Bringing “a taste of the Northwest to the Southwest.”
Seattle is well known for its coffee culture and now Tucson fans can get a classic Seattle-style cup of joe at Brewed Awakening, a west side drive-thru.
Owner, Matt Hall, opened Brewed Awakening in September 2017 after he noticed there was no quick-stop coffee from Cortaro Road to 22nd Street. Having grown up on Whidbey Island in Washington, he wanted to bring “a taste of the Northwest to the Southwest.”
How Seattle is it?
Although there aren’t many non-franchise coffee drive-thrus in Tucson, they’re everywhere in the Northwest. Seattle is also known for having witty coffee shop names, like Ugly Mug, Ancient Grounds, or Brewhaha. Brewed Awakening is right in line with that aesthetic.
Ingredients also fit the Seattle mold. Hall ships in beans from Washington’s Fidalgo Coffee Roasters – a crowd-pleaser called the Daybreak Blend. With its medium roasted beans sourced from Central and South America, it’s a style that bridges the gap between coffee snob and average caffeine craver.
A family that builds, brews, and sells together
The coffee stop is a family effort. Hall built out an empty shell of a trailer with help from his father, outfitting it with an espresso machine, refrigeration, and a work station.
Hall’s young son, Connor, often works the window and will show you some dance moves if you ask politely. His contribution to the menu is “Connor’s lemonade,” which he requested to have added to the offerings when he was just five years old. Every time someone orders his namesake sip, a dollar goes into a savings account for him.
A Cultural Blend
The signature Brewed Awakening drink is a mix of white coffee and cold brew, flavored with white chocolate and salted caramel syrup, then dusted with cinnamon and chili powder. The chili powder, Hall said, is a local touch. It’s sweet and creamy and lightly spiced.
White coffee is not common in Tucson, either. It means the beans are roasted minimally – even less than light roast coffee — at a lower temperature. It yields a white-ish bean with a nutty flavor and high caffeine content.
More than just coffee
The menu has something for everyone, caffeine consumer or not. Hall himself doesn’t drink coffee, and usually favors an Italian soda – bubbly soda water flavored with syrup and a dash of cream. There are several syrup choices for Italian sodas or any drink: vanilla, toasted marshmallow, salted caramel, and more. Most syrups are also available sugar free, inspired by the fact that Hall’s father is diabetic, but also a good option for anyone wanting to cut down on their sugar consumption.
Brewed Awakening caters to other dietary preferences or restrictions, too. There’s heavy cream for guests who are on a keto diet, and nut or soy milk for those who prefer non-dairy options.
It’s a dog’s life
Because Brewed Awakening is a drive-thru, it’s not hampered by health codes in welcoming dogs. There’s a jar of dog treats for people who like to bring their carload of chihuahuas. The baristas get to know the pups, and they learn to expect the treat, leaning out of the window, drooling.
The folks at Brewed Awakening are really nice to humans too.
“I expect everybody from my son, who comes in and helps all the time, to all the baristas to just be friendly,” Hall said. “Even though it’s a drive-thru, you have two or three minutes to really have an impact on somebody’s day: to get their coffee right, make them happy, and let them drive off in a better mood than when they showed up.”
Although Brewed Awakening is inspired by Seattle coffee culture, Hall wants to make a positive impact on the local scene.
“It’s not just about making money but giving back to the community. It’s about taking care of people,” Hall said.
Hall was a police officer for several years, so Brewed Awakening is very law enforcement friendly. He makes sure guests who are firefighters, police, and paramedics get discounts on their drinks. As a University of Arizona graduate, Hall also loves to serve the Uof A students on the west side.
In addition, Brewed Awakening donates regularly to local charities, including Flowing Wells High School’s Senior Day and Grad Night and the Department of Public Safety’s 5k run.
And Fidalgo Coffee Roasters, the source of Brewed Awakening’s beans, hires former inmates, helping them re-enter the workforce.
Going mobile and extending hours
Hall has plans to add a mobile version of the shop. That way, he can do events like the gem show and cater to people who want their favorite coffee at weddings or parties. He also hopes to extend the hours through the afternoon of the drive-thru if business allows. Lots of smiles and happily wagging tails are auspicious signs that it will.
Brewed Awakening is located on 2485 N. Silverbell Road. It’s open from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sundays.