Tag: #latte
Palio Coffee Shop

I love Las Vegas, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all the action. In the city that never sleeps, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to chill unless you go back to your hotel room. Since Las Vegas is a tourist attraction, of course my expectations for coffee shops is different than say in my hometown of Phoenix. However, seeing how Las Vegas is a hub for extravagant shows and one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, I could see someone establishing a coffee shop that had a cool twist or a novel idea. I think this would definitely appeal to visitors because at some point you want to sit down and relax and escape the incessant crowds.


But while we wait for that coffee shop to appear, there’s a cozy and delicious coffee shop called Palio, which is tucked away in the Bellagio Hotel. I actually stumbled on this establishment by accident because I made a wrong turn and found myself wandering through the shops and small eateries. Styled in the fashion of a Tudor-like cafe, Palio offers amazing coffee drinks and tasty treats, such as muffins, pastries, and sandwiches. My friend and I enjoyed huge mugs of some of the most incredible lattes and chilled for a couple of hours. The coffee shop offers beautiful views of the pool area, so it’s a also nice spot to people watch. Considering the fact that most things are more expensive in Vegas, I thought the prices on the menu were reasonable. The portions are generous, so you don’t feel cheated, and the customer service is more than satisfactory.


I was very impressed with Palio, and it was so nice to be able to sit down and not worry about watching the clock or navigating crowds. To be honest, I think most people are unaware of this gem, but if you ever find yourself near the Bellagio and you want a place to sit and relax check out Palio. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. 

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.

Thanks A Latte Coffee Shop Review

I’m currently working on a book that involves me visiting antique stores throughout the valley. One afternoon, my friend and I went up to Camp Verde to rummage through their antique stores. Sweet Pea Antiques and Ruby Road Resale Road, by the way, offer some awesome finds. I found a couple of beautiful glassware pieces that you would have to spend a fortune on if you found them anywhere else.

Camp Verde has a chill feel, much like Flagstaff. In many ways, this town is a throwback to a time before social media and technology made so many of our connections virtual. I didn’t see so many people glued to their phones. People greeted me, when I walked into the stores. I didn’t feel invisible, which was nice. Plus, since it’s north of Phoenix, the temperature wasn’t quite as hot, which was also a bonus.

Before heading back to Phoenix, we decided to stop for coffee. Nothing like a dose of caffeine before you head into rush hour traffic, right? About a 10 minute drive from the antique stores, right on Main Street, was a small “mom and pop” coffee shop called Thanks A Latte. As soon as we walked in the door, the owner of the shop welcomed us. One of the first things I noticed was their vast menu selection. In addition, to offering coffee drinks like lattes, macchiatos, and cappuccinos, they also had a good selection of breakfast and lunch specials as well as non-coffee beverages like chai lattes, hot chocolate, and smoothies. As usual, I ordered a latte and a gluten free brownie and a coffee cake for my mother. Of all the things we ordered, the coffee cake was the best. I don’t typically eat coffee cake, but I did try a bite before I gave it to my mother (something I would only do with my mother). The latte was good, but I couldn’t eat the gluten free brownie. When I first went gluten free, I remember experiencing baked goods that had this peculiar taste. Not being someone who cooks or bakes anything more complicated than an omelet or rice, I can’t say for sure what that taste is. The adjective that comes to mind, however, is gritty. The owner mentioned that the recipe was something that he had created. Most likely it’s an ingredient or two that is the culprit, but since the coffee cake was really good, I think there is hope for the shop’s gluten free selections.

So far this coffee shop was the most physically comfortable. The seats were plush and it was well lit without it losing its coziness. What I found particularly interesting about this coffee shop was that I read on their website that they have special events like open mic, concerts, and workshops for musicians. However, the thing that really caught my attention is that every last Monday of the month you can enjoy a cup of coffee with a cop. Why do I think this is significant? No matter what field you’re in there are going to be good people and bad people. Yet, when we have bad experiences or we hear stories on the news, we begin to draw associations. It’s part of human nature. I think it’s great that this coffee shop gives people in the community a chance to connect with each other.

Of all the coffee shops, Thanks a Latte comes the closest to what I would like to see in a coffee shop. I realize that many people go to cafes to work or to meet up with their friends. However, I really like the idea of coffee shops providing a space for people to feel a sense of community and be exposed to things, which they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.

I give this coffee shop a 5/5. Despite the fact that the gluten free brownie wasn’t so great, everything else was exceptional. Plus, I respect what this shop is providing it’s customers and community. I hope other coffee shops will follow their lead.

Annex Cocktail Lounge Review

In June, my friend and I drove up to Flagstaff to get a reprieve from the heat. It had been many years since I got to spend much time up north, and Flagstaff is a great city to check out if you haven’t done so already. It’s a college town, home to Northern Arizona University. I’ve always loved the vibe of this city because it’s a cool mixture of old and new architecture with a ton of greenery and nature to admire. Living in the desert for as long as I have, you really do appreciate the smell of pine trees. Lush greenery of any sort is a novelty in Phoenix.

One of the things that I did notice, however, was that there weren’t many coffee shops near the university. In fact, I was a little surprised at the number of stores that were closed or going out of business. The area is still worth checking out, but I was sad to see some of my favorite boutiques go out of business. Getting back to the coffee however, there was Starbucks, but I was looking for a coffee shop unique to the area. At one point, my friend and I decided to cross the train tracks. I was determined to find a coffee shop to review. One of the first places we stumbled upon was Annex. Technically, this place is a cocktail lounge and eatery, but it did have a full coffee bar and so I’m making an exception here.

The inside of the building was spacious, with clean lines, minimalist style furniture, and an industrial feel that still felt inviting. The layout was also intelligent. There was plenty of seating without feeling crowded. The only comment I could add about the seating is that if you sit at the stainless steel tables with the attached metal stools, your bum is probably going to hurt after a while. Mine did. Fortunately, there are other places to sit, so if you intend to hang out, choose something with some padding. My friend and I both ordered lattes and chocolate peanut butter cups. The lattes, which were served in oversized white saucers, were exceptional and the peanut butter cups were good as well. Just before I left, I bought my mother a raspberry pastry, which she said was very good even though she’s not the biggest fan of fruity pastries. The prices were reasonable and pretty typical of most coffee shops. The portion sizes were more than generous.

Every one who worked there was very kind and professional. My friend and I felt extremely relaxed spending time in the cafe. Since it was late in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner, there weren’t a lot of people, but I’m curious to know what it’s like during the afternoon and evening rush. Though I didn’t have the opportunity to check out their lunch/dinner menu, I think I can say with some confidence that they probably serve a good meal. Though there are more coffee shops in the area, Annex is a good place to visit. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to check out this part of Downtown Flagstaff (also referred to as the Railroad District) that’s on the other side of the train tracks. I’ve always either went hiking or hung out near the university. In addition to finding Annex, however, I saw that this was the place where people hang out. There were coffee shops, boutiques, and thrift stores. The feel of this area was completely laid back, and in some ways reminded me of Tempe, with its combination of industrial and bungalow style construction.

I love Flagstaff because there is so much to do there and the weather is considerably nicer than in Phoenix. I highly recommend Annex as a place to stop for coffee, drinks, or food. It was so good, that if I weren’t running a blog about coffee shops, I would return to this café in a heart beat. However, considering all the cool places to try, I will hopefully return with another review of a cool coffee shop from Flagstaff. Cheers, Annex. You deserve it. Bean count: 8/10