Even though the calendar tells us that summer is supposed to be on its way out, those recent steamy, end-of-season scorchers aren’t always in agreement. But here’s the good news: When the mood for a refresher is just too big a temptation, you can enjoy iced coffee drinks, ice cream, gelato and many more cool treats right here in our own backyard.
Whether it’s Bunna Coffee and Tea, Enzo’s Gelato Bar or the ubiquitous DQ where you choose to drop in, there’s definitely a treat for every taste.
Bunna Coffee & Tea
Since May 2006 (under new management since February), Bunna has generated a contingent of loyal fans on the northwest corner of Rural and Elliot in Tempe.
“Bunna is Ethiopian for coffee,” current manager and owner Adolpho Rios says. “The legend is that’s where coffee was discovered.”
It’s not just the origin that makes the place popular, however.
“We’re certified fair trade and organic,” Rios says. Fair trade means coffee producers in other countries are offered fair market value for their product, which contributes to the local society’s growth and improved living conditions. Certified organic is a national standard by which products don’t have as many chemicals as their regular counterparts. Bunna doubles as an art gallery, displaying local works of art. Rios encourages people to see him about displaying their art in the store, as they change the displays every few months.
The shop supports aspiring musicians as well, with such features as open mic night, live jazz and acoustic music and, for those with a competitive bent, poker night, all accompanied by later store hours.
“That’s what we do here. Promote education, art and musicians,” Rios says.
The item that sells best at Bunna in the summer is the lattes. Latte comes from the Italian word “caffelatte” meaning coffee and milk.
“The blended caramel latte is my favorite,” Rios says.
If you’re not in the mood for coffee, Bunna offers a wide variety of food and drink alternatives. Open for breakfast and lunch, the place offers fruit smoothies, wraps, bagels and desserts. Rios recently introduced Panini sandwiches to the menu.
Newest addition to the menu is a dessert called Affagato, which is Italian for “drown.” Affagato is a scoop of ice cream covered in an espresso shot, topped with whipped cream made right in the store.
Whatever your poison, everybody wins with a visit to Bunna.
“When you come in, you’re supporting fair trade, doing good for your body, and being environmentally friendly,” Rios says.
Tucked away in a retail center along McClintock Avenue just south of Baseline Road is Steve Schmidt’s café and bakery, Steve’s Espresso. Since 2004 his store has been serving up coffee, tea and homemade baked goods in a small, cozy, laid back shop with its own kind of “Cheers” ambience.
Schmidt says he opened the shop because he was “tired of the cooperate thing” and “I’ve always been a coffee lover.”
Important reminder, though: You won’t find drip coffee here! Only French-pressed is served.
“It’s smoother and tastes better,” Schmidt insists.
The shop’s “Arnold Palmer” drink sells best in the summer. “After my morning coffee, I drink these all day long,” Schmidt said.
If you’re in the mood for something that’s both good and good for you, look no further than Steve’s frozen granita.
“This is our solution to the high-calorie, artificial blended-drink products that have become so popular,” Schmidt said. It’s a frappe with skim milk, coffee and cane sugar—that’s it.
In addition to coffee and frozen drinks, baked goods are made right in the store, and aren’t just your everyday items.
“It’s not just cookies. We have those. But we also have more savory things,” Schmidt said. An example would be the buttery bread or scones.
This individually owned and operated shop contributes to the community by displaying art work on its walls.
Although they do serve healthy items, especially at breakfast time, Schmidt says, “We like the real deal, in moderation.”
Enzo’s Gelato and Coffee Bar
Another neighborhood spot to enjoy this summer is down the street at Rural and Ray. Enzo’s Gelato and Coffee Bar is serving up 18 flavors of gelato and other Italian favorites.
So what really is gelato? It’s Italy’s version of ice cream. Gelato has less fat than ice cream because it contains no cream or butterfat, and is served slightly warmer. It is also has more density than traditional ice cream, providing a stronger flavor.
“Cantaloupe gelato and watermelon gelato are the newest flavors,” owner Enzo Scarcella says.
In the summer, “the Italian ice made with real fruit sells best,” Scarcella says.
Scarcella and his wife of 29 years, Lisa, took over the shop in September 2009, with hopes to make it a part of the community.
“Our customers become friends,” Scarcella says. “We are a part of the neighborhood.”
Embracing his Italian roots, Scarcella hosts an Italian language seminar at 10 a.m. on the last Saturday of every month. Neighbors who speak Italian come to enjoy the camaraderie, but those who want to learn are also encouraged to attend.
If you’re in the mood for traditional ice cream, with the ability to customize it however you want, Dairy Queen at Rural and Elliot is for you.
Between the abundance of toppings, mix-ins and flavors, the local DQ offers literally thousands of frozen-treat combinations.
“The Reese’s Blizzard is my favorite,” owner Bill Sladek says.
“The Blizzard is what sells best year round, but the Artic Rush, a form of slushie, is popular when it’s 115 out,” Sladek says.
Dairy Queen launched its first store in 1940, giving it a lot of history. Sladek has owned the Dairy Queen location on Elliot and Rural since 1999. “It’s a fun business, selling ice cream,” Sladek says.
They too are involved in the community, and Sladek says, “With our product it’s easy.”
“We host car washes and fundraisers to help the community. Over the years, I’ve been able to grow with the community and get to know a lot of people.”
Sladek encourages people to approach him when seeking a fundraiser.
“We continue to get new ideas to help the community, especially with the economy we try to do what we can.”