A little heaven in every cup of coffee

They recently appeared on Grant Road for a new casino that is moving. The old theater that once stood for decades is just a memory of dusty ruins. Now we await what could be the complete reinvention of that wasteland off I-10. Although a curious corner cafe has been elegantly serving up some of Tucson’s best brews for over three years now.

Most likely you drove past it on your way to or from the freeway (that’s always been my experience with that place). A slight glance to my right or left and behold, Blessed lands. I usually kept driving, but everything changed on one particular day.

Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

It was early and the late morning overcast with a hint of wearing a hood. Finally giving in to my curiosity about this cafe that I had passed by many times, I parked the car and entered the Blessed Grounds.

Okay, wow. Why hadn’t I stopped here before? The space is small but extremely clean and comfortable. To the left is a full coffee bar, with bags of house-roasted coffee, boxes of teas and Blessed Grounds products scattered across comfortable seating. The interior is only slightly beguiled by its exterior. Is this a chain coffee concept? It’s almost too nice not to be.

To find out what the coffee was all about, I ordered something fairly basic to make sure they had a base to build on on a return visit. The decision was a double shot cappuccino. When it arrived, garnished with a frothy flower, I was impressed with the complexity of the espresso.

Rich, bold, with a hint of sweetness and earthiness, it was great. So they probably get their beans wholesale from some major label. No.

General Director Amy Prilaman explained that they do all their roasting in house and buy beans from fair trade farmers around the world. I thought to myself, there is no way they can do all that BBQ in such a tight space.

Coffee roaster at Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

He then led me back to a large storage room attached to the coffee bar. Flags of the bags decorate the walls of the area: Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Honduras and more, as well as bags of unroasted coffee on the shelves. There, in the center of it all, was the ox. It’s not a big man at all, but one built specifically for the Blessed Grounds.

“Are you sure you’re not a chain?”

Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Blessed Grounds was actually based on a vision. Owner and founder Jared Wright was traveling in California when an image of coffee roasters and hands holding beans popped into his head. He also saw lines across a map of America that gave him the idea that through coffee we could all come together in peace and harmony. Wright, being a reasonable man, really didn’t know what to make of it all. Although his faith led him to a small corner of Tucson to open a coffee spot that could truly bring us all together.

Prilaman informed me that the tour he was doing wasn’t just for curious food writers. At any time, the staff at Blessed Grounds will be more than happy to give you a grand run of the facilities, as they take no pride in what they do. Better yet, Blessed Grounds offers courses on what real coffee it’s how it’s processed, roasted, and further ground into lattes, mochas, espressos, and even a big cup of morning joe.

Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

My time with Prillaman really opened me up to different aspects of coffee production. I’ve worked as a barista for both corporate and private coffee nuances in my time, so I thought I knew it all. Not even close. I had no idea that if certain beans were roasted a certain way, the tomato flavor element could shine through on the palette. Tomato. Have you ever cooked tomatoes in the morning? Exactly right.

Then there’s all the charity work.

Blessed Grounds is definitely one of those places that practices what it preaches. They regularly donate 5% of their retail revenue to charities, esp Children’s home, Action Resource Arizonaand: Arizona Teen Challenge to name a few. in cooperation with Open Ministries, Blessed Grounds has helped those in need or recovering by providing a safe place to turn. There’s a multi-billion dollar coffee empire named after a goddess that does what Blessed Grounds does. So everything and them.

Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

The rear storage isn’t just for storing and roasting the 520’s best coffee; oh no On more than one occasion, the space will open for live music, dancing, community meetings and fundraisers. They roll up the big sliding door, put together a band or DJ booth, and invite the surrounding community to have a good time.

You get your fill of all that coffee, so you might as well dance it away.

Coffee is only one aspect of Blessed Grounds as I was more than excited to try their range of house blended teas. One of my favorites has to be Southern Belle, a loose green tea that sits nicely along an essence of peach, orange and ginger. This is good hot or cold, like a desert paradise where rose, hibiscus, apricot, lavender and cornflowers rejoice.

Tea is stirred at Blessed Grounds (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Winter is still here, but spring is on the way with the withered promise of summer, and their teas will soothe and calm any temperature, any time of day.

Making your experience at Blessed Grounds even more divine are confections, either baked in-house or provided by a nearby friend, for dipping or to sit alongside your glass. The daily range changes regularly, so visiting them is like a surprise party thrown just for you. Cranberry scones? Chocolate cookie. Muffins? Regardless of the drink, the drinks will inspire a rainbow sprinkle from the sky.

(Photo by Blessed Grounds on Facebook)

Now that I’m familiar with the Blessed Grounds, it will definitely be a stop on that stretch of Grant Road where there doesn’t seem to be much going on. As construction on that casino continues, those working on it who need a good raise need only look down the street. Delicious coffee, creative drinks, delicious teas and sweet drinks await them, you, me and everyone in between.

It’s like we asked for something like this in an area that once lacked caffeine salvation. Looks like our prayers have been answered.

Blessed Grounds is open Monday through Saturday 6:00am to 3:00pm, Sunday 8:00am to 3:00pm and is located at 902 W. Grant Rd. For more information, visit blessedgrounds.com or follow Blessed Grounds on Facebook and Instagram.