Coffee CommuniTea: Enchanted Grounds, Highlands Ranch, CO

Today’s Cup o’ Tea
Enchanted Grounds Coffeehouse and Gameporium

Ah, the treasures we found inside... ©2011 ANVidean

Perks (what I really like!)
While in Colorado recently, I visited Enchanted Grounds with my brother Paul and his son Blake. I’d describe this charming spot as the ultimate in nerdy coolness. I mean really, a coffee shop and a gaming store all rolled into one? And I thought Souvia was heaven.

Perhaps it appealed to me so much because I’m a closet gamer. I love board games and cards, video games and, especially, role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. My family played D&D every week for years, starting with a group at Borders Books, and then moving to our living room. Our fabulous friend and Game Master Joanne kept the play creative, and rewarded smart and nonviolent decisions. It taught my kids a lot of great lessons about preparation, teamwork, strategic thinking and problem solving. Ah, but I digress…

Blake loves Batman, and I'm partial to Superman (mostly because of Smallville). ©2011 Paul Narcisian

We’d dropped into Enchanted Grounds for a short afternoon of quiet gaming and something refreshing to sip. When we first walked up to the counter, Paul says Dan to the barista, “Hey, great shirt!” He points out that Dan’s T-shirt image sported Blake’s favorite superhero, Batman.

Blake's scrumptious Batman shake. ©2011 ANVidean

We didn’t think much of it as we found a table and laid out our Harry Potter Lego game. But, when I went to pick up my delicious peppermint tea, I discovered a Batman symbol outlined in chocolate syrup on top of the boys’ chocolate milkshake. Blake loved the sweet surprise! (Not to mention sucking the creamy treat down to half full in about 15 seconds flat, at which point his Dad snagged the other half.)

My nephew Blake and brother Paul set up our game while waiting for tea and a milkshake. ©2011 ANVidean

I thoroughly enjoyed our time at Enchanted Grounds. The atmosphere feels energized, but calm. The food and drinks taste delicious. A well-stocked and roomy game-display area allowed for easy browsing. I can easily imagine playing D&D there, as the gaming tables are spacious and pretty comfortable. I especially like the broad variety of people the place attracted: not only gamer types rolling d20s (20-sided die) and pondering miniatures on maps, but families holding quiet conversations, and professionals working away on laptops.

All I want to know is why can’t Enchanted Ground be in my neighborhood? (I guess it’s so I have another great excuse to visit my lucky brother now… Yeah, that’s it.)

Barista Dan and owner Jeff Kokx. ©2011 ANVidean

Share a cuppa (the stories)
Owner: Jeff Kokx
Do you just love how that last name is spelled?

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)

  • Specialty coffee and gourmet espresso
  • A good selection of teas
  • Fruit smoothies, and ice cream shakes (best in town!)
  • Sandwiches and burritos
  • Pastries and desserts
  • Even drink catering (an entire coffee and espresso bar set-up for your private party or office function)

The Grind (what I would change)
It’s Enchanted Grounds. What more is there to say?

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)

  • Online community:
    Podcasts

    Blog posts
  • Games, toys, puzzles and collectible card games (CCGs)
  • Plenty of seating inside and out
  • Game, club, and/or other events almost every day
  • Free WiFi and lots of power outlets
  • Beautiful decor and friendly staff (Dan was thoughtful, helpful…a real charmer!)

The Grounds (location)
8800 S. Colorado Blvd., Unit A
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
303.470.1010

Tea Times (hours)
Open:
M–Th 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
F 6 a.m.–12 a.m.
Sa 7 a.m.–12 a.m.
Su 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

Yelp rating:  4 Stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Souvia Tea, Phoenix, AZ

Today’s Cup o’ Tea: Souvia Tea

@2011 ANVidean

Perks (what I really like!)
Souvia is probably my favorite independent teashop in the Phoenix area. I love it mostly because it’s dedicated only to delicious tea.

As you walk in the door, an earthy tang of pure tea with all-natural flavorings floods your senses. You’ll think you’ve just walked into heaven. (Oh, wait, maybe that’s the Apple Computer store. Could there be two heavens? Ah, but I digress…)

Surrounded by 120+ premium loose teas and tisanes (herbals) from around the world, and knowledgeable baristas to help you understand all their nuances, what’s not to love?

I find the store small, but comfortable, and a very relaxing respite from the daily GRIND, if you’ll excuse my pun.

Souvia also has a nice little selection of tea accessories. I found myself the perfect “Tea-vangelist” TEA-shirt there, too. (Oh, I’m just full of them today!)

The perfect tea for me! @2011 Andrea Beaulieu

Share a cuppa (the stories)
Owners Bret and Kerstin Wingart explain on their Web site that the idea for their shop came to them in the spring of 2004 while hiking in the Maverick Mountains south of Prescott, Ariz. Based on their initial plans that day – plus research, and inspiration from tea room and retail establishment visits in Germany, Austria, China and Japan – the Wingarts opened their  store on Jan. 7, 2006, in Phoenix.

The name Souvia is a combination of two partial words. “Sou,” from the word “soul,” reflects the belief that tea and its traditions are good for one’s soul. “Via” the Latin root for “the way,” and the last part of Kerstin’s middle name, also fit. Therefore: “Souvia,” representing the soul of Olivia and the way of tea.

Very nice. This wordsmith approves.

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)
The focus is strictly on custom-brewed teas here, so you’ll find only a few goodies and snacks. My Almond Dream brew, which tasted like a freshly warm oatmeal cookie, beautifully complemented the deliciously chewy chocolate chip cookies I shared with my friend Andrea.

Andrea Beaulieu and I enjoy great smells, tastes and camaraderie at Souvia Tea in Phoenix. Thanks to our barista for snapping this shot.

The Grind (what I would change)
I only wish Souvia was not 45 minutes from my home in Mesa!

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)

  • Souvia offers informative, customized tea seminars and tastings.
  • They host private events, too.
  • They sell gifts and accessories to help you brew the perfect cup of tea.
  • The owners are members of the USA Specialty Tea Institute, and their training and dedication to the craft certainly shows.

The Grounds (location)
15414 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85022
602.938.1216

Tea Times (hours)
Open:
Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Yelp rating
4 stars

……………………
I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Tea Infusion, Tempe, AZ

Today’s Cup o’ Tea
Tea Infusion

A hidden little oasis at the Tempe Marketplace for a fresh splash of tea. ©2011 ANVidean

The Grounds (location)
Tempe Marketplace
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy. #1064
Tempe, AZ 85281-4927
(right across mall walkway from Barnes & Noble)
480.967.1141

Tea Times (hours)
Mon–Thurs:   10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Fri–Sat:         10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sun:               10 a.m.–8 p.m.

Folk taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and delectable fare. ©2011 ANVidean

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)
Knowing about this little tea place is like a your own, secret, tea lover’s “tree house” in the middle of a mall. I’ve taken to fancying it for my writers’ tribe meetings because of the intimate environment, boffo tea selection and assortment of tasty munchies.

Tea Infusion is busy, but quiet; tiny, but comfortable; and emphasizes tea, not coffee (very refreshing to find once in a while).

A wall full of leaves and a case full of sweets. What's not to love?! ©2011 ANVidean

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)
They offer an amazing assortment of teas – more than 90 varieties, served up by a knowledgeable staff of baristas. Plus, their lunch fare includes a number of tasty, fresh-made sandwiches, salads and desserts.

Perks (what I really like!)
As I said, it’s a pretty quiet place, but people come in and out to use the free Wi-Fi, and to buy bulk tea and accessories, as well as imbibe delectables.

The most delicious tea I’ve tried is there is the Cookie Monster herbal tea – a blend of caramel, fruit, and almonds – which passes as a liquid version of an oatmeal raisin cookie. Can you say, “Coo-oo-ookiee-ee-ee?!”

My fav’ sandwich so far is the Tuscan Chicken piled with moist chicken, tangy goat cheese, pesto and veggies. Yum!

The Grind (what I would change)
A cover over the blender to mute the periodic noise would be helpful.

Share a cuppa (the stories)
The owner is mysteriously missing from any online mentions, but a card I picked up at the shop says it’s Christine Dilorio. The shop opened in 2007.

Yelp rating:
4 stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Chandler, AZ

[This is a post I sent via my LINC e-newsletter back in August 2009. Thought I’d move it over here, so you could also benefit!]

I have to admit I have a vice. Tea. Especially the tea lattes at my favorite  haunt — the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. CBTL, Chandler, AZMay I interest you in a Japanese cherry green tea with chocolate sugar- free powder? Iced in the summer, of course. Ahhhh!

I especially like supporting the CBTL, because they purchase their tea directly from small, independent fields in tea-producing countries. They’ve also improved the living conditions in small towns by building schools, and donating toys and books. (Find out more about CBTL in this article in the Santa Barbara Independent.)

It’s always a great experience to go into a CBTL, too. I find the baristas very helpful, interesting and loads of fun to chat up. Like Jimmy and CCBTL baristas Jimmy & Chistenehristene here from the Chandler, AZ location.

CBTL is a place I talk about to almost everyone. It’s a great place to meet for a vibrant conversation over a delicious cup of tea. I recommend it highly! (Oh, and they do serve coffee, too! :oD )

Why not share your own favorite tea drink. Or, maybe you’d like to ask a question or make another comment? I value your feedback.

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Inside the Bungalow, Mesa, AZ

Today’s Coffee CommuniTea
Inside the Bungalow

The front patio at Inside the Bungalow in Mesa, AZ. ©2011 ANVidean

The Grounds (location)
48 N. Robson
Mesa, AZ  85201
(480) 844-2353
www.insidethebungalow.com

Tea Times (hours)

  • Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)
This eclectic destination in the downtown Mesa, Ariz., area serves an assortment of natural and organic items. It is known for its award-winning Veggie Sandwich, Chicken Waldorf, and Chicken Curry, and also offers vegan-friendly items like a Thai Peanut Tofu Wrap and a Vegan Curry.

This artsy little spot serves up plenty of little surprises as you look around. ©2011 ANVidean

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)
This spot is certainly unique. Not only does it offer a charming, artsy, inviting atmosphere, plus a variety of good coffee, teas and foods, but it is also a unique setting to enjoy yoga, workshops and more.

The yoga studio, housed in a 1923 bungalow style home, is behind the cafe. Its original hardwood floors, a charming fire place, and French doors open onto an outdoor courtyard filled with orchid trees, bamboo and water features.

Other activities:

  • Leash and Latte Hour, Mondays from 6p.m. to 8 p.m. Come with your favorite canine friend and receive 1/2 off latte specialty drinks.
  • Open Stage, Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. when you can enjoy and participate in a night of singing, poetry and comedy.
  • Game Nighton Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during which you receive a free dessert with the purchase of a large latte or mocha

    I enjoyed a delicious banana bread, ginger root tea, and the "Alice's Tea Party" wall paintings. ©2011 Cherie Scott

Share a cuppa (the stories)
Inside the Bungalow also sports quite a long list of awards including several Best Coffeehouse awards, Top 5 Yoga Studios, and One of Valley’s Best Mom & Pops.

Betty, the owner, “came to yoga at the age of 60, hoping to find relief from chronic hip pain. Impressed that yoga promptly improved her hip problems, she is now committed to bringing the healing benefits of yoga to others.”

Co-owner Carrie, E-RYT, “has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1998. She weaves humor into a dynamic fluid class that invites students to uncover their innate beauty.”

Perks (What I really like!)
Inside The Bungalow is a “one of a kind community rooted in wholesome values, connection, fun, and awareness and acceptance of self and others.”

They say their mission is “to provide quality products and services, fun activities and special events in a friendly, historic neighborhood setting, to foster community relationships, self-discovery, and personal growth.”

I also like that they work to lessen their green footprint by striving for new ways to support coffee and tea growers, their communities, and locally owned businesses.

The Grind (what I would change)
Not a thing! Delightful!

Yelp rating:
4.5 Stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Cupz N’ Crepes, Ahwatukee, AZ

Pleasant French décor, comfy seating, good food. What's not to like?! ©2011 ANVidean

Today’s Coffee CommuniTea
Cupz N’ Crepes
Coffeehouse and Creperie
Owner: Terri Martinez

The Grounds (location)
4232 E. Chandler Blvd.
Ahwatukee, AZ 85048
480-706-1963
www.cupzncrepes.com

Tea Times (hours)
Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–4 p.m.
Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

Share a cuppa (the stories)
My associate Kim Cecere of ON Point Communications introduced me to Cupz N’ Crepes a few weeks ago. We had a brunch meeting there to talk about writing. (I tell you, writers always have their Coffee CommmuniTea venues of choice!)

A late-start school day was a good excuse to visit Cupz N' Crepes with my daughter Codi. ©2011 ANVidean

Walking in, I immediately liked the décor and the feeling of the place, especially as a quiet spot for conversations. I ordered a savory crepe with vegetables and feta, which was very tasty. I know some people adore that lightly sweet crepe flavor, but I just have a hard time thoroughly enjoying it with salty foods. So, when I took my daughter Codi to Cupz N’ Crepes for brunch and to take photos, I tried a salad. Deliciously fresh! Next time, I’ll try a sweet crepe like honey, bananas and almonds. Yum!

I can totally picture me sitting here with my writer friends to brainstorm plot lines! ©2011CEVidean

I see why this coffeehouse was voted one of the best new business venues in Ahwatukee, and best for breakfast and customer service.

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)
• Crepes, both savory and sweet
• Bagels
• Salads
• Coffee drinks
• A few teas

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)
The vibe at Cupz N’ Crepes, both times, felt energized and positive. A flow of people came in to order to-go drinks, others sat and enjoyed conversations over their cups and crepes. I can imagine a group of writers or musicians sitting on the couches in the back to share creative ideas and lots of laughs. The environment is clean and pleasant. I’ll definitely go back.

Perks (What I really like!)
• The quiet ambience
• Well lit
• Plenty of space between tables
• A comfortable lounging area with couches, a TV and books
• A colorful paint scheme highlighted with lovely reflective triangular mirrors, and ample shelving for tea sets, photographs and other French décor
• Fresh, delicious food

The Grind (what I would change)
• No grounds for not really liking this place. 😀

Yelp rating:
4 stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea: Gold Bar Espresso, Tempe, AZ

Gold Bar Espresso

Gold Bar ambience. ©2011 ANVidean

The Grounds (location)

Gold Bar Espresso
3141 South McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85282
(NE corner Southern Ave./McClintock Dr.)
(480) 839-3082

Tea Times (hours)

Open everyday from 6am – 11pm

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)

  • Specialty coffees
  • Good assortment of teas (critical to my palate)
  • A glass case of tasty baked goods, including the best lemon McTavish shortbread cookie EVER!

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)

High activity. Gold Bar is always busy, and offers:

  • Game night
  • Live music
  • Local artists on display

Share a cuppa (cool background and stories)

In 2010, Gold Bar celebrated its 16th year in the Valley of the Sun as a locally owned, independent coffee house.

Gold Bar Espresso, Ann Videan, Molly idle

Children's book author/illustrator Molly Idle (right) joins me for a morning tea. Her whimsical artwork graced the walls while we were there. ©2011 ANVidean

Perks (what I really like about the place!)

Gold Bar, in my opinion, is the consummate indie coffee shop because of these traits:

  • Focus on the customer
  • Home-like seating areas
  • Ambience, including décor by local artists
  • Free wi-fi
  • Well lit
  • Lots of electrical plug-ins
  • Great drinks
  • Delicious baked goods
  • Friendly baristas and patrons
  • Fun calendar of activities
  • Finger on the pulse of the customer
  • They even have a secret menu!

The Grind (what I would change)

  • I’m not thrilled having to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. 😦
  • Sometimes it’s hard to find a seat.
  • Its Web site offers no background on the owners, nor a full menu of all the goodies they offer.

Yelp rating: 3.5 stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Coffee CommuniTea Debut

Coffee and tea shops attract villages of like-minded people. But, not just coffee and tea lovers or people seeking community, relaxation and entertainment. Business folk hold meetings in these watering holes. Artists display work. Writers meet with their book clubs and critique partners. Music lovers come to relax and hear local acts. What a perfect environment to complement my goal to support all things Words•Music•Village?

Join us on this journey to discover indie coffee and tea shops, starting in the Phoenix metro area.  You’re expected to be an integral part of the conversation, adding your own hot spots and providing commentary on what’s posted. Consider this blog as our own online village to capture the cool, the hot, the fun, and the funky in this Coffee CommuniTea.

So, ready to join me for a cuppa?