Good people, Good coffee


Brittany Viar


At Cartel Roasting Co., we imagine a world where everyone is equal; where community and business meet for good and provide safe space for individuality and human connection; and where opportunities are fostered in order to collectively contribute to healthy change in our communities.

Whether you’re a devout Cartel fanatic or have just tried us for the first time, we’re eager to share with you our mantra: “Good people. Good coffee.” Stemming from the importance of giving our guests (all you lovely people) a positive experience, this phrase encapsulates who we are and what we continuously strive to live out each day.

Cartel began as a small-scale roastery concept in 2008. Now, 11 Cartel cafes stand across Arizona, California, and Texas (and if you want our full story, check out Meet Cartel). Though the company has grown and developed over time, we continuously put quality at the top of our priority list: high quality coffee, and high quality human beings representing and working with us.

Core values:

1. We have integrity and are accountable.

2. We are welcoming and respectful.

3. We strive to be better today than yesterday.


The people of Cartel make our company what it is, and for this reason, we look for individuals who align with our core values.

Good people: The friendly faces that keep you coming back

Let’s hear from our lovely folks.

What brought you to Cartel and how long have you been with us?

“Over the years of travel, I acquired a liking for great tasting coffee. So after returning to the states, I was on a casual mission to find that delicious shot of espresso and cup of brew. I didn’t know what it was that made it good at the time. I tried espresso everywhere I went but it just wasn’t right, until I came upon Cartel coffee. I had a shot of espresso and a cappuccino. Boom! I was so stoked to finally find what my tastebuds were looking for: the familiarity of that chocolatey, fruity, nuttiness, that felt like velvet and not a punch in the tongue by bitterness. I soon learned it was the 3rd wave quality coffee I was after all along, I just didn’t know that much at the time.” – Colton Klein, store lead at Broadway in Tucson

“I have been at Cartel since January; so almost 9 months. It was the very first coffee spot I checked out when I moved to Arizona and I have loved it ever since.” – Rin Earlywine, barista at Coronado cafe

“When I first moved to Tempe a few years ago, I visited Cartel and instantly loved the energy in the Ash cafe. I knew then that I wanted to work at Cartel. It took life awhile to make it happen but I’ve been with the company for just over 6 months now.” – Sadie Smith, barista at Tempe cafe

What’s your perspective on Cartel, your community, and the coffee industry?

“Coffee shops have been described as “third places” where people gather outside of work or home life. It’s a very important social structure that helps build community and Cartel has created a great space for that. I love connecting with people I would never have interacted with outside of the common interest of coffee.” – Sadie Smith, barista at Tempe cafe

“Cartel is honestly filled with the best people I have ever worked with. Everyone is so unique in their own way and are so friendly and happy to be where they are. Cartel genuinely makes work so easy to go to, and I truly do love the community they have been able to build and have allowed me to be a part of.” – Marcus Cooper, barista at Coronado cafe

“The coffee community is different here than what I am used to. Back home in Indiana there were far less specialty coffee shops so everyone who was in the community felt like friends. Out here there are so many that it’s hard to have a tight-knit community. But to that point, I feel a community within Cartel. Whenever I go to a different location everyone is so kind and I feel thankful to be able to know and communicate with people in all different departments.” – Rin Earlywine, barista at Coronado cafe

“Community is at the heart of Cartel. In fact, that sense of community is what first drew me to specialty coffee in the first place. I think the industry as a whole has had to reflect on our priorities coming out of the pandemic. For us, that meant reminding ourselves that our communities come first, and coffee comes second. And in my experience, that’s how I became interested in coffee – the community came first, and then the appreciation for the beverage came second.”  – Jesse Pangburn, COO

“I do believe Cartel is probably one of the most knowledgeable cafes. I love that the menu is traditional and how it brings in customers who are serious about their beans, notes, and really slow down and enjoy coffee.” – Eboni Key, barista at Coronado cafe

Describe a “day in the life” working in your role. What do you like most about your job?

“I usually am an opener, so I enjoy waking up early and seeing the sun rise as I head to work, such a lovely time of the day. I love interacting with my regulars every morning, I see these people almost everyday, and have an impact on their everyday life. I definitely feel it’s a huge privilege and view them almost like family.” – Chloé Hathaway, supervisor at Rise Uptown cafe

“As a barista, I work to make the cafe a welcoming space by keeping it orderly and putting out high quality drinks. Connecting with customers can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job, whether it be a regular coming in to chat or someone who’s new to coffee wanting to know what to get.” – Sadie Smith, barista at Tempe cafe

What is your favorite drink and why? 

“If I have time to sit and enjoy my coffee, I’ll opt for a pour-over of a single origin. If I’m running short on time I’ll usually order drip or cold brew. But on weekends, I usually order an Iconic Tonic because it’s such a perfect weekend drink.” – Jesse Pangburn, COO

“My go-to drink is a honey vanilla latte; or on some days if I’m feeling dangerous I’ll have a vanilla americano. I love our vanilla syrup, so adding that in a drink always makes it that much better.” – Marcus Cooper, barista at Coronado cafe

“I’m a sucker for a good cappuccino. When made perfectly, it’s a perfect expression of espresso and a dessert-like creaminess that never fails to make my day better.” – Dusty Cortes, supervisor at 1st St. cafe

What’s been your most memorable experience at or relating to Cartel?

“It’s not a specific moment but while I’ve worked at Cartel, I have changed a lot in terms of my gender identity. At every turn, my coworkers and managers have been nothing but kind and accepting. It has been an empowering experience being surrounded by such good-hearted people.” – Sadie Smith, barista at Tempe cafe

“My most memorable experience relating to Cartel would be working bar for the first time. I remember thinking to myself that our customers would be relying on me to deliver the Cartel product, and I took a lot of pride in that.” – Emiliano Borrego, barista at 5th ave

“The most memorable thing for me was meeting our former barista Rae, and being emotionally touched by her art when it went up in our cafe. I didn’t know anything about her, but her art brought so much light, color, and was so moving. I had never reacted to something like art in that way before. It was great having it up and being able to share with others her story behind her pieces.” – Eboni Key, barista at Coronado cafe

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of musicians while working at 1st street and it’s always a weird experience! Once, when Phoebe Bridgers was in town, her staff came to pick up her order, and the tour manager turned out to be a friend of a friend from back east! That was a cool reconnection with them.” – Dusty Cortes, supervisor at 1st St. cafe

“This might seem sort of random and not coffee related but recently I’ve been coordinating having new local artists every month put their art on the wall and also having a pop up the first Saturday. It’s been something I didn’t think I would enjoy so much! I absolutely love feeling like I’m supporting the smaller local artist and introducing them to the community and getting their names out there more.” – Chloé Hathaway, supervisor at Rise Uptown cafe

“Most memorable experience relating to Cartel would have to be my first day as manager of the shop. Such a wild and exciting feeling, to go from regular customer to managing one of the coolest, if not THE most aesthetically pleasing coffee shops in Tucson. Very proud moment.” – Colton Klein, store lead at Broadway in Tucson


Ok, we have a confession to make: This may shock you, but despite any rumors you may have heard, we don’t grow coffee trees behind our cafe. Sorry for any let-downs there. When you come to see us, we can offer you a fresh cup, crafted by our talented baristas, or you can create your own at home when you purchase a blend or single origin whole bean. We always know where our coffee comes from (again, not behind the cafe) and to us, that’s everything.

What is specialty coffee, exactly? Specialty coffee is – well  – special. Surely you could’ve guessed that. It refers to the highest grade of coffee available that tastes better. An essential part of determining which coffees are appropriate to sell is the simple act of tasting it, which is recognized in the industry as “cupping”. A coffee scoring 80 or higher out of 100 on a score sheet is considered specialty coffee.

There’s quite a journey from seed to cup, and our green coffee suppliers, Mercanta and Royal, like us, prioritize traceability, quality, sustainability, and fair pay for coffee producers. We trust them to provide us with excellent beans we’re proud to roast and serve.

Interested in trying our whole bean offerings, but aren’t sure where to begin? Take the quiz and discover your coffee.

More words from the Cartel crew: What’s your favorite whole bean coffee we’ve had and why?

“Very early on in my time at Cartel, we had a Guatemalan coffee called El Limonar. Upon tasting it, you were hit with this amazing lemony, citrus note that only increased as the coffee cooled. This was unlike anything I had tried before so after that, I was hooked.” – Jesse Pangburn, COO

“My favorite whole bean has been the Tatatu. Partially because everyone says it wrong and it’s hilarious and also because it’s just pretty damn good!” – Eboni Key, barista at Coronado cafe

“My favorite whole bean coffee we’ve had was the Banco Gotete. The Banco Gotete was my first exposure to a real, quality, Ethiopian coffee that really put into perspective that there are levels to this.” – Emiliano Borrego, barista at 5th ave


Here’s what it boils down to: We work with good people, and we offer good coffee that we love to share with our community. It’s the foundation in which we built ourselves on, and we’ll never change these aspects of our business.

What kind of content can you expect from The Filter? Stay tuned for coffee education, community-oriented content, how-to posts, and more. Welcome to our little coffee corner.



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