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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Downtown coffee bar and fare offers organic coffee

    Kyle Mittan
    Kyle Mittan/Arizona Summer Wildcat Photo Illustration by Kyle Mittan

    Nestled in the heart of downtown Tucson, Sparkroot Coffee Bar and Fare is paving the way for a new kind of caffeinating experience.
    Sparkroot not only endorses a healthy, organic lifestyle but serves only gourmet coffees by the Blue Bottle Coffee Company, based in San Francisco.

    “We’re honored to be the only AZ joint to represent this wonderful company,” wrote Sparkroot Founder Ari Shapiro on the company website.

    Each serving of coffee is prepared individually, known as the pour-over brewing method, to ensure the freshness of every cup.
    Sparkroot’s Lead Customer Service Representative, Caitlin Smelser, compared the craft to beer and wine in that a cheap wine cooler is far less satisfying than a fancy cocktail prepared to preference.

    “It takes an extra minute but it’s totally worth the wait,” Smelser said. She describes the coffee as having a cocoa flavor with hints of nuttiness, a bold flavor that usually takes a timely roasting process to achieve.

    The Sparkroot team began as Shapiro’s one-man mission to bring a modern way of enjoying coffee to downtown Tucson. He not only built Sparkroot from the ground up, but also founded Xoom Juice, a popular smoothie chain found only in Tucson.

    After opening a downtown Xoom Juice location in 2009, Shapiro was inspired to open a contemporary coffee shop with an edgy, urban vibe. Since Sparkroot’s opening in August 2011, the shop has seen a steady rise in business — before construction for the downtown streetcar project slowed business, according to Smelser.

    “We’re not surprised and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Smelser.

    Sparkroot hopes to launch a summer menu, conceived entirely around freshness, to bring back the business. The menu would include anything cool, crisp, and refreshing, though it would continue to promote a vegetarian lifestyle, according to Smelser.

    The current menu features items such as house-made granola, fresh salads and pressed sandwiches on ciabatta, all conceptualized by Sparkroot’s lead chef, Julie Asis.

    To further push the envelope, this new urban cafe is also alcohol-friendly, an aspect that attracts a strong collegiate crowd. From beer and wine by the bottle to mimosas and Irish coffee, Sparkroot offers a variety of liquid courage to appeal to all tastes.

    Shapiro’s passion for Tucson never wavers and his decisions are always made with the good of the city in mind, lead barista Katherine Bowers said.

    “Sustainability is a big part,” Bowers said. “A lot of the decorations are refurbished.”

    Recycled wine barrels-turned-stools line the bar while a plethora of vintage schoolhouse-style seats fill the rest of the cafe. A round table near the entrance serves as a seating area on the outer edge, with a bamboo plant emerging from the center. Various pieces of local wall art adorn the shop, and three bike racks, sit just inside the entrance to encourage active lifestyles. All eligible material is recycled and drinks are served in biodegradable cups.

    Shapiro said he “firmly believes in downtown as the foundation and heart of Tucson and is “thrilled to be contributing to the private sector revitalization.”

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