A Foodie Favorite
We have a fairly simple policy for finding tasty coffee in Arizona: go where Bryan Schiele goes. The mustachioed software engineer has a caffeine tolerance that could drink most baristas under the table, and a palate as refined as a master sommelier’s. As anyone who follows his fantastic blog already knows, the guy drinks a lot of coffee. So when Bryan invited us to visit Crepe Bar with him, we didn’t have to think twice.
Farm To Table in the Desert
Crepe Bar is an award winning restaurant in Tempe that just happens to be serving some of the best coffee in the Phoenix-area. They’re part of a growing number of restaurants nationwide that are taking their coffee program as seriously as the rest of the menu. Considering the lengths Crepe Bar goes to source local, seasonal produce in the middle of the desert, perhaps it should be no surprise their coffee program is top notch.
It also, evidently, is no secret. When we showed up there was a line out the door and a crowd of people hovering around waiting for a table. Thankfully, Bryan, daughter in tow, had showed up early to scope out a spot for us.
Coffee with Heart
Crepe Bar exclusively serves coffee from Portland-based roaster Heart. Heart has attracted the admiration of traveled coffee aficionados everywhere for embracing the ultralight roast profile common in the Nordic countries. It seems the Nordic influence has also trickled down to Arizona. As I waited for my shot of Stereo blend espresso, I admired bags of coffee from The Coffee Collective, Tim Wendelboe, and Koppi on top of their Nuevo Simonelli T3 – souvenirs from a recent Scandinavian tour the Crepe Bar crew took together.
High Volume Stereo
It takes a good barista to maintain focus and precision during a slam, but local latte art legend Suzy Lippmann had the bar locked down. Even with a large queue of drinks she effortlessly juggled pour-overs and espresso drinks while chatting with customers (including a rather annoying coffee blogger with a camera). Maintaining high standards while cranking out large volumes of coffee is no easy task, but Crepe has it down to a slightly frantic science. My shot of the Stereo blend was the best espresso I had in Phoenix, yielding flavors of chocolate and tropical fruit.
Maybe it was just because I was with Bryan, who is something of a coffeelebrity in these parts, but more than three courses we didn’t order found their way to our table. Paper-thin sweet potato chips, miso chocolate, and granola samples didn’t fail to impress. An anise-infused cold brew served as the perfect ending to a memorable breakfast.
The Arizona coffee scene is dominated by local roasters, several of whom are doing an exceptional job. But we believe marks of a well-rounded coffee community include the presence of a great wholesale account serving a nationally known roaster and a restaurant with a great coffee program. In Tempe, they happen to be the same place. In our experience, no coffee tour of Arizona is complete without a visit to Crepe Bar. Thanks Bryan for taking us by!