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  • Penny Hieb

Songbird Coffee & Tea House

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

If you are looking for the heart of downtown Phoenix's vibrant arts community, set your sights on the historic stretch of Roosevelt St just south of the I-10 between 7th Ave and 16th St: you've arrived. Known collectively as Roosevelt Row, this neighborhood is home to an eclectic mix of independent businesses, art galleries, restaurants, cool coffee shops, and eye catching murals. And, if you are seeking out the soul of this neighborhood, you need to stop in and check out Songbird Coffee & Tea House at 812 N. Third St, because, once again, you've arrived. A staple of the community since 2012, the coffee shop is housed in a rehabilitated 1904 California bungalow, just a stone's throw from Film Bar and right next door to wine bistro The Farish House.

Facing Third St, Songbird welcomes you with its charming front porch swing and lovely turn of the century details. When you step foot into the coffee house, you immediately enter into a cozy front room with original wood flooring, comfortable seating options, and a brick fireplace that is at once a focal point and the seat of the shop's hearth. Unlike the spare industrial spaces that house many of today's coffee bars, there are many loving details scattered throughout the cafe that one may not notice with a cursory glance: the birdcage encased light fixtures overhead in the main room, a large tree branch suspended on the ceiling in front of the coffee bar, and the pots of greenery on the fireplace mantel.

The coffee bar itself can be found in the smaller back room of the house. This area also houses the kitchen and a more intimate selection of seating. There is a vintage sofa against one wall, the kind my grandparents would have referred to as a "davenport". Across from the coffee bar there is a wide selection of boxed teas available for purchase in varieties such as Moroccan Mint, Madagascar Coconut, and Toasty Almond, all bearing Songbird's logo. There is also a handy station where you can add flavorings such as honey, blue agave, or simple syrup to your beverage. A small commercial refrigerator holds breakfast sandwiches and unique items such as chia pudding, along with bottled beverage offerings. The cafe makes its pastries in house and has plenty of scrumptious choices in the bakery case.

And, of course, I can't overstate the glorious, yet simple, selection of Songbird coffee drinks. A quirky menu board spells out available choices with wooden Scrabble letters: pour over, espresso, macchiato, latte, cappuccino, and a few other solid choices are featured. House made flavors such as dark chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut can be added. There are also different milk options: regular, non fat, almond, and coconut. I ordered my standard: a hot latte made with whole milk. The frothy, delicious beverage was hand crafted by the shop's talented barista, Susie Clare. The art topped latte was presented to me in an elegant white ceramic mug sitting atop a matching saucer. With this presentation, my latte was clearly a special event. I chatted a bit with Susie and learned that she is a 15 year veteran of Phoenix's coffee scene and spent many of those years at Lola Coffee. Throughout the years, she has held both coffee jobs and office jobs off and on. When I asked which she preferred, she quickly responded, "Clearly, I like coffee more.". She was also a helpful resource for some quality home brewing tips, sharing with me that her preferred method is the French press and that she steeps Songbird's espresso blend for optimal flavor extraction.

Songbird's bright, flavorful coffees are roasted by Cortez Coffee Company of Tempe. The roastery was founded in 1993 by Ronald Cortez, a true coffee professional with a lifetime of cultivation and roasting experience. Cortez grew up learning the art of roasting from his father and grandfather in his native Costa Rica. Cortez is also the founder of More Than Fair, a direct trade coalition that connects quality coffee growers, farmers, and consumers. Songbird currently brews two of Cortez Coffee's selections: the Camaroon Boyo, a medium roasted single origin coffee with earthy notes, and the Nepal, a washed bold coffee that shines with hints of salty caramel. The coffee shop also sells growlers filled with Cortez Cold Brew, made with Costa Rica Volcan Azul. A full growler is available for $16.

An active supporter of the Phoenix arts community, Songbird showcases a revolving selection of local art available for sale. On display for the months of January and February are the works of Penelope Quinn. Quinn creates what she calls "pennyglyphs", using mixed media on canvas. The canvases are both rectangular and circular and feature images of pelicans, owls, and lizards. The cafe also hosts live music on the porch. With an ample front lawn that includes picnic tables,

clusters of adirondack chairs, and festively strewn lights, the outdoor space is perfect for showcasing local talent and bringing community residents together.

You can stop by and check out Songbird's charming vibe and try some of their amazing coffee seven days a week between the hours of 6am - 8pm.

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