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“Fantastic coffee” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cartel Coffee Lab

Cartel Coffee Lab
225 West University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 225-3899
Website
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Ranked #28 of 611 restaurants in Tempe
Price range: $5 - $10
Cuisines: Coffee Shop
Restaurant details
Mesa, Arizona
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Fantastic coffee”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2011 via mobile

Parking can be a challenge and this place is a true hole in the wall, but the coffee is excellent -- they roast their own beans onsite.

Get a plain drip coffee for an unexpected treat or a cappuccino (for here ONLY) if you like fancier presentation. Their biggest seller seems to be the 'toddy' which is "iced coffee done right." I don't do cold coffee much, so I can't comment on that, but people coming in order it a lot.

This place reminds me of pre-Starbucks days of little coffee shops in college towns, and that's a good thing. Roasting day is a real treat -- I don't know if they publish a schedule, but the whole place smells amazing on those days.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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17 reviews from our community

94% Recommend
    12
    4
    0
    1
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
CA
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Friendly staff”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2011

I prefer to support local coffee shops instead of chains, so I sought out an independent spot when I was in the Tempe area and came across Cartel Coffee Lab. The place is eclectic and spacious, and the staff is friendly and prompt. I went on a Sunday morning and spent about an hour drinking a soy mocha, eating a muffin and reading a book and wasn't bothered by anyone. I enjoyed the coffee, but it had bit of a sour aftertaste. However, I would definitely return to Cartel instead of supporting Starbucks.

The place is decorated with what looks like things from a junkyard — there's a curtain made of bicycle wheels, an old salon chair, some crates, etc. It's got its own feel.

The place is not something you'd see from the street if you weren't looking for it. It's near the corner of South Ash Avenue and West University Drive, across the street from a Circle K convenience store and behind a smaller building on the first floor of a smaller complex.

I've heard that customers can watch them roast their coffee — the machine was in the corner of the café.

Overall it was a good experience. The atmosphere was mellow and the coffee was good. Give it a shot if you're in the area.

  • Visited February 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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