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In this issue, which comes out five years since the October 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, we revisit survivors to see how that night has changed the course of their lives.

Java Vibe

Man grinds coffee beans
Photo: Bronson Loftin

With Las Vegas’ coffee scene brewing, there’s a perfect spot out there for every mood

It’s hard to remember a time when Southern Nevada didn’t have the multitude of choices we now have for caffeine. While we weren’t as ahead of the curve as, say, Seattle or Portland, Las Vegas has been surfing coffee’s fifth wave — the industry term for the coffee business as it stands today, with emphasis on serving quality ingredients in an aspirational, customer-centric environment — for at least a decade now, with new java joints popping up in all points of the Valley. And while the green siren is as ubiquitous as ever, you can easily skip the drive-thru lines and get yourself a proper pour over, because we’ve got a coffee shop for whatever mood you’re in. 

Pick A SpotDowntown - If you want to take in the urban scene, PublicUs is the place to be. The canteen-style restaurant is a great perch to people-watch East Fremont’s pedestrians. Come for the inventive food menu, stay for the coffee — such as the Espresso Old Fashioned or London Fog — that invites lingering with friends or tucking into a good book.  

For a scene-y caffeine jolt, head over to Makers & Finders in the Arts District, where Downtown denizens congregate to hatch their plans for world domination. The menu is billed as Latin American comfort food, and the coffee is just as lively. Kick it up a notch with the Mexican-Spiced Latte or a Cuban Cortado, both guaranteed to keep you up all day.

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If you’re more about bean provenance, Vesta Coffee Roasters, also in the Arts District, is the destination for you. The food menu is streamlined coffee shop fare, but what goes in your cup is an expansive selection of beans from around the world — sourced from trusted producers and individual farmers — all roasted to their individual optimal potential. A straight-up pour over here is as good as it comes.

Suburbs - If ample parking is your jam, stick to the burbs, where options are plentiful. Aware Coffee & Tea Lounge (left)  in the Centennial Retail Center is all about organic coffee and teas, with house-made syrups and purees from fresh ingredients. Mochi donuts and specialty lattes, such as a bourbon vanilla, hit the sweet spot.

In Summerlin, Caffeine Machine takes a playful approach to coffee, with fun specialty drinks such as the Teddy Graham Latte and Funky Monkey Mocha, but there’s single-origin espresso, too. If you can’t decide, try a coffee flight for a well-rounded buzz.

Henderson’s Tru Bru Coffee, in a cul de sac shopping mall in Seven Hills, is a hidden gem. It compels you to slow down, take a seat on the couch by the faux fireplace and enjoy a cup of organic coffee (the beans are roasted in-house) paired with a pastry warmed in a woodfired oven. 

The Strip - More of a hotel  sophisticate? Every resort up and down the Boulevard has its own coffee shop, but two of our favorites are Va Bene Caffe at the Cosmopolitan (for the unparalleled beautiful-people-watching, natch) and  Hazel Coffee & Cocktails at Mandalay Bay, where you can start your day in a most elegant way, enjoying premium coffee and breakfast from a curated menu before the “cocktails” part of the name kicks in later in the day. 

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Up Your ’Gram GameWhat’s more Instagrammable than latte art? You drinking said latte in a

soft-lit setting of whimsical décor and plants … lots of plants . Gäbi Cafe & Bakery (left) in Chinatown takes the (ube) cake in the ‘Gram game. It’s a mood board come to life, that mood being at the intersection of cottage core, fainting couch aesthetic, and contemporary Korean cinema, complete with a greenhouse-like structure at its
center and many, many Edison bulbs. There’s not a bad seat in the house, but the best ones are on the stair steps where you can enjoy that well-made Americano.

Downtown, Bungalow Coffee, which opened during the pandemic, has a selfie station headlined by a “Big Sip Energy” neon sign. Pair the natural light streaming through the windows with a rosemary latte and you’ll certainly have energy to spare.

Henderson’s coffee shops have playfulness built in: Bad Owl Coffee is a nod to the Harry Potter universe and the caffeine that fuels it. The Butterbrew latte is a can’t-miss. Farther up Eastern Avenue, Cafe Lola’s interior is rosé champagne come to life, its 24K Gold Creme Brulee Latte — light roast coffee, vanilla, caramel, milk, whipped cream and 24 karat gold flakes — worthy of a close-up. If you’re craving green spaces in the desert, Mothership Coffee’s Henderson location is a mini oasis, with hanging planters throughout and botanical-themed wallpaper, but it’s the coffee here — consistent across the valley’s other locations — that’s the true reason to hang out. 

Get That Novel WrittenBooze as muse? That’s so 20th century. Contemporary writers know that caffeine gets the creative juices flowing, and the best place in town to absorb the talents of those who’ve come before is the coffee shop at The Writer’s Block. Get yourself a double espresso and watch the words pour out. The Coffee Press, at the front entrance of the Paseo Verde Library in Henderson, is another place to find literary inspiration.

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If your muse happens to be an insomniac, there are middle-of-the-night options. Grouchy John’s has a 24-hour drive-thru, because you never know when the need for their signature latté — white chocolate and amaretto with espresso and steamed milk — will strike. And Madhouse Coffee is there for all your nocturnal musings 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You’ll need that Chemex for Two to get you through the night.  

All About the BeansSure, novelty coffee drinks are well and good, but sometimes you just want to taste the coffee. For this, you go to the folks who are obsessed with the bean — from its origin through the nuances of roasting to its final destination. Dark Moon Coffee Roasters roasts each coffee differently and samples it many times before it makes it to your cup. Desert Wind Coffee Roasters’ tenet is freshness, roasting its coffee in small batches to serve to customers within hours. Yaw Coffee Farm Roaster, recently named Yelp’s No. 1 coffee shop in the U.S. and Canada, specializes in beans sourced from small farms around the globe; they’re roasted in-house and brewed with mountain spring water. You can also purchase a bag of beans to brew at home.

The Original ScenestersOur current coffee renaissance would not be possible without the local pioneers who paved the way. Sunrise Coffee, founded in 2008, opened the

door to using ethically sourced coffee beans and spotlighting fair trade practices. It remains a force in the scene, opening multiple Mothership Coffee (right) locations in the last few years. Sambalatte’s original location in Boca Park showed us that drinking coffee can be an experience beyond what’s in our cup; the atmosphere and food added a great deal to the equation. Stop by these stalwarts to get in touch with our city’s fifth-wave roots. Φ


Photos: Bronson Loftin