I took a little trip to Scottsdale last week. On my first morning there, I woke up and went to grab a quick cup of coffee before taking care of some work. Wandered into the nearest little cafe and ordered an americano before I even realized that the joint proudly brewed Starbucks.
I know. I tried, for a long time, not to become a coffee snob, but there are some experiences in life that are so easily elevated with a little added effort and knowledge. Coffee is one of those experiences. Plus, it’s an affordable luxury—or at least that’s what I tell myself when I justify spending $19 on a bag of beans when there are plenty of $7 bags lining the shelves of every grocery store. (More on this in a later post.)
On my second morning there, I was determined to fuel myself with quality brew. So I went with a local’s suggestion and headed to Cartel Coffee Lab in Old Town Scottsdale. It was a caffeinated dream come true. It’s a little contemporary anomaly in this quintessentially Western square; even though it’s got free Wi-Fi and tables fit for college kids, the shop is still small enough not to encourage too many laptop-weilding customers (I’m not hating; I’m totally one of them normally), and the menu was a sight for sore, Starbucks-infected eyes. Aeropress, V60, clever dripper, Chemex—be still, my heart.
I chatted with Dustin (pictured, white hat) for a bit about local coffee culture, which he said is growing in the Phoenix area. He also gave a little shout-out to Costa Mesa’s own Portola Coffee Lab, his wife’s favorite coffee spot when she’s in SoCal. (Represent.)
The baked goods were also on point—something that shouldn’t be taken for granted in a coffeehouse.
Tools of the trade.
Oh, and they also serve beer and wine. It doesn’t get much better. Thanks for the hospitality and great coffee, Cartel.
If you ever find yourself in the area:
Cartel Coffee Lab
7124 E 5th Ave
Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251