off to one side in their retail bags.
  • Next to this comes the filter set-up, with the espresso machine at the back of the counter.
  • Pair uses the most delightful ceramic drippers (Origami from Kurasu).
  • The Origami is slightly wider than a V60, with a different fluting, but the same central hole.
  • Pair uses the filter papers for the Stagg Dripper from Fellow, which are flat-bottomed.
  • The kettles and grinder for the pour-over set up are behind the till/menus.
  • I decided to put the Origami filter to the test. Here my coffee has been left to bloom.
  • Next comes the first pour, where Kimhak fills the filter to the top...
  • ... using a steady, circular pouring technique...
  • ... that will be familiar to any barista.
  • The coffee is then left to stand. I went for the Colombian Geisha, by the way...
  • ... the most expensive item on the menu! Next comes the second pour...
  • ... which is very similar to the first pour...
  • ... with the filter filled almost to the top.
  • The coffee is then left to stand. Finally, there is a short third pour, where Kimhak uses...
  • ... the Melodrip, a device designed to reduce the agitation of coffee grounds.
  • After the coffee has filtered through, it's served in a mug along with a glass of water.
  • I also found out that the Geisha was on espresso. Well, I couldn't say no, could I?
  • The espresso machine, at the back of the counter, is ideal for watching espresso extract...
  • ...and I love watching espresso extract. Nice stream, by the way.
  • And here's the finished article. I'll leave you with my espresso...
  • ... beautifully-presented on a wooden tray, glass of water on the side.
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Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea is inside Cider Corps, which occupies the end unit of a large, single-storey warehouse-like building in downtown Mesa, one block south of Main Street. There’s a large (free) carpark in the neighbouring lot, while if you’re relying on public transport, it’s a short walk from the Light Rail. You enter at the front, Cider Corps stretching out ahead of you. It goes a long way back, is quite a wide and is open to the wooden rafters high above.

There’s some seating by the door, while a self-enclosed space to the left (with its own street door) has a lounge with two large sofas and several armchairs. Beyond this, a long bar, which seats 15, runs down the left-hand side, while on the right is a row of six six-person communal tables. There are also a pair of square, two-person tables under the solitary (but large) window on the right, which is opposite the start of the bar.

At the far end of the bar, on a small, L-shaped counter of its own, is Pair. You need to order here, but as far as I can tell, you’re welcome to take your coffee anywhere within Cider Corps. This simultaneously makes Pair one of the largest/smallest coffee shops I’ve visited. Pair is not alone, by the way, with Myke’s Pizza occupying the final quarter of building, just beyond Pair, while if you’re hungry, there’s also a food truck out front.

Pair has an interesting backstory, starting life as Pair Cupworks, but rather than repeating it here, I recommend Fionn’s excellent article in Daily Coffee News. Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea is run by Kimhak, who spent several years at Peixoto (where he met Eric, now of Mythical Coffee). Kimhak had always intended to open his own coffee business, starting with roasting his own coffee on a Huky 500, a 500g capacity, gas-fired roaster from Taiwan. Kimhak still uses the Huky, which means that he’s roasting pretty much every day to keep up with demand!

Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea began as a pop-up, with Kimhak making pour-over on one of the tables, before expanding to the counter, where there’s a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, two grinders and a small pour-over area with the cutest ceramic filters I’ve seen (Origami from Kurasu, which Kimhak uses with Stagg filter papers).

I had a pour-over of the Colombian Geisha, served in a mug with a glass of sparkling water. A delicate coffee, it grew on me as it cooled, developing more body and allowing the fruity flavours to come through. It was even better when cold, which is always a good sign.

When Kimhak told me it was also on espresso, I couldn’t resist. Served in a small, ceramic cup, with another glass of water, beautifully presented on a wooden tray, it was recognisably the same coffee, but tasted quite different, this time with a more acidic finish. All-in-all, two very impressive coffees to see me on my way!

31 SOUTH ROBSON #103 • MESA • AZ 85210 • USA
https://paircupworks.com
Monday CLOSED Roaster Pair (espresso + filter)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Bar, Tables, Sofas
Wednesday 06:30 – 14:00 Food No
Thursday 06:30 – 14:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 06:30 – 14:00 Payment Card + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 14:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:00 – 14:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 17th January 2020

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