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.
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!
December 2020: Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea has won the 2020 Best Filter Coffee Award.
|31 SOUTH ROBSON #103 • MESA • AZ 85210 • USA
|Pair (espresso + filter)
|Bar, Tables, Sofas
|06:30 – 14:00
|06:30 – 14:00
|Order at Counter
|06:30 – 14:00
|Card + Cash
|07:00 – 14:00
|Free (with code)
|07:00 – 14:00
|17th January 2020
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Phoenix for more great Coffee Spots.
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