Aware, Las Vegas, NV
590 Painted Mirage Rd Suite 130, Las Vegas, NV 89149
Nothing beats convenience. I love when a local coffee shop is nearby to my home or on my commute to work. During the week, I tend to make my own pour-overs at home. Or in this case of the past month, in my hotel room. It saves me a little cash and if I’m honest, I rarely leave on time to get coffee AND not be late to work. While in Vegas, I stayed four of my five weeks on the northern edge of Vegas near Centennial Hills. Once I found out that this coffee shop was on my route to work, it became a repeat visit. It was added bonus that they give a discount to first responders and military personnel.
Meet Aware Coffee and Tea Lounge.
Richie Liu, the owner and mastermind behind Aware, has had roots in this space since 2010. The shop, however, hasn’t always been about coffee. Originally, Richie’s parents owned the space as a restaurant featuring bowls and boba. During that period, Richie spent some time in the Bay Area and became inspired by the specialty coffee scene, particularly that offered by shops such as Blue Bottle. When he returned to Las Vegas, he wanted to bring a little slice of that to the desert of Las Vegas.
After some remodeling and redesign, Richie re-opened the space in 2017 as a specialty coffee and tea shop, with a special flair of boba. He’s been able to keep an essence of his roots, while adapting it to the specialty coffee scene.
The shop’s coffee bar is set against the backdrop of light steel gray back wall with a sleek, silver La Marzocco espresso machine smack in the middle. The black and white menu sits lit-up on a simple display. Dark gray couches and brown leather table seating set a cozy vibe for customers. Richie has certainly brought a slice of Blue Bottle’s minimalist scene to this space.
Aware features Third Wave coffee shop elements. It’s got a pour-over option, espresso based drinks, cold brew and a range of signature lattes. Like a great shop, they only use real ingredients in their syrups. Richie explained: '“I do my best to stick to the small-batch house made path for all flavorings. There is just a cleaner & deeper flavor that comes from dialing real ingredients.”
Richie draws inspiration from other coffee shop and looks to cocktails for flavor possibilities. I heard word on the street that their mint latte was a must have item, so I ordered that first. I was so pleased to see big, beautiful mint leaves in my latte, as opposed to a sugary mint syrup. I’d highly recommend! Had it not been 6 PM, I would have probably gone for the Bourbon Vanilla Latte next after hearing the description — strong with flavor, but not too sweet.
What about the coffee beans?
Aware utilizes an organic and Fair trade blend of Sicilian espresso beans for their espresso based drinks. For their pour-over and drip coffee, they brew a roast based out of Tempe, Arizona: Infusion Tea and Coffee. Infusion utilizes a rigorous testing and quality assurance process for their beans. They work both directly with coffee farmers worldwide and vetted coffee importers to source the best green beans.
In the mid to long term, Richie is interested in expanding to feature multiple roasters; we may see a greater variety of single origin coffees and a couple espresso options.
Plus Tea and Boba
The menu doesn’t end with coffee. The other half of the menu features premium teas, matcha, iced teas and smoothies. Truly — it’s got it all!
I learned that boba are chewy little black balls made from tapioca, a gluten-free starch extracted from the cassava plant. They’ve got a little sugar, but I mean, a milk tea with boba has about the same amount as a coca-cola. So it ain’t that bad!
Prior to Aware, I had never tried Boba so Richie vectored me toward the Taro Milk Tea + boba. Taro can most easily be thought of as a purple potato. Interestingly, raw taro is toxic, but it’s delicious when used to sweeten Taro tea. It was a nice sweet treat to end my night.
But, don’t forget food!
I am here for coffee shops that offer just the right amount of foodie options. They speak to my millennial generation heart.
Like a good coffee shop, Aware features an offering of avocado toast options (winning already), sandwiches and desserts. I fluctuated back and forth between an avocado toast and sandwich, but rested my decision on the Fig Butter Cheddar Sandwich. I can’t say no to a good grilled cheese. Coming with a side little ginger salad, it was the perfect cheesy goodness with a little flair to accompany my afternoon’s Mint Latte.
The Bottom Line
Aware will make the trip up to northern Las Vegas worth it. They’re full offering of coffee, tea, boba and solid menu items make this a great stop to perch out for studying or work. It’s impressive how Aware has been able to maintain high quality on such a diverse menu. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes your place to visit before starting Saturday errands.