10 places to get coffee or dessert in Central Phoenix

A follow-up to my 10 places to eat in Central Phoenix, this post should give you a place to start if you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth or jolt your mid-afternoon fade. As with the eateries post, most of these are locally-owned and not chains (which is more personal preference than anything else).

1. Lux – I love Lux!  Definitely not the spot for a meeting though. Lux is loud and trendy.  Yet, they roast their own beans and make their own whipcream – both are off the charts good.  I recommend an iced velvet and brioche for every newbie.  I typically get iced coffee and throw on my headphones to knock out some projects.  They have a live DJ on Friday mornings.  Be warned – MacBooks, iPhones, Moleskines and their hipster owners abound here!  But if you are looking to be productive or just want a really good coffee, this is a great option.  Lux is on Central Ave, just south of Campbell and right across from Central High School.

2. Copper Star Coffee - My wife and I have done weekly breakfast times at Copper Star off and on for at least six years.  We love Bill (owner) and the more relaxed environment here.  Less than a mile from Lux, they are worlds apart.  I prefer the coffee at Lux, but something about Copper Star keeps us coming back.  Their giant iced tea with free refills is great for the summer!  Copper Star Coffee is located in the Melrose District on 7th Avenue, between Campbell and Indian School.

3. Lola Coffee – Lola was opened by the guy who originally opened Lux, so the similarities become very obvious with this in mind.  They roast their own beans and those beans are among the best in Phoenix. They have locations in the Historic Gold Spot at 3rd Avenue and Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix. They’ve also got a spot in Terminal 4 of Sky Harbor Airport.

4. Urban Beans – A relatively hidden place, Urban Beans is the creation of a couple of architects who decided they didn’t want to have to leave their office to get good coffee.  UB has a great offering of pastries and their iced coffee has 50 cent refills.  Rarely crowded, this a place to check out if you want some uninterrupted productivity or conversation.  Urban Beans is on 7th Street, just north of Osborn.

5. Mojo – Oh Mojo.  The self-serve froyo craze (frozen yogurt, for the uninitiated) began at Pinkberry in LA and has exploded all over.  Mojo moved to Phoenix last year and Dani and I were bitten by the bug.  We love to head to Mojo and play some Scrabble while we eat some Original Tart with fruit.  We also get excited when they cycle in OJ non-dairy.  Mojo has several locations across the Valley, but we frequent the one at the Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback.

6. Cheesecake Factory – CF has been around for a few years. But last year, they launched their Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake.  It was love at first bite for me, and to my glee, they added it to their permanent menu this spring.  You must try it!  Cheesecake Factory is also located at the Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback.

7. Urban Cookies - A favorite of several staff members at North Phoenix, this local cookie shop makes amazing cookies.  And who doesn’t love a cookie and milk?  The owners are amazing and in the summer, they have amazing ice cream sandwiches.  Urban Cookies is located on 7th Street, just south of Camelback.

8. Cartel Coffee Lab – I think Cartel has the best coffee in Phoenix.  Those are big words, but they are really knocking it out of the park, especially with the Iced Toddy.  Their original location opened in Tempe in the summer of 2008, and a downtown Phoenix location opened in 2009.  To my knowledge, they have the only Clover machine in the Valley and their Iced Toddy is amazing!  IMHO, they lack the ambiance of other Central Phoenix spots, but they make up for it in quality. Cartel’s downtown spot can be found at 1st Street and Washington.

9. Cold Stone - Based out of Scottsdale, Cold Stone smells amazing.  While this stuff is not “good for you”, your taste buds make a good argument.  My favorite is Birthday Cake Remix with peanut butter instead of sprinkles.  Dani and I love Arizona Center location where we can go sit in the gardens during the non-summer or hit AMC Theatres for a movie before or after in the summer.  Cold Stone at the Arizona Center is located on 3rd Street and Van Buren.

10. Starbucks – I know.  But I had to put them on there.  A – I was a partner from 2010-2011.  B – I get coffee here multiple times a week, even when I am not working.  Other than my store at 35th and Bethany Home (which I am very proud of), my favorite location is 16th Street and Bethany Home.  Starbucks has been systematically been renovating their stories, increasing seating and adding a community feel.

P.S. – Dutch Bros did not make the list.  I am just not into their coffee – too much milk and sweet stuff.  However, they do have some of the best marketing, social media connections, and HANDS DOWN the most friendly and happy people on their staff.  Their drive-thru location is at Central and Camelback.  I did win a $100 gift certificate during their grand opening last summer, but I just have other preferenes.  To each his own.

P.S.S. – If you are a cupcake person, I suggest three places. 1. Sprinkles – Across from Scottsdale Fashion Center. 2. Urban Cookies – mentioned above. 3. Copper Star – mentioned above as well.

Note: This blog was originaly posted in 2010 and has subsequently been updated.