There’s something very special about coffee shops. In many ways, they act as a sort of escape from daily life. It takes but one second after walking in to notice the diverse community—a group of old friends discussing life in one corner, a trio of college students studying for their next test at the round table in another.
And while the cozy allure of these spaces has inspired a mass expansion of coffee shop franchises and independently-owned stores, it’s local-favorites like Fillmore Coffee Co. that boast a truly unparalleled beauty. The coffee renaissance in Phoenix can, in many senses, be traced back to the shop’s owner, Tristan Davies.
Native to Australia, Davies grew up surrounded by a rich coffee culture distinguished by an abundance of independent coffee shops serving high quality coffee.
“You can’t not love coffee [in Australia],” says Davies. “It’s a part of your life.”
So after having settled in Phoenix with his wife, Davies was propelled by his love and passion for coffee shops to open Fillmore Coffee Co. in 2016 with his business partner.
“I wanted to bring the Australian coffee culture to a coffee shop,” says Davies. “This meant next-level quality coffee. So we put it all together and we opened the shop.”
Davies makes sure to emphasize the differences between locally-owned independent coffee shops and corporate coffee shops. He believes that the true magic can only be found in the former.
“The concept of a private small business coffee shop to me is something very special. People come to you everyday for an experience and to have a conversation, so you get to know the people coming in and their lives. You get to be a positive part of people’s days, and I just love being a part of that.”
For Davies, opening his coffee shop was also about more than serving grade-A coffee, it was about building a community. He wanted to create a welcoming, caffeine-drenched escape for all people.
“[At a coffee shop]”, says Davies, “there are no pressures to do or be a certain way. It’s a place where you could go and be social or you can go and sit by yourself (…). The experience is completely how you want to make it. It’s so relaxing.”
But of course, these businesses would not be possible without the beverage that inspired them. So, as coffee grows in popularity with every passing second, Fillmore works hard to keep up with the trends that keep the coffee world turning.
“People love the sweet stuff in America,” Davies says with a laugh. “But there definitely seems to be more of an awareness of traditional coffees now. People want a good cappuccino, or a good latte, or a good flat white, [which is nice] because for a few years that was covered up by all the sweet stuff. Now people are actually enjoying traditional coffee again.”
But the increased knowledge of good coffee has also created a bit of a toxic sub-community of so-called, “coffee snobs.” Certain coffee shops have helped to cultivate this unfortunate form of thinking too.
“I try to [make sure the coffee shop] is a nice middle ground,” says Davies. “I am not going to talk notes with someone who doesn’t care, but if someone wants to talk about notes and flavors, I’ll get into it. But coffee is coffee. You enjoy the taste of it and it is your own experience. You can get what you want out of it (…). To me it is all just a personal experience.”
Davies believes that drinking coffee shouldn’t be like taking a test. It shouldn’t be something you can fail at, but rather, it should be something to enjoy and find pleasure in—whether with a sweet vanilla latte or a black drip coffee. To overthink it would be a disservice to oneself in enjoying the coffee shop experience.
Fillmore Coffee Co. was created with this carefree and free flowing attitude in mind. And Davies envisioned a place that welcomed all types of coffee lovers.
“[Fillmore] is a high-end coffee experience in terms of the product you get, but you will not feel like if you were to walk into (unnamed) coffee shop; you won’t feel intimidated by the baristas and the culture. The last thing I wish to do is alienate anybody. I want every person to feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the door. Everything is bright and open and positive.”
By adding to this sense of security and comfortability, Fillmore is also trying to do their part in protecting the environment they serve in any way they can—more specifically, through limiting their plastic waste and encouraging people to bring their own mugs or use the ones they provide. Davies is also looking to incorporate compostable cups into the shop in the near future.
And as the third wave of coffee keeps growing, more green changes will likely be a part of the culture. Davies envisions a third-wave transition similar to the one in his home country.
“In Sydney, there’s a [coffee shop] in every block. They’re all slightly different experiences, but they’re all high standard. And I can see it going that way, with more and more shops opening up, and with the standard getting better and better. It’ll be more competition, but by watching the growth occurring in downtown Phoenix one can be sure that more and more people will be brought here to enjoy them.”
Sounds like the dream of any coffee-lover. So, as we continue to experience this coffee renaissance, it is important that one keeps in mind the final words of advice offered by Tristan Davies:
“Keep supporting small coffee shops. They’re the growth of coffee in America. [Corporations] are always going to service the greater population, but the growth of the traditional and real coffee culture is in the small shops. That is where you will get a real personal experience of what it is supposed to be to have a coffee like it was designed [in the past].”
You can visit Fillmore Coffee Co. at 600 N 4th St Phoenix, AZ.