When Kimhak Em and Eugenia Tai started Pair Cupworks, a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in February 2020, they had no idea that the pandemic would compel them to close three weeks later. Em transformed the closure into a positive rather of dwelling on all of the negative things. Em conducted in-person delivery of entire coffee beans to consumers in the area during the outage. “We had already created an excellent relationship with the community when we reopened,” he explains.
Pair Cupworks occupies the cidery in the mornings before Cider Corps opens, and is located inside Cider Corps, a Mesa tavern managed by brothers Jason and Josh Duren. The brothers needed a tenant for the large tavern because it wasn’t being used during the day. Em says, “It was an interesting opportunity.” In July 2020, the pair reopened.
Many of Pair Cupworks’ offerings, including some of their monthly specials, such as September’s Vietnamese style latte and Houjicha tea latte, reflect the duo’s Asian origin. Espresso and pour-over coffee, cold brew coffee, premium loose-leaf tea, and matcha drinks are all available. Sugar Loaf Lane, a vegan bakery in Chandler, provides pastries to the shop.
People come for the one-of-a-kind hand-crafted coffee and tea concoctions, but Pair Cupworks is best known for its whole, house-roasted beans, which are packed in colourful boxes created by Tai. The duo currently sells 8-ounce batches from Kenya, Costa Rica, Peru, and Colombia. “With our green coffee purchases, we’re quite seasonal, so we don’t keep anything for very long,” Em explains.
According to Em, the Valley’s speciality coffee community is a close-knit collection of people that support one other thrive. “If everyone succeeds, more people will be aware of speciality coffee, and we will all benefit. But we don’t want to expand too quickly and lose sight of what we’re proud of.”