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  • Writer's picturePenny Hieb

Fillmore Coffee Company

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

In the many treks I've taken to downtown Phoenix over the years in search of great craft coffee, I somehow overlooked Fillmore Coffee Company, and that, mates, is a crying shame. Located on the ground floor of the eight story Skyline Loft Apartments at 600 N. 4th Street, Fillmore Coffee Company is a true gem with splendid coffee and food options that should not be missed. The shop was founded by entrepreneurs Mike (whose family ties to the Phoenix coffee scene are legendary), and Tristan, a transplant from Down Under who brings us the first glimpse of Australian coffee culture in the valley.

When I arrived at Fillmore Coffee Company early Wednesday morning, I found a beautiful light filled cafe buzzing with energy. A sign beckoned me with the words, "coffee anyone?", to which I silently replied, "but of course!" I stepped up to the front of an impressive wrap around coffee bar and ordered a hot latte with whole milk and waited while the barista crafted my drink. When she finished, she wordlessly presented me with a large mug of latte topped with one of the most intricately detailed latte art pieces I have ever been privileged to. She then quickly resumed making other people's beverages. It was like witnessing a football player scoring a touchdown without spiking the ball in the end zone.

The latte was, of course, just plain delicious, but after spending several moments adoring the gorgeous presentation, I expected no less. If the milk in a latte isn't perfectly frothed it is impossible to do such art. And not to mention, my past experiences with art-less lattes have sometimes tasted burnt and kind of sad. Fillmore Coffee Company's beans are roasted by Xanadu Coffee Roasters of Phoenix In business for over six years, the roastery provides wholesale beans to some of the finest cafes in town. I've never had a cup from Xanadu that wasn't absolutely stellar. When I spoke with one of the owners, Mike, about the choice to outsource the cafe's roasting, he shared with me that the team would like to roast their beans in house but the building codes at the Skyline Loft space do not permit it. Mike and Tristan don't rule out roasting sometime in the future if they are able to locate a proper facility.

Mike fell into the world of coffee as a student at ASU. At that time, he started working for his uncle, Damian Serafine of Serafina Coffee Roasters. Serafina Coffee Roasters is one of the original pioneers of Phoenix coffee culture, opening the very first coffee cart in the valley back in 1994. After working under his uncle, it didn't take Mike long to become entirely immersed in the beverage altogether, trekking out to coffee growing countries like Costa Rica and Peru in an effort to learn more. He now brings that passion and wealth of knowledge to Fillmore Coffee Company everyday.

The other half of the duo, Tristan, is an Australian native who grew up entrenched in the continent's coffee centric culture. Australians embraced espresso long before we Americans, and were demanding quality flavors and aromas from their coffee beans while we were still brewing Folgers instant. Coffee Down Under has long featured smoother, lighter roasts. In addition, their cafes have traditionally carried healthier fare as a reflection of their outdoorsy, beach driven lifestyles. Fillmore Coffee Company's menu reflects these Australian principles in their choice to use organic ingredients and offer items such as acai bowls, fresh fruit smoothies, and that uber Australian invention: avocado toast. Like most Australian style cafes, Fillmore Coffee Company serves breakfast all day. And, of course, no one in Phoenix does the flat white, a long time Aussie coffee staple, better than Fillmore Coffee Company. The flat white is akin to a latte but is velvety rather than fluffy and a bit more petite. If you want to experience an authentic flat white, this is your coffee house.

Mike and Tristan both knew they wanted to open a shop in downtown Phoenix and the opportunity presented itself four years ago when The Skyline Loft Apartments went looking for a cafe to fill one of the spaces on their ground floor. The duo was able to sit down with Weidner Properties and design the space from scratch, right down to the large coffee bean shaped lighting fixture suspended over the espresso bar. The open and spacious cafe features wood plank flooring, crisp white walls, and exposed duct work. The vibe is modern, yet inviting. There is a pleasing mix of eclectic seating, including window facing work stations with plug ins for laptops. There are also comfortable spaces to relax, as well as socialize. I liked the unique live wood glass covered coffee table paired up with a leather couch I noticed in one corner and the nearby gaming table built for marathon checkerboard matches. There are also available outdoor seating options on the cafe's south side facing the AMC Theatre. The north door enters into the courtyard of The Skyline Loft Apartments and overlooks a sparkling pool. The coffee shop is home to a notable number of fresh green plants, some of which splay their branches across the ceiling.

Fillmore's location attracts a large number of students from nearby ASU Downtown and the U of A Biomedical Campus. There are also local residents walking in and ordering with their canine companions in tow, as well as business people filing in from the city's surrounding financial district. I noticed a constant flow of commerce in the cafe. The steady pace included many familiar faces to the coffee bar, as well as newcomers checking out the menu for the first time. The cafe's walls feature an interesting mix of art, including a portrait of Yoda (not the baby version) peering at me while I enjoyed my delicious latte. The soundtrack to my visit included pleasing selections by the likes of Ray LaMontagne, The Wood Brothers, and Old Crow Medicine Show, all playing at a moderate level throughout the cafe.

You can sample Fillmore Coffee Company's yummy offerings seven days a week with hours that start at 6 am on weekdays and close at 7 pm. Weekend hours start at 7 am on Saturday, 8 am on Sunday, and close at 5 pm. There is convenient parking in the garage to the west of the shop's entrance.

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