A review of my favorite coffee shops in downtown Phoenix

Throughout the course of this semester, I’ve written articles about five amazing coffee shops in the downtown Phoenix area. Equipped with caffeine and free WiFi, they’re all ideal places for ASU students to visit; however, each cafe is unique and creative in its own way. They all showcase and sell art in addition to typical coffeehouse items. All five are open on First Friday too, which is when they are the busiest. Since this blog is coming to an end, I’m going to review my favorite cafes under certain categories listed below. For each one, I’ve chosen my top three contenders.

To refresh your memory, these are the five places I’ve covered in this blog (you can click on the name to take you back to each blog post):

Category 1: BEST COFFEE

  1. Jobot – It’s totally worth waiting 45 minutes in line just to order a toddy coffee or iced mocha from here, which is what my friends and I do every First Friday. It’s just really great coffee. Period.
  2. Squash Blossom – Candy corn and peppermint pattie lattes, and other seasonal drinks that are new every month and crafted to perfection. Need I say more?
  3. 8th Day – Not only is their coffee community traded so you know you’re making a difference with each purchase, but their iced drinks are served in mason jars! It makes your cup of coffee that much better.

Category 2: BEST PLACE TO STUDY

  1. 8th Day – There are several couches accompanied by lots of natural light coming in through the numerous windows all over the cafe, and study groups can meet in their conference room. It’s a spacious coffeehouse with different seating areas and there are huge tables so you can layout all of your work. It’s comfortable, convenient and quiet.
  2. Fair Trade – At both locations, there’s a wide variety of commodious seating ranging from sofas to cushioned wooden benches. It’s also peaceful and spacious like 8th Day. When you have a lot to get done, I would recommend either place.
  3. Songbird – This cafe is significantly smaller, but the long tables with outlets are efficient for students looking to charge their devices while completing homework or writing a paper. There’s a huge bookcase that makes you feel like you’re in a super cool, hipster library too. You can check out thier range of novels on your study break.

Category 3: BEST PLACE TO ADMIRE/PURCHASE ARTWORK

  1. 8th Day – There’s a wonderful assortment of artwork here. There’s huge pieces like a painted door and sculptures near the back wall, but there’s also oil paintings and drawings too. Since it’s found in all shapes and sizes all around the cafe, I guarantee it is not a boring place to visit. You can check out their monthly art gallery premieres every First Friday if you’re interested in that as well.
  2. Songbird – Part of an ongoing art exhibit, it’s located inside the MonOrchid building in the heart of the Roosevelt Row art districts. Their Scrabble-inspired menu is a work of art in itself. There’s obviously other great pieces of art on their walls, but if none of it catches your attention then I’m sure something inside the MonOrchid will.
  3. Fair Trade – There’s a perfect balance of framed photographs and paintings here. I appreciate that it’s not overbearing or distracting, and it tastefully integrates coffee with art.

Category 4: BEST PLACE TO HANGOUT

  1. Squash Blossom – Because it’s also a restaurant, this place is ideal for hanging out with friends. Everything on the menu is fresh, tasty and relatively cheap. It’s perfect for a lunch date with classmates and the 10% ASU discount makes it that much better. The staff is super friendly and the music selection is exquisite. If you haven’t tried it yet, you must do so immediately. Your friends will love you for bringing them there!
  2. Jobot – It’s open until midnight, so take a break from your schoolwork and grab a cup of coffee with your friends after dinner. The lounge environment and loud music provide an excellent escape from your daily routine.
  3. Songbird –  What makes Songbird different from the other cafes is the fact that the owners will sit down with you and get to know you. If they’re not behind the counter making coffee, then they’re probably making conversation with their customers. They love getting to know people and keeping in touch on social media. Check it out!

As I previously stated, each place is unique in its own way and there’s a cafe out there for everyone. I recommend visiting all of them in order to determine which one best suits your preferences. Downtown Phoenix is overflowing with coffee shops and places filled with art, so go out and try something new.

Locals flock to Songbird Coffee & Tea House

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Songbird Coffee & Tea House, located on Roosevelt Row inside the MonOrchird.

Although it just opened four months ago inside the MonOrchid Building, Songbird Coffee & Tea House has proved to be a real hot spot in downtown Phoenix. My friends and I often pass the cafe located at 214 E. Roosevelt St. on First Friday or when we’re driving out of downtown; however, we never went inside until about a week ago. This probably goes without saying, but I loved it. I also got to sit down with one of the owners and learn all about the cafe on Monday.

Erin Carroll, 30, and her husband are the founders and managers of Songbird. Carroll had always dreamed of owning a cafe.

“I love coffee houses,” she explained. “I was in a job that I didn’t like and then my husband lost his job, so it made sense to start our own business. It took a lot of planning though, and it was over a couple of years in the works.”

Songbird features locally roasted coffee and pastries, tea from Tucson and a local burrito chef. They also offer a handful of vegan options and specialty drinks such as an espresso spritzer, which is kind of like a carbonated coffee drink. Their full menu can be found online at songbirdcoffeehouse.com.

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Songbird’s bright menu made of Scrabble letters adds to the arty vibe of the coffeehouse.

“We like having that connection to our products because we want to know who it’s coming from and have a relationship with them,” she said. “We also think supporting local products is a good thing to do.”

The coffee shop also strives to provide a comfortable atmosphere for its customers, according to Carroll who said she and her husband want people to stay and socialize, not just grab something and run out the door.

“We want to be a part of the community and offer a space for somebody to just come and get some work done or meet up with people over a cup of coffee,” she added.

The variety of free events they host and the art they showcase helps Songbird integrate itself into the community and is perfectly positioned on Roosevelt Row Arts District.

“We’ve done poetry readings, acoustic shows, storytelling and we even had a live rock concert last weekend,” she said.

“We want to give artists a place to show off their work and it’s nice to have rotating art in here,” Carroll said about the art on the wall that’s up for sale. “I think it’s important to keep art alive in the community because it gives people a purpose. And it’s a good way to connect to people.”

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One of the walls of the coffeehouse dedicated to showcasing and selling local artists’ work.

Since they are closed on Sundays and their hours are usually from 7 am to 7 pm, the majority of Songbird’s customers are young professionals and independent workers, but they are hoping to appeal to a wider range of people as well.

“There are a lot of really good cafes downtown, but what sets us apart is the relationships that we build with people since we’re so small,” Carroll said. “We also offer free Wi-Fi and would love for more students to come visit.”

Sophomore Regina Fanty, a student at Arizona State University, saw the cafe’s sign while they were still working on it and was intrigued by it, so she made sure to stop by once they opened.

“I love a good coffee shop,” Fanty explained. “It’s very quaint, and I love all the colors and the set up.”

Although there are many things that Fanty says attracted her to the cafe, she is a big fan of the “eclectic collection of books they have lining the walls for customers to read” and the menu made out of scrabble letters.

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Two shots of the cafe’s bookcase, featuring a tribute to ASU. Go Sun Devils!

“I would definitely recommend it to other college kids,” she said. “Their coffee was delicious, it was also relatively quiet and easy to focus.”

While she hasn’t attended one of their events yet, she “most certainly” would like to go to one in the future. Fanty also expressed her appreciation for the art on the wall, saying she loves discovering new artists and Songbird is “a great place to do so.”

In order to better connect with people, Songbird is very active on Twitter and Facebook as well. They constantly post information about upcoming events and tons of discounts, like 75 cents off a drink or a dollar off burritos.

“I had no idea they posted deals to their Twitter,” Fanty said. “I am going to follow them right this second!”
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Songbird offers a quaint environment for studying, conversing, admiring art or just purchasing a great cup of coffee and pastry.