Phoenix coffee shack forced to close for being too popular

Illustration for article titled Phoenix coffee shack forced to close for being too popular
Photo: dontree_m

The Dutch Bros. coffee shack at Camelback Road and Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona is busy all times of day. I know this because I used to live a half-mile from there, and I’d see customers thronging outside its window and honking in its drive-thru lane any time I passed it, whether during the morning commute or later in the evening. The coffee shack—with just a walk-up window and drive-thru, no indoor seating—is so popular that its neighboring businesses complained to the city, which has revoked its permits.

The Arizona Republic reports the location won’t have to close until February, but plans are in the works to relocate to a new location down the street at Camelback and 3rd Avenue. Admittedly, the current intersection housing that particular Dutch Bros. shack is a gnarly one, with clustered strip-mall type retail shops along both Camelback and Central. Nearby businesses reportedly complained that Dutch Bros. customers and staff parked in their spots, blocked traffic through an alley, and tied up the flow of vehicles along Camelback Avenue.


What’s the secret sauce that makes Dutch Bros. so popular? There are two coffee shops within two blocks in either direction of the Dutch Bros. kiosk, but none likely serve the breadth of latte flavors that Dutch Bros. offers.

A partial list: Ba-Nay-Nay, Banana Bread, Banana Cream Pie, Banana Split, Birthday Cake, Black Forest, Cake Batter, Cinnamon Dolce, Cinnamon Roll, Cookie, Cotton Candy, Flap Jack, French Toast, French Vanilla Bean, German Chocolate (not to be confused with Black Forest), Horchata, Jelly Donut, Peach Cobbler, Peppermint Bark, Raspberry Truffle, S’mores, Snickerdoodle, Sugar Cookie (not to be confused with Cookie), Toasted Mello (not to be confused with S’mores), Vanilla Bean, White Angel, White Zombie.


Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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E=MC Hammered

I used to live in a relatively small town in Southern Oregon near where Dutch Bros was founded and is still headquartered (for reference, it was small enough to not have a single Starbucks, but large enough, apparently, to have five Dutch Bros locations). I typically drink black brewed coffee or Americanos with the occasional unsweetened latte when I want something different, so I never much went for the super sugary drinks that they are famous for, but their lattes are decent enough for a drive-through coffee place and they don’t actually brew coffee so if you just want a regular cup you get an Americano, which is fine by me.

Their popularity, like with many things, seems to come more from strong and creative marketing that targets high school and college kids than from the actual quality of the product, but they do support local charities and organizations and were always willing to donate free drink cards or give a portion of a day’s proceeds to a local cause.

There’s better coffee and worse coffee out there, and there’s better companies and worse. They are basically “meh” to “slightly above average” in just about every way, but have somehow become a phenomenon. They are basically the Krispy Kreme of coffee.