Pop ‘N Tea Bar’s bobas. (Photo by Brooke Newman, ASU)
3 mom-and-pop coffee shops you need to try
Instead of walking into a national chain for your morning coffee, have you tried walking into a mom-and-pop shop in your local neighborhood? Some people may be surprised when they find a few hidden gems throughout the Valley.
Behind the brick building are white walls filled with greenery and the sound of Sunshine Reggae. Upon recognizing the iconic “today was a good day” vine wall, it’s safe to say you’ve arrived at Pop N’ Tear Bar.
The C’est La Tea wall outside is Teaspressa’s most “Instagrammable spot,” but if you walk inside, you’ll find the white, open and green atmosphere that is accompanied by hundreds of colorful hanging flower vines.
Past the glass doors into the modern and earthy setting is a colorful and sweet macaron bar that completely captures your attention. Hints of metallic furniture add to Růže Cake House’s light, bright and fun aesthetic.
While these locations are unique, they share a few commonalities such as locally sourced ingredients, mom-and-pop business models, a creative twist to the average drink, an aesthetically pleasing and Instagrammable store, and friendly staff who are enthusiastic about their jobs and pay attention to the little details.
Pop ‘N Tea Bar
Three young entrepreneurs had the idea of bringing their California-inspired vision to life in Phoenix with hopes to bring something different to the area.
Eric Caraig, 27, Matt Kwong, 28, and Benson Tran, 30, founded Pop ‘N Tea bar which opened in January of 2018 at 550 W. McDowell Road.
The shop is located in the historic My Florist Plaza, and Pop ‘N Tea bar is in the exact building the historic flower shop occupied. This is exemplified by the brick building exterior which hasn’t been touched since the 1940s.
“The history was already here, so now it’s about creating more history,” Caraig said.
The shop’s logo was designed to pay homage to the historically significant shop. There are two parts to the logo: the rose representing their iconic three-dimensional diamond bars and the historical flower shop, and the leaves representing tea leaves.
What makes Pop ‘N Tear bar different than a local boba shop is how they redefined a childhood favorite, the popsicle, and created a new caliber of Boba in Phoenix by nitro brewing teas on tap to create top notch level tea made with natural and organic products.
Their Diamondbar took over two years to perfect and was created by using 3D printing technology.
Pop ‘N Tea Bar is the only local shop in the nearby vicinity and is located in the middle of large national chain restaurants.
“People assume we’re a large corporation because of our marketing techniques, but we just grew to be an aesthetically pleasing place where we can be a little different from everything around us,” Caraig said.
From a bicycle-mounted tea cart to the DeSoto Central Market and many other places, Arizona State University alumna Allison DeVane has brought her dream of coffee-inspired tea to life in Arcadia; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and soon Downtown Phoenix.
The original brick and mortar storefront opened in early April 2018 and is located at 4628 E. Indian School Road in Phoenix.
The idea for coffee-inspired tea came from DeVane’s love for drinking tea but the lack of a fulfilling experience while drinking it.
This prompted DeVane to think there was a better way to take all of the benefits of tea and get rid of the side effects of caffeine all while creating a pretty and fulfilling latte without coffee in it.
DeVane got a patent on the machinery she created to get the same concentrated espresso shots but with loose leaf organic tea.
What sets Teaspressa apart from other tea and coffee shops is they get all of the flavors of the drink without losing the integrity of the drink, event planner, baker, and general manager of the Arcadia location Jess Nauman said.
Teaspressa uses completely natural sweeteners which people with dietary restrictions can enjoy. This allows them to create a pretty latte that actually contains health benefits rather than sugar and caffeine, so tea lovers don’t ever have to cancel a coffee date.
In the beginning of their journey they depended a lot on small businesses so they like to “pay it forward,” by selling retail items from small businesses, featuring local artwork, using natural and local ingredients, and by holding Small Business Sunday events on the first Sunday of every month.
Aside from their appreciation for small businesses, Teaspressa was named the most Instagrammable coffee shop in 2018 for its aesthetically pleasing store and c’est la tea wall.
“We said why not go all out because social media is so powerful and it’s nice to have a consistent daily backdrop to come to. It’s not just having one cute spot in the store’s location, you can always take the perfect picture,” Nauman said.
Attention to detail and ability to highlight the natural beauty of its products has brought Teaspressa great success. Teaspressa sells tea online to nine different countries.
“C’est La tea is taking over the world,” Nauman said.
Růže Cake House
The mother and daughter baking duo that emerged from a business run through a Facebook page never imagined it would create a successful business that produced more than 100,000 macaroons this past year.
In 2013 Jessica Rose Boutwell’s mother retired and wanted to start a baking page for friends and family.
“She asked me to help her, and it was when she wanted to name the page ‘mommy and me baking,’ that I knew she needed more help than I thought,” Boutwell said.
Eventually they received so many orders that the two could not operate out of her mother’s kitchen anymore. In August of 2016 they opened the storefront at 7033 E. Main St., Suite 100, in Scottsdale.
“I wanted the shop to feel like how our wedding cakes look, fresh and clean with lots of greenery and a touch of metallic,” Boutwell said.
However, Boutwell wanted to do this without actually putting the wedding cakes in the shop.
“I didn’t want the shop to smell sickly sweet or collect dust, and it’s off putting to someone who isn’t looking for a wedding cake. I didn’t want it to feel like a wedding cake business,” Boutwell said.
The storefront hosts its production room where they do all of the baking, and the storefront where people can come enjoy růže inspired desserts.
Aside from macaroons, their most popular items are their cotton candy bobas.
“We wanted to make růže-inspired teas, and we just didn’t know how. One day my mom went out and bought a cotton candy maker and it completely changed the course of our business,” Boutwell said.
The duo switched from a primarily custom order-based business to half of their sales coming from the storefront and the other half from custom orders. This August marks the third-year anniversary of Ruze’s opening.
In addition to their unique drinks, creative macaron flavors, and custom cakes, they own an edible printer.
According to Boutwell’s mom it’s one of the few edible printers that doesn’t print a film on top which affects the texture, it just copies the design on the cookie. This has helped them add unique floral designs to their custom orders.
A priority for Boutwell is using locally sourced and humanely-raised products. Previously they used eggs from their own chickens until production increased significantly, Boutwell said.
“People will complain about the cost of our drinks but it’s because we’re using the best ingredients. The quality of a boba you buy here will be much different than a boba you buy from a chain store in the mall,” Boutwell said.
“Being a mother-daughter-team, our strengths are each other’s weaknesses, it’s a collaborative process but my mom is always right,” Boutwell said.