Category: Phoenix
Coffee Bar at The Henry

First, I have to go off topic here and say that the hamburger at The Henry is one of the best I have ever had in my life. This is not a hyperbole. I love hamburgers and, at some point, I order one at every restaurant I try. The reason the hamburger at The Henry is so amazing to me is that their meat is flavorful and not too dry (even when ordered well done) and their special sauce serves as a the perfect complement. The French Fries are great as well.

Now, back to the coffee. One of the first things you notice about The Henry is the beautiful European aesthetic of the restaurant and coffee bar. Located in the heart of Arcadia, just east of 44th street on Camelback Road, The Henry stands out as a happening hangout for people of all ages. The inside of the building feels European with its dark wood floors, various shades of blue walls and tapestries, and heavy wood tables accompanied with the traditional green bankers lamps. Since this place is almost always busy the tables near the front are usually taken, but there is an additional room off to the side with long rectangular tables and chairs for people to work or reserve for meetings. On a nice day, patrons can relax with a cup of coffee on their front porch area where there’s plenty of seating.

The food and pastries at the coffee bar are very tasty. The selection of breakfast sandwiches and cakes is pretty extensive. They also offer a variety specialty coffee drinks, such as mochas, cappuccinos, and espressos. I typically get their plain coffee or a café au lait. The coffee is pretty decent. It’s nothing to write home about, but at least their brew is not too heavy or too bland. Their customer service is also satisfactory, but my one complaint about this place is their layout. The line for ordering is right by the door, so, as soon as you walk in, you hit a wall of people. There’s not whole lot of room for people to stand in line, which, during peak hours, feels awkward. If it weren’t for that additional room, it would be next to impossible to guarantee an indoor place to sit. The parking seems plentiful, but come lunchtime or the weekends, this lot gets full pretty quickly. Fortunately, they do have a complimentary valet service for their patrons.

Since starting this coffee blog, I have found that the popular coffee spots don’t do a lot to promote community because they don’t have to. People bring their friends and family or their laptops. While I do enjoy having a cup of coffee at The Henry, it’s not exactly my “go-to.” I tend to prefer the less trendy places that have a more neighborhood feel.

Bikini Beans Coffee Review

I’ve only been to Bikini Beans once and that’s because I was so uncomfortable, I’ve never had any desire to go back. The location I went to was in the heart of central Phoenix, off 7th street, just south of Indian School. The coffee shop is mostly a drive thru operation, with a few tables on their small outdoor patio. What apparently makes this coffee shop “unique” and apparently an attraction is that their baristas are all young women scantily clad in bikinis. The menu of specialty coffee drinks looks a lot like what you would see at other places.

I ordered a plain cup of joe, so I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary. Ironically, though I was uncomfortable being the only female patron amidst a long line of guys cruising by to get their morning caffeine fix, I was surprised to find that the barista was the friendliest person behind the counter I’ve so far experienced in my voyage of trying out different cafes. Even though there was a line developing at the drive thru, the woman took the time to say hello and ask me how my day was going. Most of the time when I go to these shops, the baristas are not really present. It doesn’t matter whether there’s a long line of customers or if I’m the only one in the shop. I respect the fact that baristas, or anyone working in a coffee shop, has a tough job. Customers take their coffee very seriously. However, with the number of coffee shops out there, good customer service goes a very long way. It doesn’t take much to make people feel welcomed, but it can truly make a difference in someone’s day. In a world where most of our connections are virtual, something as small as even a smile will make a lasting impression on someone.

Bikini is obviously not the type of coffee shop you go to if you want to meet up with a friend or work on your laptop. It’s mainly for people who need to quickly grab coffee on their way to work, with the perk of seeing an attractive woman in a bikini.

On the company’s website, part of their mission statement reads:

“As the first bikini barista shop in Arizona, we want to positively

inspire our local community by empowering others to do what they

want and love what they do. You [sic] Our brand is founded

upon providing exceptional customer service and delivering a quality

product. We achieve this by creating a personable experience on

every visit by making sure your drink is made just the way you like it.”

First, someone should have proofread their website content. Second, baristas wearing bikinis is a novelty, but there’s nothing about showing skin that empowers a woman. A woman is empowered when she loves herself. How many women do you know dislike their bodies because of the pressure to look a certain way? If Bikini wanted to empower women in addition to appealing to men, they should put a belly dancer behind the counter because they understand and teach the beauty of each woman’s femininity, no matter what size she is.

The customer service was the strongest quality of this coffee stop. I appreciated the barista’s warm personality because I really don’t see that in a lot of places anymore. However, due to my reasons stated above, I probably will not go back anytime soon. But then again, I’m a woman.

Copper Star Coffee Review

Life is an extreme sport. If you can find a place where you feel welcomed, comfortable, and can enjoy a nice cup of coffee, consider yourself fortunate.

Copper Star Coffee is not in my neck of the woods, but I’ve never minded making the trek out there to meet up with friends or just to bring my work down there so I can appreciate a change of scenery. Nestled among the vintage stores along 7th Ave in the Woodlea Historic District, Copper Star is a cozy coffee shop, which offers tea, lunch items, baked goods, and of course, coffee. Since being introduced to the coffee house by a friend of mine back in 2013, I’ve had the opportunity to try many of their specialties. I especially like to get their iced tea during the summer months, but I’m also a big fan of their coffee. Their latte is my personal favorite. There is no waving the bean (a phrase I’m apt to use when the coffee tastes weak) at this joint. Their pastries are also delicious, and recently I’ve noticed they’ve even included some gluten free selections.

While Copper Star is small, there are plenty of comfortable places to sit. I don’t feel crowded when I bring my laptop to do work. The ambiance to me feels like a combination of urban and chill. It’s nice that they play music, but that the music isn’t so loud that it’s distracting. And not to ruin anyone’s appetite, but the bathrooms are remarkably clean. The parking lot is small, and when I say small I mean 2 spots, so street parking is the norm here. However, I’ve never had any issues parking along the streets. Just be sure not to park too close to the stop signs.

One thing that I really want to note here is the customer service. Every time I’ve gone to this shop the baristas have been warm and friendly. Good customer service should be the norm, but unfortunately it is not, and this is one of the reasons why Copper Star is one of my “go to” for coffee houses.

Since this blog is about reviewing the coffee shop experience as well as the coffee, I want to insert a thought about the community aspect of Copper Star. In addition to exhibiting art from local artists, they also have live music. I’m a musician and a photographer and one of the issues that many of my artist friends talk about is the lack of community in the arts. There are a ton of talented artists, but there is very little support out there. I realize a coffee shop isn’t set up a for a full rock band, but I like that Copper Star offers a space for musicians to showcase their music. I’ve always viewed coffee shops as a place to exchange ideas, meet new people, network, or to just feel connected to the community.

Being a caffeine addict, it’s safe to say that I’ve been to a lot of coffee shops, and I already know how this place compares to most. I give this place 5/5 beans because their menu and customer service are equally strong. It’s definitely worth the jaunt. And, if you don’t feel like hanging out, they offer drive through services. You won’t be disappointed, and, when you’re down there, try checking out the vintage and antique stores.

Lux Coffee Review

Lux has to be the hottest hot spot I’ve ever reviewed. It doesn’t seem to matter what day or time I go to this place. They are always busy. It’s not hard to see why. Their menu is extensive and besides offering good coffee, they have breakfast, lunch, and dinner selections, baked goods, and even beer, wine, and cocktails. They are one of the few places that are open late at night. During the weekends, Lux keeps their doors open until 2AM.

Located on Central Avenue, between Camelback and Indian School, Lux is a hub for coffee dates, schoolwork, and business meetings. The inside of the café is made up of multiple smaller rooms, which all have a rustic European feel. The layout doesn’t necessarily flow and the stacks of supplies in the adjoining hallways sometimes feel chaotic, but the overall feel of the café is generally cozy. Plus, there’s plenty of outdoor seating.

During their peak hours, Lux can feel overwhelming. I don’t have a problem standing in line, but trying to maneuver through people and trying to figure out if people are in line or just waiting is not fun. However, once I do find a cozy table in the corner, it’s a great experience. I love bringing my work to Lux because I like the background noise, and I enjoy people watching. Also, everything Lux serves is high quality and delicious. I haven’t been disappointed once. In fact, my mother loves their crumb cake so much that she occasionally guilt trips me into going to Lux just for the cake.

The only other weakness about Lux is their parking. They do have a small parking lot and street parking, but, when it gets busy, even street parking gets limited.

Because I really like the coffee and atmosphere at Lux, I’ve learned to go when I know it’s not their busiest time. I’ve noticed that Meetup groups have met at Lux, which shows that it is an environment that encourages some sense of community. Lux attracts customers of all different ages and backgrounds. Most of my readers have probably already heard of and have been to Lux. For those of you who haven’t been to this coffeehouse, I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s one of those few places where you can go by yourself and not feel weird about it because you’re not the only one. There’s something for everyone at Lux.