Fair Trade Cafe: integrating coffee and art ‘with a conscience’

Have you ever wondered where your coffee comes from? Do you know if the farmers cultivating your espresso beans are given adequate working conditions and decent wages? At Fair Trade Cafe, they take that sort of thing seriously. Located on Central and Roosevelt, in front of the light rail, Fair Trade opened about five years ago and has remained loyal to its founding values.

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Top left: The outside view of Fair Trade Cafe, found on Central and Roosevelt. Top right and bottom: Inside views of the coffee shop.

“The scope of the cafe is found right in its name,” barista Beau Feger-Owsley said. “It’s a company that makes fair trades to ensure that workers get paid well and that all of our coffee is locally roasted so customers know exactly where their product is coming from.”

Fair Trade’s ideology is advertised in their motto as well. The idea behind “Coffee with a Conscience” is displayed on their home page, http://www.azfairtrade.com, and there’s also a wall dedicated to the painting of the slogan right when you walk into the cafe.

Aside from their commitment to sell only fairly-traded products in their store, a number of other things set this cafe apart from others. Not only do they serve coffee and provide free Wi-Fi, their menu ranges from pastries and freshly-made sandwiches to smoothies, teas and even an ice-cream bar.

My friend got the original hummus and vegetable plate, and we both enjoyed iced Americanos. (photographed below) Both items were delicious!

The cafe also hosts special events such as independent movie premieres and shows by local bands. It stays open during First Friday art walks and since it includes an art gallery, it attracts people especially on those nights, according to Feger-Owsley. When asked about all the art hung up around the cafe that is available for purchase, he explained that Fair Trade is also a company that supports artists and their work.

“Art’s good,” Feger-Owsley replied. “It’s good for a city, and it’s good for people to be expressive. Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that? It makes the shop look cool too.”

The coffee house is open until 10 p.m. every night and is just a light rail stop away from ASU downtown, but the walk there isn’t too bad if you choose that mode of transportation instead. There’s also another Fair Trade Cafe located in Civic Space Park right next to the downtown campus; however, its times vary and they don’t stay open after 7 p.m. The atmosphere and menu in both locations is quite similar though, there’s just more of a variety of customers at the Roosevelt one from what I’ve experienced.

Downtown ASU professor, Rosemarie Dombrowski, goes to the Civic Space Park location almost weekly. I first heard of the cafe when she suggested we meet there to go over one of my English papers last year, and it was obvious she was enthralled by it.

“I love the underground entrance, the patio and the water feature,” she said. “It’s visually interesting and has a relaxing, intellectually stimulating feel. They also have the best vegan cookies and donuts!”

The “Coffee with a Conscience” motto blended together with the artwork also keeps Dombrowski a Fair Trade regular. She wishes that “every business operated on that principle,” but feels that downtown Phoenix does a good job of mixing art into our everyday lives otherwise.

Finally, when asked to explain her absolute favorite thing about the coffee shop, Dombrowski stated it was their products and seating.

“The former are fresh, healthy, delicious and ethical,” she explained. “The latter is comfortable, fosters discussion and provides excellent spaces for workshops. I suppose that combination of elements coupled with art is very ‘college.'”

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Top: Some of the artwork displayed and available for purchase in the cafe. Bottom: The wall depicting Fair Trade’s motto, “Coffee with a Conscience.”

Local coffee shop links students to art, especially on First Fridays.

Jobot Coffee Shop on September’s First Friday.

A coffee bar that was previously found in Conspire Cafe and Boutique, is now at its own location and thriving off the business of college students. Located on 5th street, Jobot offers downtown Phoenix a coffeehouse with a creative edge, blending together art and coffee.

“We’re not your average cafe,” Jobot barista Robert Zunigha stated. “We offer the kind of environment that attracts college kids.”

If you’ve never been there, you might be asking yourself, What sort of environment is he talking about? An “ambiance made up of a mixture of art, music and awesome coffee and crepes” of course. The fact that they offer free wi-fi and are open until midnight every day of the week adds to the appeal, according to Zunigha, who has been employed there for a few months now.

Lily Reynolds, an ASU student, first heard about Jobot when she was a freshman living at the downtown campus.

“We had no idea what to do down here and heard some other kids talking about an edgy coffee shop that’s open late on the weekends,” she said. “So we decided to check it out.”

Reynolds also pointed out that Jobot isn’t your “run-of-the-mill coffee bar” by any means. “Everyone I know who goes there for the first time either loves it or hates it.”

The bookshelf of weird doll figures and art hanging on the wall, the mismatched doors and seats, and the loud music are enough to scare customers away or give them a coffee shop experience unlike any other.

“It’s difficult to find things to do here because some of the best places to hangout downtown are hidden treasures, like Jobot,” Reynolds explained. “But it’s a great place to chill with friends after a night out or somewhere to go other than your dorm when you need to stay up late to write a paper.”

Jobot is especially packed on First Friday, which is an art walk held on the first Friday of every month.

“First Fridays are our most busy days from what I’ve encountered working here so far,” Zunigha said. “I still see a lot of students which doesn’t surprise me. The creative environment we’re known for goes hand in hand with the art walk.”

Zunigha previously worked at various art galleries around the area, so he’s experienced the First Friday crowds for years now.

“Working those shifts is so different now than when I was first hired in the downtown area,” he stated. “It just exploded about 3 or 4 years ago and I’m sure ASU’s downtown campus had a lot to do with that.”

Ditching their laptops and textbooks, students can be seen with groups of friends in a line out the door on these Friday nights.

“[Jobot] has a completely different vibe on First Fridays,” Reynolds explained. “It goes from being cool and calm to a crazy and crowded lounge environment, with giant speakers blasting music and a quirky cluster of other First Friday goers.”

Students who appreciate the art of the coffee shop or just crave a cup of Cartel Coffee Lab roast continue to expand its business.

“I think it’s great that Jobot connects people to art in such an interesting way,” Reynolds added. “And I love their iced mocha. It’s the only place I’ll ever order that!”

For Jobot’s full menu and contact information, click here: http://jobot-coffee.com/