Tag Archives: downtown

Lola Coffee

Lola Coffee


Lola coffee, located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, was recommended to me by a local friend. He said that Lola “is where you go if you want a great cup of coffee.” That prospect was good enough for me, and I set out with a few family members in tow. Located on the corner of Roosevelt and 3rd Ave, Lola isn’t especially large. It does, however, have a patio area for sitting outside when the Phoenix heat is tolerable.

The Snapshot

A few things immediately struck me when I walked inside: the people who run Lola clearly have an eye for design. The small-ish area for sitting is maximized with bars along the back wall and front window. A few leather chairs and a couch decorate the interior, and three large, wooden tables great for using a laptop or (as one couple was doing) completing a crossword puzzle. The back wall is decorated with a massive, somewhat abstract, oil painting on four large canvases. A large glass case stands in front of the espresso machine, filled with baked goods and topped by jars of homemade cookies and croissants. On the front wall hangs an old wooden door with a glass panel – black marker spells out the relatively simple, no-frills coffee menu. Beside the door a metal sheet with “Lola” cut out hangs.

The Coffee

Evernote Camera Roll 20131229 120408Lola’s menu is comprised of espresso drinks and automatic drip coffee. No manual drip methods are available, but what Lola does do, they do well. I chose a normal latte, which they served in a ceramic mug with simple coffee art on top. My dad ordered a hot chocolate (I didn’t inherit my love of coffee from him) and they asked if he wanted whip cream. My dad said yes, and instead of pulling out a pressurized can of store-bought whip cream, the baristas used their own, homemade, brown sugar whip. I tried some of my dad’s, and it far exceeded my expectations.

The espresso was great, and it’s no wonder considering Lola roasts all their own coffee. I enjoyed my latte immensely – it was creamy and smooth from the well frothed milk, and left a bright finish from the lightly acidic espresso. Along with coffee, my family purchased a “Sal De mar” chocolate chip cookie, sprinkled with Maldon sea salt. The cookie was delicious and went perfectly with our respective cups of coffee.

The baristas at Lola were cheery and helpful, speedily pulling our shots and smiling the whole way through. I could tell they enjoy working there, and their happiness was well represented in our mugs.

Final Thoughts

Evernote Camera Roll 20131229 130534Phoenix isn’t exactly known for its coffee scene, but places like Lola make me re-think my preconceived notions about where a great cup can come from. Lola and smaller coffee shops like it are living reminders that you don’t need to be from Seattle, New York, or San Francisco to make great coffee. Dedicated employees, a passion for design, attention to detail about the small things, and a cheerful attitude go a long way in pushing forward quality coffee all around the world.

Next time you’re in Phoenix, don’t hesitate to stop by Lola Coffee. You won’t regret it.

The Coffee Guy

Lola’s website

Bluebird Coffee Shop Review


One of the perks to going to school an hour north of NYC is that I occasionally get to venture into the city for an adventure or two. The problem is that the barriers to entry are large – logistics of where to stay, how to save money, and who to hang out with have prevented me from getting into the city nearly as often as I’d like. Today is one of those opportunities I rarely have – a free evening in New York City with little on my plate, and a hankering for good coffee.

Bluebird LogoToday I find myself at Bluebird Coffee Shop in East Village, Manhattan. Good coffee has slowly been seeping into this turf – one that until recently has been heavily steeped in the likes of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. In March of 2010 the NYT ran an article titled “New York Is Finally Taking Its Coffee Seriously” where it outlined some of the quality coffee that was only then starting to pierce the veil of commodity coffee. One of the coffee shops covered in that article is Bluebird Coffee Shop, where I just ordered a standard latte.

The Snapshot

Bluebird Coffee Shop is small, located on the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street in East Village. It has a bar that can be sat at from the inside or outside, and three small tables (they can fit your coffee or your laptop – not both). Half of the room is dedicated to the coffee bar and storage shelves in the back. They serve whatever is in season from Counter Culture, with several roasts for sale by the bag. Their menu is composed of espresso drinks and drip coffee. To my chagrin, no pour-overs are available. Still, the coffee is excellent, and the shots are pulled well. The environment is minimalist, the music is low but enchanting. It’s the type of place to stop while on your way elsewhere, not necessarily ideal to stop and smell the roses.

Since I’ve been sitting here, several locals have come in for an espresso shot and to discuss coffee with the barista. This is a place that depends on regulars.

The Coffee


Lattes are hard to make poorly, but equally as hard to make excellent. I ordered one because, well, I felt like one. That being said, it was excellent. And I don’t use that term lightly. The barista frothed the milk to exactly the right consistency, and the shots were pulled without flaw. The latte art was impeccable (I had already taken a sip in the picture on the right) and from the conversations the barista was having with customers I could tell he loves his craft.

While it was hard to tell the specific notes of the espresso due to the creamy and delicious milk, I could tell that they had light, fruity tones to them. Definitely nice for a summertime latte. I just got into town, and it was exactly what I needed after a day of flights and time change.


Final Thoughts

Bluebird Coffee Shop is worth visiting if you can make the trek to East Village or if you live nearby. A few notes: they have a $10 minimum for card swipes, but gladly accept cash. They have bags of freshly roasted Counter Culture for sale, and they also sell KeepCups (which I can personally endorse having used one for months). Additionally, wifi is free, as is people watching!


The Coffee Guy

Find Bluebird Coffee Shop Online:
Bluebird’s Facebook Page

Bringing taste and community to Boise: Dawson’s

The Coffee Guy @ Dawson's DowntownThere’s three things you can do in Boise on any given weekend. 1) Go hunting for whatever’s in season. 2) Work, and wish you were doing something else. 3) Head downtown to hang out with friends and share in community. Most sane people choose option three (unless they really like venison jerky 😀 ).

BoDo is a place with much to do, even for those out-of-state. Parks, shops, music, clubs, and everything in-between. Although all of downtown has hangout locations, one rises above all the rest. If you’re a local, you know 8th street is THE place to chill. And everyone who’s anyone knows that Dawson’s Downtown is THE place to get coffee on 8th street.

Dawson's DowntownAn out-of-stater, or first time local, may feel slightly left out moments after walking into Dawson’s. It’s clear this is a regular local hangout: the baristas greeting people by name, folks standing around talking to friends they just ran in to, and a definite atmosphere of relaxation. That same out-of-stater, or first-timer, will soon lose this feeling of intimidation moments after ordering their coffee. The staff at Dawson’s greets everyone with a smile and a compliment, if only in demeanor. The coffee shop is decorated in snipits of humor, warm-colored paint, and even a mosaic featuring a cup of joe. After getting past their initial bout of insecurity, that same out-of-stater/first-timer will recognize the inherit love and joy that permeates the very walls of Dawson’s Downtown. It’s like a really sweet party that you didn’t know was going on. Now that you’re in, you can’t help but tell others about it.

Dawson's Downtown 2So what about the coffee? Dawson’s uses a medium roast espresso blend for everything you order. They also feature many different types of house blends, changing them day-to-day. Their 12oz espresso coffees come with two shots, 16oz with three, and 20oz with three or four (depending on your addiction level).
The espresso drinks are smooth and have a constant, very flavorful taste. I personally recommend their breve with your choice of syrup; its creamy taste combined with the smooth shots is an incredible flavor and texture combination to behold. It’s clear the baristas have a feel for how to do coffee, and their humor and passion only add to that expertise.
Dawson’s is slightly pricey- $3.10 for a 16oz latte. That being said, the price is well worth the taste and experience, and no where near the fortune it takes to get the same drink at brand-name coffee houses. If I were you, I’d cough up the change- you won’t be disappointed.

I really love Dawson’s Downtown! Their great customer service, the awesome people, atmosphere of joy, and fabulous coffee, combined with the free wi-fi makes me give it a four thumbs up.

The story of Dawson Taylor, as told from the founders (from http://DawsonTaylor.com)

On October of 1995, we began Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters in response to the need for a local roaster of exceptional quality coffees. Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters is named after our son, Dawson Taylor Ledgard.

We operate with this goal in mind: To provide the highest quality coffees available. With our experience and passion for coffee, we offer unparalleled customer support and service.

Every day, we roast beans of the highest quality from the finest coffee-producing regions and estates of the world. Freshness is of paramount concern when roasting such specialty grades of coffee. Therefore, we custom roast in small batches as individual orders dictate.

We use a traditional European-style drum roaster. This hands-on method ensures that our coffee can be roasted to perfection. We take great pride in the art of consistently roasting every order that will bear our name.

More than 15 years of experience in the specialty coffee marketplace, coupled with our pledge for integrity, offer a unique opportunity for partnership. We trust that you will be completely satisfied should you select Dawson Taylor as your coffee roaster.

– Dave and Cindy Ledgard

Dawson’s has several locations around the Treasure Valley. For the full effect, head to 8th street.

What’s your experience with Dawson’s?

The Coffee Guy

A personal note to the first-timer:
Just so you know, Dawson’s is famous for being hardcore about supporting local coffee. NEVER discuss The Great Satan (Starbucks) in their presence. The picture below speaks for itself.

Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks
Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Starbucks