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  • Writer's picturePenny Hieb

Well Coffee Company elevates the craft experience in the Northwest Valley

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

When the Copper Hills Church in North Peoria went looking for a coffee company to lease the space adjacent to their administrative offices, they never entertained the notion of first wave "church grade coffee". The church wanted only the highest quality craft coffee purveyor to join its beautiful three acre campus nestled in the foothills of the West Wing Mountain Preserve. As lead pastor Brad Klassen explained to me, they wanted the coffee shop to serve not only the congregation of the Copper Hills Church, but also its surrounding community. The church has been in this community for many years, long before they ever broke ground on their current campus. They're fully invested in this community and are here to serve. "We want to love this community," Klassen tells me. "And how can we best demonstrate that? We did not want to do typical church coffee. We wanted the best we could find. Because when you love somebody you never give them your second best, you give them your very best." Pastor Klassen and his team could not have exemplified that concept more succinctly than they did through their choice to lease the space to Kevin Kubala, the gourmet purveyor of Well Coffee Company.

The church wanted a for profit high end operator that could serve the discriminating tastes of the well heeled clientele of its surrounding community. They needed someone like Kubala who understood their gourmet palates very well. Kubala grew up in the restaurant industry and headed many high end eateries in multiple states prior to becoming the proprietor of Well Coffee Company. Kubala keeps a very keen eye on every aspect of quality in his business, from serving only the top 1% of coffee in the world, to utilizing an unmatched filtration and remineralization water system for the cafe, to sourcing hand crafted organic syrups from local Brew City Roasting Company. The cafe's milk is delivered daily by Danzeisen Dairy, a local producer that milks its cows at 3 am in order to provide the freshest product available every single day. The dairy has been in business in the Phoenix area for over 60 years and its milk is bottled in ice cold glass containers to ensure pristine freshness. Danzeisen Dairy offers butter making classes and tours of its creamery which conclude with the opportunity to bottle feed its calves.

No aspect of quality is considered too nuanced to be overlooked by Kubala, and this includes the cafe's stemware. To serve its specialty grade coffee and fine teas, Well Coffee Company has chosen to use notNeutral award winning cups and glasses. As Kubala explains, "notNeutral uses engineering to design what is most comfortable and delightful to hold." Kubala served a delicious whole milk latte to me in a notNeutral large Lino latte cup and saucer in black. Lino's cup designers carefully studied the fluid dynamics of coffee and the interplay of the drinker's nose and the cup's design during a sip. The result of all this ingenuity? I looked simply elegant drinking my latte with nary a stray dribble on my person (which is unlike me). The meticulously designed cup featured a handle flush with the rim and this feat of engineering seemed to help me steady my cup and hold it more elegantly. For my next course, Kubala generously presented me with a wooden tray featuring a cortado and a sidecar of sparkling water. Each lovely beverage was served in notNeutral's Vero signature glassware featuring exaggerated facets for a more modern appearance. I have to agree with Kubala, the stemware elevated my experience beyond that of any coffee house prior. Every sip just tasted so much more delicious presented this way.

Of course, stemware alone could not have explained what I experienced at Well Coffee Company on the day of my visit. Kubala and his team uphold the highest standards of customer service, and even discourage the practice of tipping. They will accept a cash tip if you absolutely insist, but there is no built in tipping option at their register's checkout. "We give the very best we can give and try not to overcharge," he tells me. "We spend no money on marketing. We just build customers one at a time."

Well Coffee Company builds customers one at a time by investing the time to educate patrons about their coffee offerings and using the high quality roasts of Chandler's Peixoto Coffee. Some of this award winning coffee is sourced from the Peixoto family farm in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. The Fazenda Sao Jose de Boa Vista sits at an elevation of 4200 feet and produces exceptional microlots of coffee from its 18 distinct coffee plots using natural processing methods. The farm has been in the Piexoto family for over 100 years. The Familia Peixoto roast is available at the store for $18. Well Coffee Company offers Piexoto's single origin roasts from Guatemala and Ethiopia, as well. The El Tambor from Guatemala with notes of orange and butterscotch is available for $20. The fruitier Ethiopian roasts are available for $21. These varieties are packaged in beautiful 12 oz bags. While I was in the shop, I treated myself to a much smaller package of a rare Gesha variety Well Coffee just happened to have on its shelves. The Gesha is an Ethiopian variety prized in the specialty coffee world for its unbelievable aroma and array of delicate fruit flavors. The cup quality is so high with the Gesha that it routinely scores above 90 points on the Specialty Coffee Association's 100 point scale. Eighty points or greater is considered specialty grade. I estimate that the bag I purchased was about 4 to 5 ounces, it sold for $28. I'm sorry to report that it was the last one available and I did not see any others like it on the Peixoto website.

I'd already had two amazing beverage experiences at Well Coffee Company at my visit Monday, but Kubala also dazzled me with a sample of their ceremonial grade Mizuba Matcha tea. I watched carefully as he measured two grams of bright matcha powder onto a bamboo scoop. He then dropped it in a traditional style matcha bowl and added 20 grams of water, proceeding to stir it with a delicate bamboo whisk. After whisking, he added 40 grams more of water and then finished by adding hand crafted vanilla extract featuring finely crushed vanilla beans. It was then transferred to a beautiful serving vessel and topped with an artful display of steamed milk. While making the matcha, Kubala opened bags of the Spirit Brand tea he carries and allowed me to partake in the aroma of the glorious loose leaf oolong, black, and red chai teas the shop offers. He then encouraged me to return sometime to experience their delightful tea service. Teas are served in stemware designed by notNeutral that feature flared lips to awaken the senses and enhance the aromatic experience of tea.

Well Coffee Company offers a concise menu of coffee options and doesn't overwhelm patrons with too many choices. There is an espresso bar with espresso based options like the cortado, americano, cappuccino, and latte; there is a speed bar with cold brew, iced tea, nitro, and drip coffee; and there is a slow bar that features tea and coffee brewed in a chemex or v60. The chemex option serves two and is available for $8. The v60, which funnels coffee through a cone like shape, is available for $4 and serves one. Kubala showed me the beautiful copper colored v60 drippers on the slow bar's pour over station and the $100 glass flask he uses to capture the bright, flavorful coffee (often Ethiopian in variety) that pours through. The cafe can brew any single origin variety they carry upon request.

Well Coffee Company carries locally sourced baked goods such as cake pops, frosted cookies, and macarons which are delivered to the cafe every morning. For gluten free and keto options, the cafe uses Sugar Loaf Bakery. Their display case featured scrumptious looking muffins, tarts, and cinnamon rolls, the day of my visit.

The coffee shop itself is a vision of simple and elegant modern desert architecture. The handsome exterior boasts raw steel accents, masonry, and additional weathered metals. The interior features light filled, modern elements with pebbled cement flooring underfoot, elegant pendant lighting above the granite coffee bar, and a simple color palette of teal, white, and matte black. There is exposed cinder block, huge windows, and even a wall that can open to the neighboring open air plaza, helping seemlessly mesh the cafe's indoor and outdoor elements. The cafe features an elevated space that can be cleared in order to serve as a stage. There are plenty of seating options in the cafe, including a remarkable bistro height custom made live edge wood table with built in plug ins for laptops that can accommodate eight. There is a matte black ceiling with exposed ductwork featuring 18 built in speakers overhead. The state of the art sound system is perfect for live performances and community events, helping to foster Well Coffee Company's goal of creating meaningful relationships in its space.

Across from the cafe's open air plaza is the Copper Hills Center for Performing and Creative Arts. The 8,000 square foot facility features a 500 seat auditorium, eight large studio rooms for private music lessons, and a dance studio. The center offers the surrounding community the opportunity to take classes in a number of disciplines including creative writing, photography, watercolor, sign language, cello, dance, instrument, and voice, among many others. These courses are taught by professional instructors with impressive academic and industry credentials. For instance, creative writing is taught by Amy Nichols, a writer in residence at the Glendale Public Library. Nichols is a Knopf/Penguin Random House published author of young adult science fiction novels. Cello lessons are taught by Jennifer Cox, who has been a member of symphony orchestras in the US and abroad. These are amazing opportunities provided by a church that many years earlier saw a need for a "multigenerational environment to tap into creativity."

The coffee shop and church campus are surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the neighboring desert and the West Wing Mountain master planned community which features miles of walking and biking trails and amazing views of both the Sunrise and West Wing Mountains. The community, which is 20 miles south of Lake Pleasant, encompasses gated and non gated home sites, as well as custom estates. Homes in West Wing Mountain on the Elise Fay Realtor website were listed for sale from the mid 300's to just under $900,000.

Well Coffee Company is located at 27035 N. Black Rock Blvd and is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm. It is an exceptional coffee experience in one of the valley's most distinct and welcoming communities.

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