Phoenix’s Mexican coffee shop menus are inspired by childhood flavors

During Martha Valenzuela’s childhood growing up in Arizona, she remembers her mother taking trips back to Mexico. She’d often return with a yellow box of plastic wrapped peanut flavored De La Rosa Mazapan candy. At every birthday party and family gathering, she remembers eating tres leches cake, a moist sponge drizzled with the traditional combination of evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream.

She associates these flavors with times of celebration and reunion. And now, these memories inspire the menu at Deseo Coffee Shack, her tiny, but carefully thought out shop on McDowell Road near central Phoenix.

Housed in an old casita, the building offers plenty of its own history and exposed brick charm, as it once was part of a farm that has long been replaced by a shopping center. But the real nostalgia is on the menu, with specialty lattes such as the Canelita, inspired by cinnamon flavored cookies, and the Abuelita Mocha, an homage to the hot chocolate mix Valenzuela grew up drinking. 

Valenzuela was far from the first to start serving Mexican-inspired coffees in metro Phoenix. The scene has been slowly growing over the last decade and Phoenix is now home to a diverse range of coffee shops serving drinks inspired by Mexican recipes and cuisine.

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