Firecreek Coffee Company was a chance discovery when I visited Flagstaff in February 2018. A roaster/coffee shop, Firecreek has a second location in Sedona, and has since opened a third in Cottonwood, as well as today’s Coffee Spot, it’s first venture in Phoenix. Located inside The Marylin, an iconic building that’s home to various offices, you’ll find Firecreek Arcadia on East Thomas Road, roughly equidistant between downtown Phoenix and Oldtown Scottsdale. While a car is advised (The Marilyn has an extensive parking lot), buses also run along East Thomas so it is, in theory, accessible by public transport.
The coffee shop is a beautiful, irregularly-shaped space, with a wide variety of seating both inside and out. The offering is familiar to anyone who has visited the original Firecreek in Flagstaff, the espresso-based menu catering to both the speciality coffee community, with options like the espresso set, and the more mainstream American coffee-drinker and their beloved 16oz lattes. There’s also batch-brew filter and pour-over made with the Clever Dripper or cafetiere using any of the available beans. Talking of which, all the coffee is currently roasted in Flagstaff, but Firecreek is in the process of opening a dedicated Phoenix roastery/coffee shop.
Continuing the theme from last month’s visit to Phoenix of old friends in new places, today’s Coffee Spot is Regroup Coffee + Bicycles, which I first visited five years ago in February 2018. Back then, Regroup was best described as a coffee bar in a bicycle shop in Old Scottsdale and while it had only been open for little more than a year at that point, it had big plans, including roasting its own coffee. In 2021, those plans came to fruition with a move south along Scottsdale Road and across the line separating Scottsdale from Tempe.
These days Regroup occupies a standalone building with a spacious coffee shop on the ground floor, which it shares with the roastery and a bicycle repair shop at the back. Upstairs is the showroom/sales area and offices, which doubles as additional seating, plus there’s outside seating on the terrace at the front. The familiar Mk II Slayer espresso machine has also made the move from Scottsdale, where it anchors a concise menu based around the seasonal house-blend, backed up with a single-origin on both batch-brew and pour-over using the V60. There’s also a limited food menu along with cakes if you’re hungry.
My first visit to Phoenix, in October 2016, saw the chance discovery of Press Coffee in the Scottsdale Quarter development, a short walk from my hotel at the time. Since then, I’ve been a regular visitor on my frequent returns to the area, often calling in on my way to/from the office. However, that was the old Press Coffee in Scottsdale Quarter: in July 2021, Press Coffee moved to a new, much bigger unit on the other side of the development. Naturally on my return at the start of 2023, I had to check it out.
The old location had a slightly awkward layout, but lots of charm, whereas the new location, a corner spot with windows on either side, has a more regular feel to it. There are two ranks of tables in the middle, with the counter at the back, while the windows and high ceiling lead to a bright, airy space. There’s more seating outside, with tables along the front and down the side. The offering is the familiar Press Coffee one, with two options on espresso, batch-brew filter and pour-over, all roasted in-house, along with limited but very tempting breakfast and lunch menus, backed up with cakes/pastries.
When I last visited Phoenix in January 2020, my first port of call was Mythical Coffee in Gilbert, which had, at that point, been open for just two weeks. It’s therefore fitting that on my return to Phoenix last month after a three-year absence, my first stop was Mythical North, Mythical’ s Scottsdale outpost. Not that Mythical North was entirely new to me, since I’d been a frequent visitor during its previous incarnation as Maverick Coffee. Located in the Paradise Valley Plaza, an old-style outdoor mall in Scottsdale, Mythical is conveniently located just around the corner from my usual hotel, making it a natural place to stop for my morning coffee, particularly on the drive to the office.
The change from Maverick to Mythical occurred in August 2022 and was more merger than takeover, Eric and the team at Mythical buying into the existing business. The changes have also been gradual rather than wholesale, the coffee shop feeling very much as it had been on my previous visits, although the coffee now all comes from Mythical, roasted off-site on a brand-new Loring roaster. The biggest (physical) difference is the expansion into the space next door, very much a work-in-progress.
The final Coffee Spot from last October’s mid-American road trip is, appropriately enough, from our last stop, Chattanooga, before we arrived home that evening in Atlanta. Velo Coffee Roasters was on my original list of places to visit and I’d planned to call in when we stopped in Chattanooga on the drive out. However, we arrived too late, making the chance discovery of Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery instead. On our return, I was determined not to make the same mistake, reaching Chattanooga with time in hand.
Velo Coffee Roasters is one of Chattanooga’s speciality coffee pioneers, having opened in 2009 before moving to its current location, just down the street from Neidlov’s, in 2015. Both coffee shop and roastery, Velo has a large, sheltered outdoor seating area and a quirky, multi-faceted interior, with the bonus of a barbershop upstairs at the back. Returning to coffee, the Boneshaker blend is offered as default for milk-based drinks, along with a single-origin option, while there are two single-origins on pour-over through the AeroPress, Chemex or Kalita Wave filter, one of which is also available on batch brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are freshly-baked cakes and pastries from Chattanooga bakery, Bread & Butter.
Continuing the return leg of my mid-America road trip from October last year brings us to Saint Louis, which marks the mid-point of the journey. We actually called in at Blueprint Coffee on the way back, but since I’ve already written about that, today’s the turn of Sump Coffee, where we stopped on the way out. This is the original Sump Coffee, which also has a second location in Nashville. Occupying a beautiful old building on the corner of Winnebago Street and Jefferson Avenue, there’s a small outdoor terrace at the front, while inside Sump Coffee occupies three long, thin rooms, the last of which houses the 10 kg Diedrich roaster, which produces all the coffee, both for here and for Nashville.
Talking of which, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee. Like Sump’s Nashville location, there are three single-origins on espresso, with six more on pour-over, plus three cold brew options. Naturally, all the beans are for sale in retail bags, along with a selection of coffee-making equipment and merchandising. Meanwhile, if you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a selection of teas, while if you’re hungry, Sump has a range of cakes and pastries too.
The Coffee Spot gets another year underway by returning to my mid-America road trip from October last year and the first stop on our return leg, Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coffea has three locations, all in Sioux Falls, but this is the flagship, combining coffee shop and roastery in a lovey, multi-faceted space on the city’s west side. There are multiple choices on espresso, batch brew and pour-over, while if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house.
Sadly this was very much a flying visit since we had started late that day, had a long way to go and wanted to see the eponymous Sioux Falls (which are well worth the effort, and, if you have time for coffee, Coffea’s downtown espresso bar isn’t that far away). As a result, I wasn’t able to do a full write-up, lacking both the photographs and the extensive notes that I normally take, so instead you’ll have to make do with the year’s first Saturday Snapshot.
Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2023 underway, here are the winners of the 11th annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2022. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced on a rolling basis starting on Boxing Day and now we have the winners!
Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page and looked at my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.
And finally, please accept my apologies for the delays with this year’s Awards. There’s been a lot going on in my life, including moving house two days before Christmas, which has really slowed me down this year. Anyway, without further ado, let’s find out who won!
So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, the only one that you, my readers, decide. It’s the “Most Popular Coffee Spot” Award, which is based on the total number of views received by each Coffee Spot in 2022.
Last year this was won last year by Lily London, Guildford. This year’s top 10 consists of seven Coffee Spots, including three from my trip to California over the summer, and three Saturday Supplements.
Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by The Hideaway. This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.