A Guide to Tucson Coffee Shops
Originally assuming the form of a coffee cart based at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Presta Coffee Roasters has since established two premier brick-and-mortar Tucson coffee shops. The spacious latter of which features smooth cocoa-colored tones, an occasional pop of powder white or vibrant verdure, and retro-chic furnishings, meanwhile, the more intimately sized first sports a minimalistic all-milky-white ambiance, exclusively directing attention towards the things that truly matter in a cafe – loved ones, community, and brilliantly handcrafted java. There are few places in Arizona, the country even, where one can get their hands on such exceptional Nordic style coffee, which typically encombodies much lighter roasts accompanied by a uniquely elegant serving fashion.
Commonly celebrated for superb cold brews, Caffe Luce (loo-chay) Coffee Roasting Co. is a beloved collection of several locally owned and operated coffee shops spread throughout Tucson. Their two-story downtown house of java exhibits some noteworthy artistic flair, we’re talking hanging wooden-cube light fixtures, massive hand-carved slabs of lumber adorning the walls, and phonograph records making an appearance in the restroom. Clearly, the venue takes on a life of its own, giving credence to the brand’s recognition as both social spark and root in the old pueblo. With this being said, we can’t forget to mention, some locations do offer beer and wine options as well as extensive food menus!
It’s impossible to miss the refreshingly green foliage growing over the top of Raging Sage Coffee Roasters’ adobe roof, what’s equally nature friendly, is the way they go about sustainably sourcing the java beans served inside. This cozy little micro-roastery is committed to providing guests with the finest coffee experience and they have a loyal scone-hungry, highly-caffeinated following to show for it, along with a slew of local awards won year after year. Although indoor seating is limited due to the cafe’s petite proportions, there are all sorts of tables and chairs outside on the more commodious, orange-tree dappled patio.
Collectively speaking, the owners and employees of Exo Roast Co. have decades of experience in the coffee industry. Their expertise is the reason they’ve cultivated meaningful relationships with small producers in Mexico, made most materials used in the gorgeous cafe compostable, and partnered with several non-profits to build equity and work toward social justice and land restoration. The exposed brick wall mural, hardwood flooring, and roomy atmosphere make this vintage java sanctuary a perfect choice for studying. Furthermore, on a more unwinding note, Exo rather excitingly offers a wide selection of mezcal and natural, organic, and bio-dynamic wines.
Black Crown Coffee Company is a cherry red-bricked, stand-alone beacon of java excellence accentuated by its wooden beams and floor-to-ceiling glass storefront. Originally opened to Tucsonans in 2012, this true two-story neighborhood coffee “house” takes quality hand-roasting quite seriously, even making a point to acknowledge the exact coffee beans utilized for your tantalizing cold brew in emailed receipts. Then there are their otherworldly signature drinks like Breast Milk, an iced super sweet vanilla mocha, and the Black Widow, a hazelnut almond mocha.
As a young boy in Istanbul, Savaya Coffee Market owner Burc Maruflu grew up learning coffee from his grandmother, Neriman, an expert connoisseur of the craft. President and founding father of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, frequented her town throughout his legendary life and constantly assured everybody that she indeed brewed the best coffee he had ever had. But java has even deeper roots in the family, as Burc’s many-times-great-grandfather traded coffee and mastered the art of roasting in the mid-1500s, becoming the sole supplier to Sultan Solomon the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire.
The story of how one of the human civilization’s most cherished coffee lineages wound up in the Old Pueblo was sparked by mere happenstance as Burc’s wife, who is in the medical field, needed to relocate for work. Since then, Savaya has rewarded Tucson with coffee so good, it leaves one considering whether or not they’ve ever really tried coffee before. We mean that both literally and figuratively, their flavorful Turkish style “Kafette” is like nothing else and should be required sipping for those adventurously curious about how sumptuous a cup of joe five centuries in the making and fit for royalty must taste.
Encompassing all that a wholesome family-owned coffee house should be, Tucson Coffee Roasters (TCR) is a local hallmark complete with plush comfy chesterfields, a romantically lit evening patio, and this cute little sign teasing witty comments such as “I’m in a good place right now, not emotionally, there’s just coffee here.” Aside from the traditional, passionately hand-roasted java favorites, TCR whips up a delicious Horchata Latte, signature lemonade chillers, and refreshing prickly-pear black iced tea, not to mention, they are proud to make five unique syrup flavors in-house. On a side note, there is an easily understandable web page on their site that very helpfully breaks down coffee beans by region, roast, and aroma, while also adding flavor profiles – something useful for anybody hoping to learn the basics!
A part of Broadway Village, in the heart of Tucson, Ombre Coffee is a tucked-away gem that’s only accessible through an eatery called Bisbee Breakfast Club. Expect exceptional service with a smile here, people regularly rave about their employees’ kind-hearted demeanor, what’s more, the cappuccino crafting talent behind the retro-infused, eye-snatching countertop is second to none. Don’t forget to take home some freshly roasted beans on your way out, they’ve got this mouthwatering Buttercup blend that promises a smooth and creamy start to the day, accented by a delicate balance of toasty spiced cocoa and deep raisin brandy, with a hint of sweet apple aroma and finish.
Founded by a couple of musicians and audio engineers, Decibel Coffee Works teams up with Tucson’s rising artistic scene to bring you diligently crafted coffee and amazing live performers through various creative projects. The petite cafe operates out of an 800-square-foot converted shipping container fortuitously plopped at the center of the Mercado San Agustin Annex, a modern fixture of the burgeoning westside market district situated along the beautiful tree-lined Avenida Del Convento. We recommend giving their southwestern Cafe de Olla a try, it’s a traditional Mexican drink made with piloncillo (whole cane sugar), cinnamon, clove, star anise, chocolate, espresso, and milk (or an alternative) – oh, and you can add spicy seasonings as well!
Initially imagined to be nothing but a roaster of the best coffees, Cartel first opened in 2008. As a result of ever-increasing foot traffic flowing through their operation, founders, Jason and Amy Silberschlag quickly realized they needed to start building some furniture for these folks so guests could hang out and talk about the coffee they were enjoying, and at some point during that process, a cafe model took shape.
Now featuring 10 carefully procured locations, including two Tucson coffee shops, Cartel Coffee Lab has become one of the most formidable and dependable boutique java brands in the state of Arizona – they’ve also recently expanded into California and Texas.
If you enjoyed this guide to the best coffee shops in Tucson, be sure to check out our list of the top 15 coffee shops in Phoenix!