Being the foodie snob I am, I sometimes fail to recognize the smaller places. The cafes that keep us all going with coffee, pastries and lighter fare. The type of place that makes us feel warm and cozy, like a home away from home.

For me, Fair Trade Café is my go-to place. With two great downtown locations, one on First Avenue, the other on Central … depending where my schedule takes me I’m sure to hit up at least one of them several times a week.

I met some friends at the First Avenue location yesterday. They took the light rail, which conveniently stops right across the street. I thought it would be the perfect spot for us to relax and catch up, and it was. I kinda felt like we were on an episode of “Friends,” sitting on comfy couches, drinking our delicious lattes and chatting away.

We couldn’t figure out what to order so we ended up getting a few things and split them up. Everything was so good. We all loved the Veggie Hummus Sandwich and the Curry Chicken Sandwich, which is one of my favorites; chicken salad mixed with just the right amount of curry, craisins, pecans, celery and green onions. Yums.

But the big winner, the one we had to order more of or there may have been bloodshed, was the Stuffed Croissant. Three kinds, all delish, especially the spinach and feta.

I just love the atmosphere at Fair Trade. The calming music blends right into the background, making it easy to enjoy conversation. They do host open mics on certain nights of the week. I’ve yet to see one but I hear they’re great fun with quality local talent. Fair Trade Café’s support of local talent is visible on their walls, showcasing art from local painters and photographers.

Just a great vibe all around, including the friendly staff. The motto at Fair Trade Café is “Coffee with a Conscience.” They’ve extended their “fair trade” values to include not just coffee, but most of the ingredients on their menu. As a lifelong Phoenix resident, I truly appreciate that they use local products.

I didn’t mean to take you for granted, Fair Trade. Thank you for consistently providing me with top-notch coffee, homemade treats, delicious food and a laid-back, welcoming environment where I can periodically escape the daily grind.

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