Saturday, December 15, 2012

Quick and Crappy Coffee House Reviews: Cartel Coffee.

There's a spot in Tempe, Arizona where I like to go.  A strip of road that holds the three best establishments that currently drain my pockets and suck my wallet dry.

The far end of the street is occupied by Casey Moore's, a bar/restaurant that has hosted many drunk nights, and the beginning holds Ash Avenue Comics, which has, like, a lot of comics.  I like that.  And snuggled in between the two is Cartel Coffee Lab.  Small, quaint and always bringing to mind more than just coffee.  Walking by, I've always asked the questions, "What makes it a lab?" and "is there some sort of science going on in there?"  Some kind of coffee craziness only reserved for those in the know?  These are the questions at hand, and today we answer them.

First off, the place is wild.  Well, as wild as a coffee shop can get.

A while back, on certain nights of the week, they'd play episodes of Twin Peaks while you worked your way through a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.  The place has a gnarly atmosphere with great service and a lot of charm, and holy shit, anything even remotely involving "Twin Peaks" is so very awesome by me.

I've only been here once, and right off the bat, I've noticed that there's a certain presence to the place.  Very hip.  Very indie.  It's almost overwhelming, and almost of a turn off.  You almost feel like you don't belong, and if there were rules implanted that one had to be hip and or indie to order drinks, I would certainly be out of place.  Unless "indie" was an Indiana Jones reference, then I might be able to apply.  I have a souvenir bullwhip and I've seen the movie, like, a million times.

Great place, though.  I remember they had it modeled to look like a metal shop or something, with metal-y fixtures and chairs or something.  This could very well constitute as laboratory fare, completing the mystery of the shop's name.  It looked classy and cool and fun.

But what do I mean by "remembered?"

Well, this is where it gets kind of...tricky.  As mentioned, I've only been here once.  And it was at least over a year ago.  At this point, I still wanna write about it, but don't want to go back for specific details and solid information.  I think it's a fine place with great Joe (I think) but I'm already halfway through this post and when I attempted to make a re-visit, I vaguely remembered that it was cash only.  I didn't have any cash on me and didn't wanna stop at an ATM.  I still don't even know if this is true or not, but I didn't want to take the gamble.  I'd have to walk up, order, find out it's cash only, look sheepish then quickly make my way to the exit, excusing myself and apologizing profusely.  Even the possibility of such a minor blip on the Socially Awkward Moments Scale is terrifying to me.

So this TRULY is one of the crappiest reviews I've done.  But here's a tasteful image of coffee clip-art, if it helps at all:

Here's what I remember about the night in question:

I ordered.  And this is where we do the science!  Or at least where we get to choose some stuff and feel all cool and sophisticated, because you get to pick what kind of beans you want to be ground up and used for your beverage.  I was intrigued, but the last time I was here, I ordered a cappuccino.  Apparently, you can only get a cappuccino if you're planning on staying (maybe they don't have the right take-out cappuccino cups?) so I doubled back and stuck with a small coffee.  Don't remember what kind of beans I got, but I'm thinking they were really tiny and brown.  Just the kind I like!

And it was delicious.  I ain't no snob, so my opinion means nothing.  I could have been served dishwater with a scoop of instant coffee and I would have sung it's praises.  Not to take away from Cartel Coffee's services, though, because the place really is rad with great coffee.  And because I'm scared they might read this, find out who I am and make it even more embarrassing the next time I actually do go in (read the last entry for the full, sad and creepy details of what I'm talking about).

So a 10 out of 10.  As high and mighty as one can get.  Bravo!

And that has nothing at all to do with tipping the Socially Awkward Moments Scale.

I swear.

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