I have been passing through a white, modern and at the same time strange building in downtown Phoenix for more than a month. The building, which is next to my yoga class, has no signs or lights around it. I never thought this unusual space would be a coffee place.
When I entered by coincidence after the yoga class on Saturday, I was surprised to see a huge line filled with people waiting patiently to order a cup of coffee. I ordered a COFFEE DE OLLA which is a single origin double espresso with milk, piloncillo, cinnamon, anise and citrus. The drink, originating from Mexico, smells like you are in the heart of Mexico City and the taste…mhmm. The coffee is the best I have ever tasted and I am critical because I am a coffee person. For me coffee is a religion. I drink a latte every morning and I expect it to be excellent.
The cafeteria is called Futuro (meaning “future” in Spanish) and the whole space is called Palabra which means “word” in Spanish. I started going there every weekend and people working there remembered me, recalling that I like coffee de Olla. But Palabra brings more than just a good drink. It is a coffee shop, a gallery and a hairdressing salon all in one.
The coffee maker and founder of this place, Jorge Ignacio Torres, is actually a famous hairdresser in Phoenix. After spending an hour talking with Torres on a sunny saturday, he told me that he is from Mexico. Torres wanted to bring to the Phoenix coffee from his own culture, like the “mocha”.
“I am very specific to present the things in the best manner in the most traditional way. So honestly my culture is what inspires me the most of anything else,” Torres said.
The idea of the white building is to focus people who enter the space on the things that matter – art and coffee. In the entrance of the building, there is a sign with the word “empathy.” Torres explained that he has high standards in preparing the coffee. He uses the best quality of roasted coffee from Kenya, Ethiopia and Columbia.
“We have so many steps and we take no shortcuts. We need time. At the beginning when people wait for their coffee longer than they used to they are a little bit upset, but after they taste it they realize that time was worth it and makes sense,“ Torres said.
He shared with me that he struggled with lack of access to education throughout his life. That is why he wanted to create Palabra as a place where artists can explore their passions and to show their talent to the community.
“This is not a place that you will receive coffee in less than a minute,” Torres said. “Here is the complete opposite of that. To me I want you to come into this place and to relax and we will prepare for you a beautiful drink.”
Palabra place embraces the sense of Mexico and Latin America in Phoenix. As a journalist and a foreigner, I like to explore the local food and drinks because it gives me a sense of the place and easily connects me with the people in the area. Finding coffee shops like Futuro in Palabra helps me to feel less lonely here and allows me to see the beauty and the culture of the Valley.