Eugenia Tai illustrates according to the flavors of each coffee or tea (Photo courtesy of Pair Cupworks)

This Eastern-fusion specialty coffee cafe is tucked inside Cider Corp

This new, delicious specialty coffee shop comes with an interesting twist–it’s tucked inside the Cider Corps taproom in downtown Mesa. Pair Coffee & Tea fills the space with the smell of coffee in the morning and closes at night when Cider Corps flicks on its lights.

Owners Kimhak Em and Eugenia Tai, also fiancees, make an excellent team. Em went to culinary school and focuses on flavors; Tai studied graphic design and maintains their website and illustrations. 

“I’ve always been in the food and beverage industry,” said Em, who previously worked as a barista and in drink development at Peixote in Chandler. “I used to cycle quite a bit when I lived in the Bay area and go to my friend’s coffee shop. I fell in love with the culture; it was very big in the coffee scene.”

Kimhak Em, former barista at Peixoto, offers culinary quality at Pair Coffee & Tea. (Photo Courtesy of Pair Cupworks)

Pair Coffee & Tea first started as a pop-up in 2018. On the weekends, Em said they would open at Cider Corps, utilize the space in the morning, and close at night.

“Everything we’ve done by building our business slowly,” said Em. When they learned they could use the space on the weekdays, they leaped at the opportunity to grow organically.

Em and Tai are both Asian Americans. Em described the menu as a fusion of Eastern flavors with an American twist on it.

“America is such a big melting pot of culture,” Em said. “I think our food and culture should also be a big melting pot of ingredients.”

Pair serves cold brew and pour-over coffee with specific, flavorful notes. The Vietnamese-style latte is made with sweet condensed milk. A red bean latte is also offered along with a spiced caramel latte, a black sesame latte (which has a bit of a nutty flavor) and loose leaf teas with mouth-watering descriptions. 

Pour over coffee is a growing trend in specialty coffee, served here. (Photo courtesy of Pair Cupworks)

The competition baozhong is described as “floral, sweet cream, buttery” while the Gyokuro is “brothy, umami, grass notes.”

“We try to capture the spirit of the coffee or the overall sensation you may get,” said Tai, who uses this inspiration when designing illustrations for packaging labels, or graphics. “If it’s very energizing or fruity or has a weirder flavor profile, I’ll take that as initial inspiration.”

Not only are they particular about sourcing and fair trade, but Tai also tries to be exact when she’s designing a logo or graphic.

“It doesn’t take long sitting in front of a computer to do that work,” Tai said. “But I have hours where I just sit and think, oh, what does this taste like? Or break down the flavor profile and get to know the coffee.”

Coffee and tea drinkers–as well as foodies who appreciate quality–can stop by Pair Coffee & Tea, a must-visit at the corner of South Robson Road and Main Street. 

You can also visit their website at https://paircupworks.com/.

Author

  • Allison Cripe

    Allison Cripe is a guest writer for the Mesa Legend. She also writes songs and short stories such as this one in Across the Margin: https://acrossthemargin.com/flesh-colored-shell/. Dogs are her spirit animal(s).