Late for the Train, located far away from the downtown traffic and crowds, has been my favorite coffee shop experience, thus far, amongst the multitude of options available in the Flagstaff area.
The friendly service, quality espresso drinks, unique atmosphere (in a converted gas station), and nice location (on the way to the Snowbowl, many hikes, and the Grand Canyon) make this local roaster a great choice for locals and travelers alike. This review is for the Fort Valley location along Hwy 180. Another location exists in downtown Flagstaff, although this particular one offers higher quality drinks and a better ambiance.
At Late for the Train you can order from a full menu of specialty drinks including the usuals like Cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas. Non dairy milk alternatives are available. They even carry a special pumpkin spice blend all year, so you don't have to wait to the fall season to order your favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte. Around the holidays, they offer a delicious Polar Express mocha. The Dark Skies Mocha is another must try.
The Americano is perfectly rich and smooth without a hint of dreaded burnt flavor and served in cool glass mugs. These double insulated glass mugs are perfect as they keep the drinks warmer forever so you can enjoy a relaxing, non rushed experience. I am glad that they had mugs available as opposed to just paper cups, like a few of my recent coffee shop experiences.
Prices are a bit steep (as has been the case in almost all of Flagstaff) although the quality of drinks is much higher than elsewhere in town. Be prepared to pay up to a whopping $6 for a mocha and more than $3 for a simple Americano.
In addition to drinks, a few pastries and pre-made burritos are available. The burritos are delicious - a nice quick, cheap breakfast before hitting the trails or slopes!
Service was much friendlier and more relaxed than all the coffee shops I've visited downtown. It still wasn't the small talk, personalized service type shop (which unfortunately doesn't exist in this area), but decently friendly nonetheless. And we did not feel rushed in anyway while ordering or enjoying our drinks.
Unlike many of the bland, overcrowded, overhyped coffee shops in Flagstaff, Late for the Train offers an eclectic setting in a gas station from the 60's. The atmosphere is relaxed and not overly congested making it a perfect stop after skiing or hiking at Snowbowl. It's also a great place to just chill out with some good drinks. I love coming during the winter months (after snowshoeing) and sipping a nice hot espresso while gazing out unto the snow covered pines.
The music is just loud enough to enjoy, yet not overpowering. They sell some food, but not enough to draw large crowds. There is not much seating available, however, it tends to be pretty slow if you arrive early enough in the morning.
The old steel and glass used to build the old station still remains, along with a few wood accents to give it a mountain feeling. Although the original gas pumps are gone, the pump canopy still stands today, and is used as an outdoor seating area.
In my opinion, the best aspect of Late for the Train is the large windows with views of the beautiful pines and aspens. For some reason, most restaurants & cafes in the Flagstaff area do not take advantage of the beautiful surroundings. Who wants to look at another building - I'd rather look at the beautiful trees!
Late for the Train also has its' own parking lot so you do not have to search for a spot. I like the fact that the business stands on its' own, surrounded by the trees, as opposed to being located in a noisy strip mall. It's a nice quiet area without much traffic noise or other businesses.
As another advantage, Late for the Train's location on Hwy 180 makes it a convenient stop for those making their way to numerous popular attractions including the Snowbowl, Snowbowl area hiking trails, and the Grand Canyon.
Late for the Train is Flagstaff's best coffee shop. With 2 convenient locations, delicious drinks, and a better ambiance than other local coffee shops, there really is no reason not to choose Late for the Train for your morning cup of joe.