When Mike and I travel to Phoenix for work, we make it a part of our routine to visit Royal Coffee Bar in the Biltmore Fashion Park before work in the morning. That leaves time at lunch or on the way home to explore other cafes. One such cafe was Hava Java, which is opposite of our way home, but just a block west of Royal. We only trade a known commodity like Royal for unknown coffee quality so that we can write and podcast about it. Otherwise, we’re creatures of habit that would rather just appreciate how good we have it.
Location. Hava Java is located in the Biltmore Plaza shopping center. It’s a strip mall anchored by Safeway, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. There’s a Starbucks inside the Safeway, but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on Hava Java. Hava won coffee awards in 2013, and attracts a wide variety of Phoenicians. One group of teenagers showed up in an old VW that I just had to get a picture of as we were leaving.
Service. The eclectic group of customers are attracted to the fantastic service Hava Java provides. It’s easy to tell why people keep coming back. Our barista was fun, engaging, and quick about her duties. Though she did forget another customer’s scones, she was perfect for us. She acknowledged people in line and was willing to talk about the coffee.
Coffee. Alas, the coffee was where Hava Java fell extremely short. I asked what makes their coffee “gourmet” as advertised on their menu. The answer was nothing. The barista said it’s just regular coffee. Hava is a solid second wave shop that focuses on espresso based beverages that are made extremely fast and extremely poorly.
Mike chose a frozen, blended mocha beverage and I chose a hot mocha. After Mike ordered, the barista turned to the back counter and reappeared ten seconds later with his drink. That was fast. The reason it was so fast is that the frappe came from a machine that had the beverage pre-mixed and revolting (I mean revolving) inside. It was terrible. he said it tasted like a weakly coffee flavored milkshake that lacked proper milkshake consistency. Mike didn’t finish it.
My drink took a little longer to make, but it was still a hot mess. The barista put a pitcher of milk under the steam wand and just let it go. While she was getting the scones for the previously forgotten customer, the milk was boiling over, splashing everywhere, and making a terrible mess. She came back to it like this was the norm, and finished off the drink. It was terrible. It tasted nothing like coffee, but just burnt chocolate milk. I couldn’t finish it.
Conclusion. Well, the barista was nice, the service was great, and we had some pastries that were decent. The coffee was terrible in every way imaginable. We couldn’t recommend Hava Java to you, especially with Royal just down the road. This was one of those rare times when I probably just should’ve gone into Safeway and had me some Starbucks.