Ultimate Coffee Guide: 14 Roasters in Tucson to Froth Over

Local roasters with their own ethos, aesthetic, and approach yet a shared contribution to achieving a sustainable, ethical local coffee economy.

Last modified on October 2nd, 2018 at 9:46 am


Artisanal coffee is probably not your first thought when you imagine a beverage associated with Tucson. Usually, a margarita or prickly pear sun tea comes to mind, or maybe Whiskey del Bac.

Yet as with so many things around the Old Pueblo, blink your eyes and everything has changed on the libations front. The third wave bean scene is officially a-jumping.

Each roaster has its own ethos, own aesthetic, and its own approach, and they’re all contributing to a movement to achieve a sustainable, ethical local coffee economy.

Here’s a list of where to catch the buzz.

Raging Sage Coffee Roasters

2458 N. Campbell Ave.

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For here and to go. ??

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Now in their 20th year of business, Raging Sage might be the origin of Tucson’s coffee-roasting movement.

Owners Julie and Roger Sliker are all about fostering sustainability and strengthening local community while purveying stellar product.

Cultivated care and caffeinated oomph permeate every micro batch. The bean, served in beverage form or bagged for homebrew, is hand roasted on their funky, uniquely engineered roaster. The bean is served in beverage form in the cafe or bagged for homebrew.

Raging Sage sells a rotational selection of beans in-house and online. Feast and Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea serve it to their own clientele.

The foam to top the latte? Their iconic pastries and patio provide shelter for the soul. Order the scones, bring your pooch, and sip some Sonoran tradition.

For more information, visit ragingsage.com.

Arbuckle Coffee Roasters

3550 E. Corporate Dr.

Dripping with Old West history, Arbuckle is an even older mainstay on the Southern Arizona coffee roasting scene.

Arbuckle is a distributorship, not a cafe, so you can’t actually sit down and have a cup at the industrial facility. However, you can get tons of blends and teas online.

The company is particularly known for its original Ariosa beans, which are nicknamed “The Coffee That Won The West.” Arbuckle recommends freezing your pound of whole Ariosa beans — don’t forget to take out the complementary peppermint stick, lest it gets too minty.

For more information, visit arbucklecoffee.com.

Ombre Coffee

2936 E. Broadway Blvd.

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Ombré coffee has been ?? off the list as the 10th local coffee shop I’ve been to since I started this blog! I hope everyone is enjoying my content as much as I am enjoying posting everything??. I’m beyond shocked that I have passed by this place so many times and have never seen it. It’s located inside Bisbee Breakfast Club (which I would also want to try one of these days)! Hope everyone is enjoying there Monday ?? • • I absolutely loved the sign to the bathroom, swipe ?? to check it out! ———————————————————————— #coffee #coffeelovers #ombrecoffee #bisbeebreakfastclub #coldbrew #vanilla #creamer #bulletjournal #coffeeaddict #coffeespot #tucson #arizona #monsoon #treatyoself #localcoffeeshops #explore #beautifulplaces #goodvibesonly #missionstatement #hobby #coffeetime #coffeereview #loveforcoffee #coffeespots #coffeeofinstagram #coffeeislove #coffeeoftheday

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Ombre Coffee roasts beans for all six Bisbee Breakfast Club locations and for a smattering of the local Jerry Bob’s diners.

Owner Terry Kyte selects beans from around the world to make thoughtful blends like the mellow Brazilian/Central American concoction he named “Picky Nicky.”

According to chief roaster James Willis, Kyte aims for balance. When blending, Kyte marries bean varieties that cancel out the negatives of other beans in the roast and enhance one another’s positive qualities. This creates a harmonious mouthfeel. It perfectly complements Bisbee Breakfast Club’s peppery chicken fried steak and Jerry Bob’s chilaquiles.

Like most local coffee roasters, Ombre uses a drum roaster, turning a batch of up to 20 kilos of green beans toasty brown at a time (that’s 44 pounds, for you SAE stalwarts).

Willis said Ombre Coffee has just bought a new building near East 12th Street and South Olsen Avenue, where they will soon centralize and expand their roasting and distribution operations.

For more information, visit ombrecoffee.com.

EXO Roast Co.

403 N. Sixth Ave.
Iced Brew from Exo Roast

Iced Brew from Exo Roast

According to EXO’s Amy Smith, what makes the coffee roastery distinct is “an ethos when it comes to farmer-focused projects in under-recognized or -supported coffee communities and especially when it comes to Mexico.”

Smith says EXO believes in the character of Mexico’s coffee and that it’s been an overlooked region for a long time in the industry, and they work hard to support small landholders and farmers.

Customers can buy a two- or four-week subscription to coffee from one of several regions online, or opt for a coffee buyers’ choice subscription. Alternatively,  go into the cafe and enjoy their brews in their hip Downtown-area building — they frequently have live music, art openings, and literary events (as well as vino, mezcal, and breakfast).

EXO often has fascinating — and strong — hyperlocal coffee drinks on the menu, some featuring chiltepin peppers and others mesquite syrup.

For more information, visit exocoffee.com.

Crossroads Coffee Company

8898 E. Tanque Verde Rd.

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I’m back on my coffee grind ????. Crossroads Coffee Company was worth the trip! So far the largest coffee shop I’ve seen in Tucson AND they also sell food ? *** My coffee thoughts: I ordered a large vanilla iced coffee (unfortunately they don’t sell cold brew), but this coffee tasted amazing ? The coffee had a natural sweetness to it. All I added to my coffee this time was cream, because of the natural sweet coffee taste. * Funny thing that happens ALL the time, I put a little too much creamer in my coffee to the point where it almost turned completely white. I need to start carrying around teaspoons with me to measure how much creamer I actually put in my coffee ? • • Peep the menu: “Without coffee there would be no me, without me, the world would be a sad place” ? • • Note to self: A LITTLE creamer goes a LONG way —————————————- #coffee #coffeelovers #caffeineaddict #crossroadscoffeecompany #vanilla #icedcoffee #menu #tuesday #considercoffee #coffeeaddict #coffeespot #tucson #arizona #treatyoself #localcoffee #localcoffeeshops #explore #adventure #beautifulplaces #goodvibesonly #hobby #caffeine #coffeereview #loveforcoffee #coffeespots #coffeeofinstagram #coffeeislove #coffeetime #coffeeoftheday

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Crossroads Coffee Company does things a little differently. Not only do they not use a drum roaster, but they roast on such a micro level that they tailor tiny batches to obtain individual flavor profile effects. These range from smokey, fruity and chocolatey to “winey,” according to their website.

The roastery — certified by Rainforest Alliance — places a heavy emphasis on social equity and personalization of bean blends. Their slogan is “Coffee Uniquely Yours,” and they mean it. Their relatively rare fluid air roaster only touches Fair Trade Organic specialty beans, gently drawing out their nuanced regional characteristics.

It seems surprising that a shot of espresso is less than $1.50, but it’s true. And then you can eat a sandwich or vape in their C3 Vape Lounge, to take the edge off the four macchiatos that went down so smoothly.

Keep up with Crossroads Coffee Company on Facebook.

Presta Coffee Roasters

2502 N. First Ave. Ste. 100 • 100 S. Avenida del Convento Ste. 180

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Weekend drinks start here.

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Presta Coffee Roasters has two brick-and-mortar locations — the one in the Mercado has a bar, and the one on First has table service. In addition, they sell an extensive variety of high-quality roasts wholesale. They also offer an assortment of coffee subscription services.

The roastery has not compromised an iota of quality for their business diversification endeavors. In fact, as of this month, they’re involved in a shared multi-roaster program with Augie’s Coffee Roasters out of Redlands, California. The collaboration aims to further advance their understanding of the art and science of coffee.

Food and Wine Magazine named Presta Arizona’s top roastery in March 2018 — an honor owner/cyclist Curtis Zimmerman wishes to maintain.

For more information, visit prestacoffee.com.

Caffe Luce Coffee Roasting Co.

943 E. University Blvd. Ste. 191 • 4205 N. Campbell Ave. Ste. 125 • 245 E. Congress St.

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• sunday survival juice •

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Each of the three Caffe Luce (loo-chay) locations are distinctive and offer different beverages and aesthetics.

Some locations have alcohol; others do not. Some have complex menus; others are simple and include a locally baked pastry. Overheard conversations are lively and topics eccentric, but the ambiance is calm enough to get work done and deals organized.

The coffee roasts are as equally balanced as the setting — smooth and rich.

The roastery is particularly known for the cold brews they make from their beans, and their house coffee is reliably delicious.

Keep up with Caffe Luce Coffee Roasting Co. on Facebook.

Tucson Coffee Roasters

3225 N. Swan Rd. • 250 S. Craycroft Rd.

With all this talk about nuance and terroir, fermentation and cupping, hitting up a coffee roastery can be intimidating. Tucson Coffee Roaster baristas, however, aren’t pretentious.

TCR takes a lighthearted approach to the art and science of roastery, while still taking coffee seriously. They make five of their fun syrup flavors in-house, and they serve their espresso drinks with a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Their website, where you can get wholesale beans, will soon feature a video tutorial called Coffee University: Coffee 101 for people who want to be more conversant with the topic.

The roastery sells beans to several restaurants and shops around Southern Arizona. Try their tasty horchata latte.

For more information, visit tcroasters.com.

Hermosa Coffee Roasters

267 S. Avenida del Convento Bldg. 9

Hermosa co-founders, Nick Hoenig and Dana Fehr, have been roasting sustainably-sourced coffee in Tucson together since 2015. The Cup Cafe and Hotel Congress, Cafe Passe and Tall Boys serve their coffee, in addition to a number smaller restaurants and private clubs.

Hermosa’s first physical location just opened on July 27. They serve their brews in an 800-square-foot converted shipping container nestled in the center of the Mercado San Agustin Annex. Their interior is surprisingly delightful, more capacious than it seems from outside.

Hermosa’s coffee is similarly bright, with a complex mouthfeel.

Hermosa’s website describes in detail each of the socially and environmentally responsible coffee varietals that they sell. Subscriptions and one-time orders are available online.

They also sell their roasted beans — and Le Buzz pastries — at the Annex location.

For more information, visit hermosacoffee.com.

Cartel Coffee Lab

2516 N. Campbell Ave. • 210 E. Broadway Blvd.
Cold brew coffee at Cartel Coffee Lab (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)

Cold brew coffee at Cartel Coffee Lab (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)

Cartel has a powerful commercial presence with Arizona coffee roasting. They supply hotels, restaurants, and other cafes throughout the state with beans.

Cartel’s original location opened in Tempe in 2008, and now the company has a total of six cafes, two of which are in Tucson.

Regardless of the bean variety, which is sourced from all over the coffee-producing world, Cartel’s San Franciscan SF-25 model roaster takes them just to a light brown color. According to the company’s educational blog, this keeps the beans’ “fidelity.”

The Cartel near Grant and Campbell has an industrial workspace aesthetic. The Downtown Broadway location emanates a slightly more retro steampunk vibe, strewn with bicycle parts and half-burnished bronze fixtures. Cortados are the hit here, as are the cold brews.

Always en trend, and often the trendsetter, Cartel offers curated coffee subscriptions which are available on their website.

For more information, visit cartelcoffeelab.com.

Yellow Brick Coffee

3220 S. Dodge Blvd. Ste. 1

Anna Perreira started Yellow Brick Coffee in 2011 with crowdsourced IndieGoGo funds. She and her brother David opened their cafe/roastery in 2014.

Today, Anna and David provide individual and retail consumers with coffee education, beans, and a place to enjoy both. They actually travel around the world to source their beans, so they personally know the farmers and see the conditions in which they grow and process the beans.

Each cup of coffee has a story, which you can trace directly back to the farm from which it came.

Anna and David offer in-person classes on topics like cupping and roasting, and their blog brims with information. Topics include brewing and the politics and benefits of coffee tourism. They’re also out in the community at farmer’s markets.

Online, they provide regionally-themed subscriptions and a roaster’s choice curation.

For more information, visit yellowbrickcoffee.com.

Big Heart Coffee

4802 E. 22nd St.

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@bigheartcoffee is a coffee shop for the community, all profits go to local charities in Tucson, AZ. The new owners are very welcoming and my service here was enlightening. This is a great shop to study, grab n’ go, or have business meetings (they have a spacious room in the back) ?? • • ? Iced Vanilla Latte ? Iced Mocha ? Punch card – order 10 drinks, get 1 free ? Kissy emoji cookie from Sweet Rush Boutique *check out there Facebook for gourmet sweet treats made to order* ? • • • #coffee #coffeelovers #caffeineaddict #bigheartcoffee #sweetrushboutique #vanilla #icedlatte #icedmocha #punchcard #emojicookie #interiordesign #coffeewithapurpose #coffeeobsession #considercoffee #coffeespot #tucson #localcoffee #localcoffeeshops #explore #adventure #yelptucson #coffeereview #loveforcoffee #coffeespots #coffeeofinstagram #instacoffee #coffeeislove #coffeetime #coffeeoftheday

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Big Heart roasts their own beans from Uganda, Colombia, and Ethiopia. They also sell beans from other regional roasteries – and all proceeds go to local charities.

Their motto is “Love and Espresso Served Daily,” which reflects not only their hours of operation but of course their premise. Big Heart selects a monthly charity to benefit, such as Handi-Dogs of Tucson, Gospel Rescue Mission, Arizona’s Children Foundation, and the Erik Hite Foundation.

Coffee is available online, or in their cute cafe. Two unusual items Big Heart’s menu features are Japanese Iced Coffee, which involves dripping hot coffee onto ice, and cold Shaken Aeropress coffee, which yields a thick foam head.

While many cafes and most of the roasteries on this list have tea, Big Heart specializes in it, showcasing Maya, Arbuckles, and Seven Cups brands’ leaves. Their signature drink, though, the Big Heart Shake, which consists of ice cream, espresso, and flavored syrup.

It’s hard to pass up that kind of opportunity to pay it forward.

For more information, visit bigheartcoffee.com.

Savaya Coffee Market

5350 E. Broadway Blvd. • 6540 E Tanque Verde Rd. • 2905 E. Skyline Dr. Ste. 287 • 2959 N. Swan Rd. • 11177 N. Oracle Rd. • 12120 N. Dove Mountain Blvd.

All of Savaya’s coffee beans come from singular origins. They are all organic and fairly traded. Their baristas are expertly trained in every aspect of the seed-to-cup coffee process, and yet given creative freedom.

Savaya’s beans are perfectly roasted, each in a manner specific to their origin. They are striving for “exceptional.”

Savaya has an exceptional history. The art of coffee has been in Turkish owner Burc Maruflu’s family since 1551 when his ancestor was the sole coffee provisioner to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (of the Ottoman Empire).

Maruflu and his fellow Savayans pass this legacy on by offering comprehensive coffee classes the first Saturday of every month at their Williams Centre location. Topics include history, roasting, brewing, and tasting.

For those who cannot attend the coffee classes, Savaya’s blog is informative. Locally roasted beans, coffee subscriptions, and homebrewing supplies are available on the company website.

For more information, visit savayacoffee.com.

Black Crown Coffee Co.

4024 E. Speedway Blvd.

Get in the mood for Halloween with our Stranger Things inspired drink by Alyssa! The Demogorgon is a dark berry mocha that will pull you out of the Upside Down with its amazing goodness ?????

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Black Crown Coffee Co. roasts 70 pounds of coffee every two days in-house on a Primo roaster, and has been for about the last six years. They’re the only coffee joint in town that by default delineates on your emailed receipt what beans were in your cold brew – they’re just that dedicated.

They’re most popular, however, for their specialty menu, which involves frankly frightening beverage options like Turbo Coke and Breast Milk, both of which have very high street value (according to back alley whispers). They also have tons of seating, excellent pastry, and sarcastic baristas.

Keep up with Black Crown Coffee Co. on Facebook.

Angela Orlando is an anthropologist and world traveler who owns Women’s Wilderness Writing Workshops creative glamping retreats. She’s into all things plant- and animal- and food-related, especially when cheese is somehow involved.
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