Azukar Coffee keeps South Phoenix running

Lifestyle | 1 Oct |

When you walk in the doors of Azukar Coffee the smell of cafe con leche immediately hits you and welcomes you into the space.

Azukar is a “mom-and-pop” shop run by Norberto and Sandra Flores, a husband and wife who saw a need for a space like it in the community. After doing pop-ups for four years, Norberto Flores said that they were ready to start a brick-and-mortar in South Phoenix.

“We were big fans of the coffee shops downtown and we wanted to bring that concept to South Phoenix and to show that it could sustain itself down here,” he said.

Located at 7246 South Central Avenue, the coffee shop has been serving the community for the past two years. The building coffee shop is housed in has some Phoenix history attached to it as a historic home from the 1920s that’s been transformed.

The name “Azukar” comes from a Spanish word for sugar. Sandra Flores said, “I call it Azukar because I believe in using the Mexican morena sugar–I wouldn’t use anything else, so I don’t use anything different at the shop,” Norberto Flores said.

Norberto Flores said the way they curated the menu was by infusing their culture into their products. “It was what we use around the house, as a family, we use what we have you know we sweeten all our sweet drinks with cajeta at the house,” he said.

Sandra Flores is the creator of the menu. She values the authenticity and when she was curating what products they would offer, she made sure that it all reflected her own experience.

The shop has been well received by the community, and the owners are expanding its space by opening up the basement of the building.

“We’ve started to utilize it for get-togethers, meetings and hopefully in the future, we’re going to do poetry plants down there, maybe comedy open mics,” said Norberto Flores.

Norberto Flores is aiming to have Azukar be a space for artists from South Phoenix to find their space to showcase their work.

“For me and Sandra we feel like there needs to be a place for people to express themselves either through art, through music, through comedy, through poetry,” he said.

Sandra Cornejo, an Arizona State University student and customer of Azukar Coffee spoke on how she found the coffee shop.

“I needed a place to get some homework done and so I went to check out Azukar,” she said, “There [were] other people doing work, so it was easier to focus than other coffee shops.”

Cornejo said she felt cozy at Azukar because of the environment and that the I tried their bolillo with jalapeno, ham,and egg was her favorite thing on the menu.

Another customer, Denis Alvarez, also an ASU student spoke about her experience at Azukar, a place she said has been coming to since it opened.

“I usually go every Saturday and Sunday to work on my homework. The only other place I know of near home is the Starbucks on 24th Street, but they’re coffee is not as great as the one at Azukar and if I’m gonna spend money I might as well give it back to our local community,” she said.

Alvarez also mentioned the events that are hosted at Azukar and how important it is that there is a space in the south to have community events. She attended an event on arts and healing that she says was powerful. “Azukar provided that space for people in our community to become vulnerable and feel safe.”

Sandra Flores says the reason why people continue to come to Azukar is because they create a family. “We’re talking about families–we treat them like family.”

Azukar Coffee has found success being named “Best Mexican Coffee Shop” apart from the “Best Of” list compiled by the Phoenix New Times.

“We want to be recognized as one of the top coffee shops out there that provides communities, that provides events, that is a place to bring a family, bring your family, bring your friends, bring a date–just a sense of pride for us and for our community, to be a destination in South Phoenix,” Norberto Flores said.

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