When it comes to the world of coffee, Arizona is quietly becoming a powerhouse of high-quality and surprising coffee experiences. Recently, I embarked on a coffee journey through Phoenix, Tucson and surrounding areas. I discovered a wealth of exceptional roasters and passionate coffee enthusiasts.

People gathered at Mythical Coffee for the Genuine Origin coffee cupping

Cyndi introducing the coffees on the table – Pic – Thomas Plets

Diverse Coffee Offerings

One of the most striking aspects of this coffee expedition was the abundance of high-end coffees available. From specialty blends to single-origin gems, the options seemed endless. The only challenge was time – with so many awesome roasters to explore, it felt like I could have spent days sipping my way through the local coffee scene.

Dani & Evan, HG Coffee

Dani & Evan, HG Coffee

Phoenix: A Hub of Specialty Coffee

The coffee culture in Phoenix and its surrounding areas is thriving, with locals fully embracing the world of specialty coffee.

Blue Voodoo Coffee Truck - Repurposed van from 1957

Blue Voodoo Coffee Truck – Repurposed van from 1957

I visited Pair Cupworks, a rising star on the coffee scene. They served up a brain-melting cup of Nitro Caturra (one of my favorite GO micros) that left a lasting impression. Meanwhile, great coffees has allowed businesses to flourish and expand. I spoke with HG Coffee, which has become a beacon of high-quality coffee for the community in their small dessert-town. Hanging out with Chris at EXO Roasting was like stepping into a carefully curated collage of style. While at EXO, I had a wonderful cup of Mexico Los Altos Tzeltal Washed. I tend to love coffees from Mexico. They are easy to drink and well-balanced and this one did not disappoint. The brew offered a creamy, chocolaty body, brown sugar sweetness & a pronounced, but balanced, tart acidity.

Chris & Cyndi at Exo Roast with Probat Roaster

Chris & Cyndi at Exo Roast

Venturing to Tucson

After the cupping I drove from Phoenix to Tucson for the next leg of my AZ tour. My first time in Tucson, the city had a vibe reminiscent of a journey through old Mexico. Vintage buildings and a rich cultural landscape set the backdrop for my exploration of local coffee gems.

Chris & Cyndi at Exo Roast with Probat Roaster

Chris & Cyndi at Exo Roast

Cupping Adventures

My public cupping session at Mythical played a pivotal role in this coffee odyssey. Thanks to the expertise of Eric and Kat at Mythical Coffee – my super-hosts, who did all the pouring and ensured smooth operations for the cupping – the experience was both educational and enjoyable.

The cupping enabled me to meet a lot of roasters, cafe owners, and local coffee people. We took our time exploring the coffees from a sensory perspective and discussed the backgrounds, farms, processing and people involved in making these coffees possible. It was a great opportunity to build relationships and share in the passion for coffee.

Cupping coffee with Cyndi at Mythical Coffee

Cupping coffee – “The Break” with Cyndi at Mythical Coffee – Pic: Thomas Plets

Hits from the table:

  • Peru Wilder Garcia – this coffee was like a warm hug with its rich body, flavors of dark chocolate, caramel, brown spice and hints of grape and black cherry
  • Nicaragua La Bastilla Geisha Washed– one of my favorites coffees of 2023! With its heavy body and bright acidity, it popped on the cupping table. Flavor notes of bergamot, jasmine, plum and red currant were swirling around the room.  I also drank a cup of this coffee at Pair’s location inside of Little Jupiter Café in Gilbert, AZ.  It was one of the best cups I had the entire trip!
  • EA Decaf Colombia– people were pleasantly surprised with this coffee.  A well-rounded cup, balanced and sweet. Everyone was like, “This is DECAF?!?!”
  • Colombia Finca Milan Culturing Nitro Fermentation Caturra– OK, WOW! This coffee blew our minds collectively!  Watermelon jolly rancher, sweet honey, sparkling lemon & lime.  This was probably the favorite coffee on the table.  I also drank an espresso of this coffee at Spce Coffee (pronounced Space). I haven’t had an espresso that good in quite some time. Perfectly dialed in and roasted by Pair. Andy at Spce is still getting his roaster hooked up, but is a coffee company to watch as an upcoming roaster in the Phoenix area.
Dan from Filthy Pirate Coffee

Dan from Filthy Pirate Coffee

Next stops

Next, I hope to hit Florida, Tennessee and Texas. The GO Tour will put me in touch with coffee people where they are and experiencing the diverse coffee cultures each region has to offer.

Cortez Coffee Roasters

Patrick & Liz – Cortez Coffee Roasters

In the end, my Arizona coffee adventure was more than just a caffeine-fueled road trip; it was a celebration of craftsmanship, community, and the shared love for the perfect cup of coffee. Next time, I’ll have to stay longer!