Cartel Coffee Lab has reaped its fair share of local and national applause, including that of BBC Travel and Food & Wine Magazine. With all those accolades, it's surprising just how modest Jason Silberschlag—the man behind the coffee—actually is. "We're all infants in understanding coffee," Silberschlag mused in a video on the shop's website. "It's one of the most complex beverages we consume." But, more than modest, Jason's comments reveal a very real respect and reverence for the drink—a respect that manifests itself in the staff's persistent experimentation, study, and instruction. The spot, after all, is not a coffeehouse; it's a coffee lab. Each of Cartel Coffee's four locations moderately play up the laboratory theme with lots of stainless steel, but offset any hint of coldness with brightly colored walls and original sculptures. Even more essential to the theme? The baristas are known to carefully explain brewing processes and technique to their customers as they create decadent espresso drinks, including the simple desert favorite: cold-brewed coffee. Light on the sugar, the brew allows sippers to really taste and admire the bold, earthy flavor of espresso beans culled from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Guatemala. And though coffee is the most obvious drink to order at Cartel, you’ll want to pay attention to the rest of the menu, especially at the Tempe location. Since early 2013, this outpost has evolved from a straight coffeehouse into a full-blown microbrewery.
Mojo Yogurt nourishes tongues and tummies with an arsenal of 28 different flavors of frozen yogurt that brim with digestion-boosting probiotics and fat-free decadence. Walls lined with shiny self-serve stations bring forth swizzles of creamy and fruit-infused yogurt, which, like deli meats and boxers hired to sort schoolyard skirmishes, are priced by weight. After filling cups with swirls of açaí-, mint-chocolate-, and coconut-flavored goodness, guests crown their creations with sprinkles, fruits, nuts, and candies before finally weighing in their purchase. Since the dulcet treats come with a host of health benefits and Mojo Yogurt donates 2% of all sales to community nonprofits, guests savor each spoonful with a glowing sense of generosity and wellbeing.
Mind Over Batter, a confectionery delight in the heart of Tempe, opened its doors on Valentine's Day 2011 and shortly thereafter won the Phoenix New Times' annual Best Cupcakes award. After being dismayed by the banality of store-bought desserts and the lack of business ethics among shadowy sheet-cake cartels, the team at Mind Over Batter decided to set out on their own, eventually expanding their labor of love to two different locations in Tempe and Gilbert. The shops bake cupcakes in an array of traditional and less common flavors, such as peanut butter and strawberry or chocolate chip and fudge, with the bite-sized cakes come adorned in glittering sugar crystals or technicolored layers of creamy icing. Cake pops weigh down skewers with cake spheres dunked into various buttercream icings and candy coatings. Custom-made cakes commemorate baby showers, weddings, or the weddings of love-struck babies with batters such as chocolate red velvet or classic butter yellow, and fillings such as chocolate ganache or seasonal fresh fruit.
Until the staff at Water 'n Ice can create a delicious mist, they'll continue to specialize in the water and ice forms of H2O. Transforming water into an impressive array of sweets, they whip up 40 flavors of ice cream and 60 flavors of Hawaiian shaved ice. They also craft treats including smoothies, milk shakes, italian ice, and strawberry pop rocks, which when mixed with soda results in earthquakes. Their BPA-free water bottles and reverse-osmosis-purified water keep clients healthy as they hydrate.
With at least 10 rotating flavors and more than 65 toppings available, Yogurtini lets sweet-seeking savants craft custom, self-serve treats. Culinary concoctions abound with each tasty creation going for $0.39 per ounce. Plop yourself onto one of Yogurtini's mint-green seats, the perfect pedestal for devouring cups of bananalicious, lemon-drop, and peppermint-stick yogurt piled high with fruity pebbles, cappuccino crunch, kiwi, marshmallows, diced walnuts, and more, sating creamy, calcium-based cravings until midnight, Yogurtini also carries at least one sugar-free and soy-based yogurt or sorbet option.
Chill administers cooling doses of icy treats, as well as refreshing smoothies, milkshakes, coke floats, and hot chocolate. The menu yields a wide lineup of soft-serve sizes in low-fat chocolate and fresh fruit flavors ($1.99–$9.49), and gelato, soy gelato, and fruit sorbet in a hatful of flavors, such as Nutella, rocky road, pistachio, and more ($2.39–$11.49). Task mouths with targeting the establishment’s pride-and-joy concoction, the tart-sweet Chill-Beri frozen yogurt. Cow boycotters can spoon up its dairy-free alternatives and more in frozen soy or the hybrid treat Soyoflo ($1.39–$9.49). Complementing any palate, the store’s brightly polka-dotted banquettes allow customers to relax and savor the life-changing moment when dashing frozen flavors propose to enchanted tongues.