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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hold the Coffee @ Coffee Phix Cafe

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the latest posts on Simon’s coffee shop adventures, visit his blog at

Remember back when I proclaimed a front parking lot is a deal breaker for any coffee shop that wanted to be indie? Well, I guess even that rule has some exceptions.

See how the front parking lot disrupting the coffee shop's
indie flare. Disgusting
My fellow reporter, Andrew Cass, told me about Coffee Phix Cafe in early December when he wrote about its involvement in South Euclid's Christmas Tree event.

Despite noticing the two rows of parking in front of the shop, my boyfriend, Matt, and I were still eager to try it, Saturday, Dec. 7, after our gregarious, gains-yielding gym workout in Richmond Heights. (It's only a 6-minute drive, mind you.)

What we found, were plenty of redeeming indie features that greatly compensates for the building's less-than-hipster parking design. Coffee Phix makes a great nursery lesson for novice hipsters like myself: Never judge a coffee shop by what's between the curb and the storefront.

Location: I probably should start off explaining why front parking lots are a bad thing for community-minded consumers. (And it isn't because it eliminates the challenge of searching for free or cheap parking.) First, it makes eating and shopping less pedestrian-friendly. I don't know who likes cutting through a massive parking lot, which is often treacherous and life-threatening, to get to their destination. I think many people would prefer to spend double the time reaching their destination by means of walking through a more vibrant sidewalk versus a parking lot with nothing to see. Second, the layers of cars always ruin the aesthetic of an attractive-looking commercial strip.  And finally, the third reason why front parking lots are humankind's most disgusting invention is because they inhibit patrons inside from "people-watching" or enjoying the elements. What else are patrons suppose to do in between writing blog posts about coffee shops other than enjoy the diverse and eclectic passersby? Scope out the newest Kia Optima nearest to the window?

Now that I've given everyone a brief dissertation of the unfortunate existence of frontal parking lots, not all frontal parking lots bode as poorly as the rest. In fact, Coffee Phix is a best-case scenario: it's not in a strip plaza, and it still has a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk beyond the two rows of parking. More importantly, the building next door is up against the sidewalk and has a nature-inspired, hand-painted mural on the side of its building to grace the eyes of everyone in Coffee Phix's front parking lot.  It is a simple, easy addition to add a dramatic aesthetic punch.

Food and Beverage: Now that I am finished dedicating half of this blog post to my thoughts of frontal parking lots, we can move on to what Coffee Phix sell. In addition to tasty pastries, coffee and sandwiches, Coffee Phix also sells marijuana. Well actually, it's just THC-free hemp seed energy bars. They're supplied by Ohio-based Plant Kingdom Snackery and Bakery.  (Matthew is a nursing student and healthcare worker who receives frequent drug tests.  The kind barista put his anxieties at bay, guaranteeing he would not test positive.)

My ice coffee next to Matt's double brew.
Coffee Phix has even bigger mugs than these.
We bought the hemp bars after our meal. Together, Matt and I had a 20-ounce ice coffee (mine), a 16-ounce double-brew coffee (his, of course), a tuna-salad sandwich (mine) and a "sausage frittata" (his.) We spent $15 flat on it all.

I rarely ever talk about coffee in my blog, but News-Herald reporter and regal coffee expert, Devon Turchan, conducted some independent research and reported to me that Coffee Phix sells and roasts Phoenix Coffee-branded coffee beans. Part of the reason is because the location used to be part of the Phoenix Coffee Shop chain. The owner, who confirmed Devon's reporting, said that's why the building's name was spelled "Coffee Phix."  (Ala, "phoenix.")

Maybe it is a fire hazard, but who cares. It looks SWEET!
Space and Atmosphere: With the interior's high, black ceilings, structural beams and brick walls, I can see why an indie business like Coffee Phix would be interested in leasing the space. Coffee Phix also decorates its interior with signature coffee bags and colorful furniture.  The ceiling is donned with coffee bean bags, displaying an intersection between eco-friendly and chic.

Coffee Phix's interior is charming during the day, but emits a unique, majestic flare during evening hours, complimented by the warm, ethereal glow of Tiffany-style light fixtures and warm shaded lamps.

Best of all, the coffee shop integrates its space with community events. The day my boyfriend and I visited, the owner was busily affixing pieces by local artisans throughout the space for an art show that evening. And just this past Thursday, the coffee shop hosted an open mic
Here's Janet and another percent setting up the art show.
night, where I made my debut as an amateur stand-up comedienne, flabbergasting the crowd with my skills of charm, wit and hilarity. (Janet, the owner of the coffee shop, posted a snippet of my 6-minute act on their Facebook page.)

Apparently, Coffee Phix likes to schedule these events every other week. I commend coffee shops that double down as community hubs for culture, art and sharing.

(Editor's note: Adjectives and adverbs were profusely encouraged and harangued by my boyfriend, Matthew Sellers.)

The News-Herald in South Euclid? You better believe it!
Won't find this in your local Starbucks.

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