Café offers great coffee, good vibe


Customers socialize at the cozy and inviting downtown Cartel Coffee Lab, located at 201 E. Broadway Blvd.
Ashley Munoz / Aztec Press

College students and caffeine will always share a special bond. It’s there for our early morning classes, and helps us through finals week.

Cartel Coffee Lab is my first choice for amazing coffee, delicious pastries and excellent service. I’m always looking for a really good coffee shop, and Cartel has the perfect university vibe.

I discovered Cartel a few months ago when I visited its downtown location at 210 E. Broadway Blvd.

The café’s original Tucson location is at 2516 N. Campbell Ave. It also has restaurants in Tempe, Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix and at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.

Owner Jason Silverschlag said he originally wasn’t sure about expanding to the Broadway site.

“We weren’t totally sold on it, but the longer we looked the more it made sense and the intriguing possibilities became apparent,” he said.

The spacious brick-walled downtown site provides a comfortable atmosphere that is well suited both for business meetings and for hanging out with friends. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee gets your attention the minute you walk in.

Cartel’s website says it carefully curates each product it sells, proclaiming: “It’s about principles, as much as passion.”

Visit even if you don’t drink java. It’s good to just sit, relax and watch people passing by. Plus, Cartel offers every student’s favorite bonus: free WiFi.

Coffee prices range from $2.50 to $4.50. I recommend trying the iced black and white mocha.

Another option is to purchase take-out Cartel bags filled with whole beans, so you can brew your own coffee at home.

An online store offers coffeethemed accessories and coffee beans originating from countries including Guatemala, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Rwanda.

If ale is more to your liking, Cartel offers two brews: a desert pale ale and a brown ale brewed with Cartel coffee. The desert brew resembles an American pale ale, and uses agave for a bit of sweetener.

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