Coffee and beer bar

What, exactly, is a “coffee and beer bar”?

How did you get here? (To this page, not to the planet.) There’s a good chance you entered “coffee and beer bar near me” in a search engine and … there we were! Or maybe a friend told you about this great coffee and beer bar they know and … here you are! And we hope you’ll be where we are in person, soon. However you found us, we’re glad you did. But just so you know…

We don’t really think of ourselves as a “coffee and beer bar.”

Just what is a “coffee and beer bar,” anyway?

This is a discussion that has actually taken place in both our locations. And while it’s not as exciting as, say, an open mic night (which can get really exciting, depending on who takes the open mic that night), it’s still pretty darn interesting! Or at least interesting enough to score a blog post. Maybe. See for yourself.

Is there really such a thing as a “coffee bar”?

We all know what a bar is, or the things we usually call a bar. They serve beer and liquor and maybe have snacks that are strategically chosen to make you need to buy more beer and liquor. So if you just say to your crew, “Let’s go to a bar,” chances are that’s the kind of place you’re going to end up. And coffee doesn’t enter into the discussion … until maybe later, if you stay there longer than you should. (Please designate a driver.)

So most of us — even us hip, thoroughly caffeinated, erudite-when-it-comes-to-coffee-and-beer-but-never-in-an-irritating-way folks at Sip — probably thought that the beery variety of bar came first, then us hip, erudite etc. types coopted “bar,” stuck “coffee” in front of it, and now you can hardly find a real neighborhood bar because there are 15 of the coffee type between you and the old kind.

But you know what? (You see this coming, don’t you?) Maybe the coffee types laid claim to “bar” first. Because we know, thanks to word historians, that the first use of the term “coffee bar” happened in 1886. And you know what the beer-and-booze kind of bars were called then?

Not bars.

According to Christine Sismondo’s history of such establishments, “America Walks Into a Bar,” they were “taverns” and “saloons” and, in Britain (or just for Britannophiles), “pubs.”

These not-bars had bars, of course. That was the space where the bartender … tended the bar. It was a place within the place; usually a long piece of furniture where you went to get your drink. And another bowl of too-salty pretzels. But “bar” didn’t refer to the building or even the whole room.

Then, in 1886, somewhere in America (and we’re not sure where), somebody opened an establishment that, if it had been serving alcohol, would have been called a tavern, saloon, etc. Yet with the primary beverage on tap, so to speak, being coffee, this javameister cleverly was the first to lay claim to “bar,” prefix “coffee.” This was probably not a “coffee and beer bar,” by the way, since the best we can figure out, it served one but not the other.

So, armed with that knowledge, we at Sip can honestly and comfortably argue that the coffeefolk posted the name “Bar” on the outside first. Or we would argue that if we called ourselves a coffee bar, which we usually don’t, primarily because … we also serve beer.

So does that make Sip a regular bar?

The short answer is “no.” Well, actually, that’s the long answer, too. Or the only answer, if what you’re asking is, “Is Sip a tavern/saloon/pub/speakeasy/groghouse?” The reason being, the primary emphasis of those places is the intake of liquids that interact with us in interesting ways. And the secondary emphasis is on the camaraderie we may find there. Sure, they have snacks. But that’s not why we go there, is it? The pretzels and beer nuts aren’t that good.

Still, at Sip, you can take in liquids with interesting interactive properties, both stimulating (your coffees, your teas) and otherwise (your beers and cocktails). So if you’ve read this far, you’re starting to realize our identity problem:

  • Sip serves beer and liquor.
  • Sip serves coffees and teas.
  • Sip has camaraderie. (And not just on open mic night.)

Yes, we could then legitimately call ourselves a coffee and beer bar, leaving out the cocktails so they don’t further complicate things. But then … there’s food. And Sip’s goes far beyond pretzels and bar mix. Not to get into the menu here — you can do that yourself elsewhere on our site  — but it gets rave reviews, wins awards, etc.

To be completely accurate, then, you would have to say that Sip is a coffee and beer bar and … bistro, maybe? And suddenly we realized we were gonna need a bigger sign. So, since Sip has two locations, here’s what we decided:

  • One Sip is in a repurposed garage, so we named it Sip Coffee and Beer Garage. Inside, it has kind of a garagey, industrial feel. (Doesn’t smell like gas and oil, though.)
  • The other Sip location had once been a needlepoint shop, and when we redecorated, it seemed right to make it welcoming and homey. So the only thing we could call it was a “house”: Sip Coffee and Beer House.

Are they really coffee and beer bars? Well … OK, dammit, yes. Yes, they are!

But a lot more, too.
Now that you know, you really don’t have any other option but to try them both. Compare and contrast, then tell all your friends to do the same. We need lots and lots of informed voices in this whole discussion of what makes a coffee and beer bar. Or whatever.

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    Updated Hours of Operations

    Sip House (Oldtown)

    Mon-Tue & Thur-Sun
    7am-5pm

    Wednesday
    7am-8.30pm

    3617 N. Goldwater Rd.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85251
    (480) 625-3878

    Sip Garage (Arcadia)

    Sunday & Monday
    7am-6pm

    Tuesday-Saturday
    7am-8pm

    3620 E. Indian School Rd.
    Phoenix, AZ 85018
    (602) 900-5188