Coffee Buzz
Starbucks is, well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, I like their coffee. But I have yet to find a Starbucks with any character. If you know where one is, please enlighten me. But for me drinking coffee with friends and family tastes so much better in a coffee house that is comfortable, warm, inviting and relaxed. Below is a short list of three places we enjoy visiting that fit that bill.

1) Village Coffee Roastery
My wife, Kirsten, and I can’t believe we just found this place. We were surprised that we had just found it since because it opened in 1996. Tucked away on the northwest corner of Hayden and Via de Ventura the Village Coffee Roastery is a gem you must experience. We won’t bore you will all of their coffee varieties, but there are many. Go to their website for more information. But they sure do know how to brew a great cup of coffee. And their chai latte is the best we’ve had anywhere. If you’re hungry, they have an excellent breakfast and lunch menu, too. Try The Kraken which is a coffee-braised short rib sandwich that is just delicious. My wife loves their quiche, and if you’re looking for something fun, try their Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast. It’s a throwback to Dr. Seuss and it tastes good, too. One of our favorite things about this place is that it’s not pretentious which is surprising given the upscale shopping center it’s located in. There is also plenty of seating. If you want to study, there’s a table for that. If you want a couch or comfy chair, they have that, too. They even have a bar that you can sit at and watch the barista create their magic. Friendly staff, nice music, and games should you decide to stay a while. Check out their reviews on Yelp! They have a 4.5 out of 5.0!

2) Gold Bar Espresso
I found this place when I first moved to Phoenix in 1994 and have continued to love it ever since. This family-owned joint is everything we look for in a coffee shop…warm, inviting, great food and coffee, and relaxed. From the moment I walk in to this place I feel like I’m at a friend’s house. Charming is probably one of the best words to describe it. Now add to that their game night, live music, interesting artwork, fun vibe, great service, and you have not only a great place to have some coffee, but also your new getaway spot.

3) Sip Coffee & Beer House
Did you say coffee AND beer? Yup, that’s right. And they do both very well. The coffee beans are purchased from a local roaster, and in this ever more global world, it’s nice to see local purchasing. And if you’re not a coffee lover, stop in for one of their 19 craft beer selections. And if you don’t see one you like they have a suggestion wall where you can write down one you’d like to see them carry and they will try to get it. Who does that? Oh, yeah. Companies that care about what their customers think. And if you’re hungry you can try one of their breakfast, salad, sandwich, or snack selections. If you’re trying to go healthy try their hummus veggie sandwich. It’s delicious and healthy all at the same time. And if you like to listen to music as you enjoy your coffee or beer, Sips has an eclectic mix of folk, country, bluegrass, and even hip hop. Great drinks, great food, fun music all in a comfortable coffee shop with lots of seating to gather with friends, or meet new ones. Sip is the scene.

You may have noticed that one of the themes that ran through those three reviews is great service. A restaurant can do everything else right but if they give poor service they will fail. All three of these coffee shops have thrived and great service is one of the reasons why. Now go get your coffee buzz.