I worked across the street from Elevate Coffee Company in North Phoenix for about a year. My work campus was so big that you could spend your entire lunch break crossing the street an waiting in line for coffee. Or, you could stay on campus, go to the Starbucks on location, and save yourself half your break. I would do the latter. Since leaving that company, I’ve stopped at Elevate many times on my drive home from our family adventures or appointments all over Phoenix. But lately I’ve stopped. And it’s pretty much for the same reason that I chose to go to Starbucks at work and save myself the time from crossing the street. The coffee, while set up to be special, is merely okay.
Location. If you check out Elevate’s site on how and why they got started, you’ll run into a surprising amount of Corporate-speak for an independent cafe and roaster. The nebulous entity claims a group of professionals and volunteers opened a cafe where “people of all ages could gather to be inspired.” This opening took place under the training of an unnamed, leading coffee company from Seattle (oooh, Seattle), and donates $0.10 of every purchase to clean water in Africa. I’ve been in the shop many times and never heard anything about my purchase helping kids in Africa. But check their link for more.
The space itself is set up for music and comedy performances, work meetings, and local artwork display. The few times I’ve heard live music inside Elevate, it’s been great. When they display artwork from local schools, it’s terrific as well. And no matter how busy it gets, there’s always a place to sit, relax, and drink some coffee. The best part of their location, I think, is the roaster that sits inside the cafe. You can check out the green beans, newly roasted beans, and know that the coffee you’re drinking was roasted right there. It’s pretty cool. The worst part of their location is only bad if you’re in a hurry. Since they’re in an outdoor strip mall, you have to park in the usually packed lot and walk a short ways to get to them. And again, it’s only bad if you’re in a hurry. If you’re not, then it’s nice to stretch your legs on your way to pick up a cup.
Service. I’ve never had bad service at Elevate. The baristas and servers don’t usually know anything about the coffee they serve or sell (especially the whole bean roasted on location), but they are always friendly. They’re willing to talk about the drinks they serve, the food they serve, and the exceptionally tasty scones.
Coffee. Their coffee is usually a solid second wave product. But my last few trips, the espresso was so poor, that I just skipped stopping altogether. It just wasn’t worth the parking, walking, and money expenditures to have sub-par espresso. Sure, you can hide it in behind milk and syrups, but it’s still there- lurking in every sip of your mocha and ready to slap your face if you get a shot of espresso. Since I’m stopping in the evening, maybe it’s just the evening crew that struggle to dial in the espresso. I’m not sure. But you won’t find pour-overs or blueberries to the face here.
And if that’s not what you’re looking for, then stop in, enjoy the ambience, the live music in the evening, or the great service and delicious scones.