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Arizona's Original Coffeehouse Draws Loyalists
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Arizona's Original Coffeehouse Draws Loyalists

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Arizona's Original Coffeehouse Draws Loyalists

Arizona's Original Coffeehouse Draws Loyalists
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Before there was a coffeehouse on every corner, Macy's was the only place in the entire state of Arizona that roasted its own beans. It has survived the Starbucks boom by sticking to one shop, though the local masses would love for it to expand.

Robert Siegel, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Long before frappuccino became a household name, there was only one coffeehouse in the entire state of Arizona that roasted its own beans: Macy's European Coffeehouse and Bakery in Flagstaff. Well, this month, Macy's celebrates its 30th anniversary, three decades of caffeine and community.

Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

GILLIAN FERRIS KOHL: Heather Flynn Wagner(ph) is doing what she does most mornings, standing at the counter at Macy's, anxiously awaiting her double-iced soy mocha.

Ms. HEATHER FLYNN WAGNER: I started coming in with my mom when I was probably 3, and it's always warm in here, and it's very Flagstaff. Like, when I would live in other places and then come back, it was always a good, like, vibe to come back to here.

KOHL: And that's exactly what owner Tim Macy wanted to create when he set up shop in downtown Flagstaff 30 years ago.

Mr. TIM MACY (Owner, Macy's European Coffeehouse and Bakery): The whole dream was that we wanted it to be a microcosm of the way the world could be, you know, a place where everyone could come in. They were all welcome, you know?

KOHL: Macy, who prefers the term caretaker over owner, was living in California when he befriended a man named Carl Diedrich, who made European-style coffee roasters that looked more like works of art.

Mr. MACY: And he had the best coffee I've ever tasted in my life. And he said, I'll build you a roaster, you open a coffeehouse, I sell you my beans, you know?

KOHL: So that's just what Macy did, even though he didn't know if the idea would fly in a place like Flagstaff - where at the time, he says most people didn't know cappuccino from espresso.

Mr. MACY: But we knew we had good coffee, and we had great people. We've always had great people that worked here.

KOHL: Macy says his employees, or family, as he refers to them, have just as much to do with the atmosphere as the coffee and scones. Julia McCullough is Macy's longest-employed family member ,with 20 years under her belt.

Ms. JULIA MCCULLOUGH: I'll work there forever. I love Tim, and he loves everybody who works there. He signs all his checks, love you. He writes love you on all his paychecks, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. McCULLOUGH: And he's done that ever since I worked there.

KOHL: Flagstaff artist Connie Townsend says she has to stop there every time she leaves town.

Ms. CONNIE TOWNSEND (Artist): I don't want to sound like I'm OCD or anything, but if I don't do that, I feel like it might have an effect on my trip.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KOHL: Townsend is an oil painter who specializes in portraits of family pets, and Macy's figures prominently in her work.

Ms. TOWNSEND: There's several where dogs are driving past Macy's or having just picked up their coffee. They're leaving Macy's. There's one of a dog sitting out front, drinking a cup of coffee at Macy's.

KOHL: Macy's is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month by staging an enormous group photo of employees past and present. They're also offering deals on coffee, the beans roasted in the same roaster Tim Macy brought from California 30 years ago.

For NPR News, I'm Gillian Ferris Kohl in Flagstaff.

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