Higher Grounds Coffe House combines faith and caffeine south of the tracks
By Morgan Miller
With finals fast approaching, students can now stray from the over-crowded coffee shops in downtown Flagstaff to a new café on Phoenix Avenue and Beaver Street. Higher Grounds Coffee House is a breathe of fresh air, providing a mellow, welcoming environment free from distractions, allowing students to both relax and hit the books.
Higher Grounds Coffee House is located at the former home of Mexican restaurant and music venue Tacos Locos. After Tacos Locos moved to a new location on San Francisco Street, Higher Grounds Coffee House moved into the space.
Building a clientele may be a challenge for this independent coffee shop that just opened earlier this month. Competition will always be a concern with one of Flagstaff’s most popular cafés, Macy’s European Coffeehouse, just around the corner. However, general manager Andrew Filmore is confident what they have to offer is better than their competitors.
“Obviously, you’re going to compare yourself with the coffee shop next door, and one of the biggest in Flagstaff. We knew that was there, but we also have lower prices,” Filmore said.
Rather than being a place to stop by on the run, Higher Grounds aims for an environment where students as well as the Flagstaff community can relax, talk, and even watch TV.
“It’s really a family environment where you can have your kids with you or you can be alone and meet somebody or you can sit here at the window and look outside. It’s very diverse,” Filmore said.
Space is a major aspect that gives Higher Grounds an advantage over other cafés in town.
“I feel like when I go into Macy’s it’s over-crowded. You know, people there all the time. It’s not like we don’t want a lot of people in here; we want a big crowd, but we are also spaced out a lot more. We have a lot more to work with in that aspect,” Filmore said.
Higher Grounds has already proven to be a pleasant environment for NAU students. Sophomore parks and recreation major Molly Wilmer is impressed with their laid-back atmosphere.
“It’s much more homey than other coffee shops I’ve gone to. I could definitely come here to do homework and not be distracted,” Wilmer said.
Higher Grounds’ lower prices also help them reach out to the public, especially NAU students on a tight budget. Any small coffee drink does not exceed $3, and for non-coffee drinkers they offer soft drinks for $2. Higher Grounds’ coffee beans are local and come from the It’s About Coffee roaster, just a walk away off of Butler Avenue.
“We do a special drip coffee, so it’s not just like an espresso and americano for a cup of coffee. You can actually have a good cup of coffee and also a good latte or a mocha or anything like that,” Filmore said.
As business builds, Higher Grounds aims to have a stronger food menu. “Our plan is to eventually go into the kitchen and make our own stuff; hopefully have a little menu, make it a good breakfast place with a good cup of coffee,” Filmore said.
Currently, they offer snacks such as artisan burritos, steak bites, bagels, English muffins and pastries. All of these options range from about $1 to $5.
With their vast amount of space, the staff at Higher Grounds is looking forward to hosting open-mic nights, meetings and even parties. Filmore’s wife, Alyssa, has played a big role in designing the café and looks forward to working with local entertainers in Flagstaff.
“We were just talking about having people come in and play sets and stuff. You know, I think that will help bring people in and also help people who are wanting to play music,” said Alyssa Filmore.
With Flagstaff’s reputation for “going green,” Andrew Filmore realizes the name Higher Grounds can mean many things.
“There are a couple meanings, and in Flagstaff there are a lot more meanings. But part of it is that there are higher grounds for God, higher grounds for altitude, and higher grounds — you know — if you’re from Flagstaff . . . that’s not what we were thinking but that’s what it happens to be,” said Andrew Filmore.
Alyssa Filmore hopes that people also keep coming back for the simple feel of their coffee shop.
“I think it’s somewhere peaceful and fun to come. Just a comfortable environment to come and have a cup of coffee,” Alyssa Filmore said.