Davis Street Espresso: No WiFi, No Splenda, No Skim Milk, No To-Go Cups, No Problem

Categories: Coffee

Davis-street-outside.JPG
It's not easy to be in the coffee-shop game these days. Craft coffee isn't cheap, and if you don't have something else with decent margins to sell alongside it, you could be in big trouble.

This has led many a business-minded person to create their coffee program in tandem with a restaurant, bar or boutique. However if you are Shannon Neffendorf, owner of Davis Street Espresso (819 W Davis Street), then you double down on the coffee, which you conveniently roast in the same space under the name Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. Having a roasting company as his primary business gives Neffendorf some freedom to play with his idea of the ideal coffee shop. What he created is a stripped down concept where the coffee is the heart of everything they do, and it works because the coffee is good. Really good.

On New Year's Day I arrived at Davis Street Espresso somewhat bright and early because I'd rather start off 2014 with good coffee than the impending doom of a juice cleanse or whatever it is that other people do. Plus there was a bonus that day: free donuts.

I ordered an Americano made with OCCR's Hidden City Espresso. If a regular cup of coffee is more your thing you can order a cup made in their Steampunk, with the usual offerings being the Rosemont Blend and a seasonal rotator. Regular mornings at Davis Street also include a limited number of pastries, like chocolate croissants from Rush Patisserie and churros and donuts from Vera's Bakery.

It's important to know that no one is in a hurry here. It's not that they're lazy -- quite the opposite, actually -- but the baristas are going to take the right amount of time to make your drink and are undeterred by whatever ants have made their home in your pants. No one that works there ever seems stressed, and you should take that as an invitation to not be stressed either.

All the fuss will be worth it, too, if my Americano was any indication. They are serving the best coffee in town, these baristas: Not only are the beans are well sourced, roasted with love and served with skill, but the setting and people make it a one-of-a-kind gem not to be missed.

Davis-street-americano.JPG

The space is an extension of the simple, thoughtful menu. Wooden booths and walls provide an intimate setting for meeting up with friends or making new ones. If you live, work or spend time in Oak Cliff, odds are you will run into someone you know. On this morning there was Johnny Cash playing on the record player. Music is a new addition to the shop, but as with all things around there, they added it their way. Minimal distractions mean greater opportunities to interact with other humans, which is a pastime from the '30s or something.

If small children bother you, Davis Street Espresso is not for you. There are always adorably wild children with their graphic designing/wedding photographing/artisanal soap making/wood-whittling parents in the kid's area in the back. Guys with mustaches, slightly worn work boots, and flannel. Petite ladies with effortlessly tousled hair, an oversized tunic, and the faint smell of essential oils. Everyone looks like the fell out of a Kinfolk magazine, and they all have kids in tow.

It's worth noting that Davis Street Espresso has very particular hours: During the week they close at 11 a.m., and on Saturdays you have to pack your things up at 2. They're closed Sunday and Monday. There are some other quirks as well that the average coffee shop goer might not expect. Based on multiple opportunities to eavesdrop on new customers, I have created a handy FAQ to help with your first visit:

1. Can I get my drink to-go?
Only if you brought your own mug or buy one of theirs. No paper cups to be found.
2. Can I have a non-fat latte?
No, currently they only serve organic whole milk.
3. Can I have a soy cappuccino, please?
NO, CURRENTLY THEY ONLY SERVE ORGANIC WHOLE MILK. (Sometimes the baristas have to say this several times in a row. They are always very nice about it. I would just get a shirt made.)
4. Can I have a vanilla latte? No, currently they only serve sugar cubes for your sweetening enjoyment. Also no Splenda and the like.
5. What is the wi-fi password? There is no wi-fi. Neffendorf is a Luddite. Plus they aren't open long enough for you to set up a remote office anyway. Consider reading a book or talking with a friend.

If you can get past the quirks, or better yet embrace them, then you might decide to make Davis Street Espresso a regular thing in your life. If so, I'll see you there.

This coffee shop is good for:
- journaling (everyone is doing it, though why I have no idea)
- baby holding
- running into friends
- picking up home brewing supplies
- warm neighborhood fuzzies

My Voice Nation Help
51 comments
DFWCoffeeGrl
DFWCoffeeGrl

@monstruss Nope. Just a loyal customer that doesn't like seeing a good company shit on by you people. 

fixienodickie
fixienodickie

I will try them again but here were my issues.

1.)I was told by someone that their toilets empty into a large container so that locals can use the waste to fertilize their organic gardens. Have yet to confirm.

2.)One day I went in a little after 6AM and I was in a bit of a hurry so I was a little annoyed that they decided to get rid of the iPad register and were calculating my order on an abacus. That was it for me. I grabbed my kerosene lamp and made my way home.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Maybe they just need to update the menu:


Drip coffee: $3

Espresso: $4

Sugar: Free w/drink

Whole Milk: Free w/drink

Splenda: $100/pkt

Soy Milk: $500/oz

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

I seriously might start going here just to escape all the splenda/soy/cinnamon/pumpkin spice/twigs/berries motherfuckers.


If you don't like coffee, don't drink it.  If you have to put so much shit in it that it no longer tastes like coffee, that is an indicator that you don't actually like coffee.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

They lost me for good when describing the hordes of "wild" children.  Sounds as if the hipster parents passed along their caffeine addiction to their spawn.

DFWCoffeeGrl
DFWCoffeeGrl

You are all idiots.  It's not that they are excluding you, or refuse to serve you what you want.  They aren't even hipsters!  Have you met Shannon? It's that their product does not need all the added bullshit and they don't want to cover up what they have worked hard to create (all the way from farm to cup) with the bullshit that the chain places have brainwashed you into believing you need. It's not about anything more than simple delicious coffee and being apart of the community for them.  


I'm lactose intolerant.  I order black coffee…. Or an espresso…. Or an Americano. Solved.  If it's done right, its delicious.  They do it right. 


If you were anything more than a fast food coffee chain/gas station coffee connoisseur you would realize that you are talking out of your ass.  If you don't get it, or think it's silly, or feel it's a bad business model.  Fine.  Go elsewhere.   There are PLENTY of other options in the metroplex.  All Davis Street Espresso is, is a showroom for Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters' coffee and an added tax write off for their primary business.   


On another note.  Don't take the tone of the way this article is written as the voice of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters/Davis Street Espresso.  They aren't the talk down at people type. They are quite approachable, and genuinely nice.  Something that is quite easy to pick up on, if you have spent any time in there. The journalist that wrote this did them a disservice by not showcasing the people behind the coffee and the reasoning for why they sell coffee in this manner. Of course it's easy to shake a fist at them for these beliefs is there was no reasoning behind the thought process presented in the article. 

Izzie
Izzie

Hate that Oak Cliff is becoming another Uptown. I have lived in the neighborhood for over a decade and businesses like this who promote exclusion under the disguise of hip, sustainable, unique, etc are no better than their cohorts in Uptown or north Dallas.

swag
swag

It's so "American" these days to define yourself not on what you are or what you do, but by what you aren't or by what you don't do. It's life in the negative rather than the positive.


And btw, Kraft coffee is exceptionally cheap: it's called Maxwell House.

rwells138
rwells138

I love the comments on business models or acumen.

dallas_fails_again
dallas_fails_again

Hey you whiny fucks.  Want vanilla?  Want soy?  Want Splenda?


GO TO STARBUCKS FFS THERE'S ALREADY ONE ON EVERY CORNER IN THIS GODFORSAKEN COFFEE WASTELAND


I haven't been to Davis St. Coffee so I can't comment on it but I'm still grateful there's at least one more place in Dallas that understands a "macchiato" doesn't come with caramel.

Poonariffic
Poonariffic

Only for pretentious hipsters that aren't allergic to milk. Cool. Or you know NOT. Awful business model.

yourmomdotcom
yourmomdotcom

So what if they don't have all the fluff you see at other coffee shops.  It isn't Starbucks or McDonalds.  Let them serve coffee the way they want to serve coffee. If simple delicious coffee that needs no cover-up or gimmick isn't your thing, don't go there. The people that work there are exceptionally kind and are passionate about what they do.  The result is delicious coffee and a great overall experience. They aren't mean about it… at all.  I've been a number of times.  In fact, I am willing to say they are some of the nicest people in the DFW coffee industry. Turn over a new leaf.  Have a new kind of coffee experience. You might actually like it.  At the very least, quit bitching that it isn't the same old crap on every corner. That's the point.

rwells138
rwells138

I hate this place - because I love it so much. Please don't change. See ya tomorrow. - Robby

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

A Crafted Cup Of Coffee ?


Here's your sign ....


The SPACE AVAILABLE   !

MattL11
MattL11

Basically, if I like my coffee black, I'll be pleased? 

monstruss
monstruss

"Lactose-intolerant? GO FUCK YOURSELF"  is kind of a shady policy. 

scottba.home
scottba.home

No Splenda only sugar.  Well if you are diabetic and like your coffee sweet your basically screwed at this place of business.  Is that discrimination based on ADA?

Kevin
Kevin

Yes, they do have their own rules for how their coffee is served.  I don't know if that makes them "hipster" but as a chef I certainly do understand the connection a craftsman has to their product.  They aren't trying to keep anyone from enjoying their coffee.  But if you want to enjoy their coffee, you must enjoy it the way they choose to serve it.


I don't go all the time.  But when I do I appreciate the care that went into creating a "simple" cup of coffee.

aarong.aaron
aarong.aaron

While obviously not for everyone, the hospitality and quality of coffee that Davis St. offers is unmatched. Great article Liz.

frasin66
frasin66

Walk in the sun.


Here, in

the sweet

atmosphere

created by a

sullen desire,

the light of

a new day

invites me

to smile near

a delicate branch.


Francesco Sinibaldi

txcounsel
txcounsel

The pretentiousness of this place cannot be overstated.  We live walking distance from it and have been a few times, mostly for the comedy.  It's like a performance art piece on affectation.

txcounsel
txcounsel

@DFWCoffeeGrl  "and an added tax write off for their primary business.  "   And there it is.

monstruss
monstruss

@DFWCoffeeGrl I hope you're not associated with this place, because you're an awful spokesperson. 

lizgoulding
lizgoulding

@DFWCoffeeGrl  While I would love to write a novel about Davis Street Espresso, because my love for them does indeed go on and on, I erred on the side of brevity, this being the internet and all. Also, I just happened to have already asked Shannon approximately 8 billion questions about his coffee and shop last year when they opened and that conversation is stored conveniently in the archives for your enjoyment:


http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/cityofate/2013/08/shannon_neffendorfs_oak_cliff.php

rwells138
rwells138

@IzzieAre you suggesting that the place is like an Uptown place?  If so, what place?  I want to go.

CoffeeGirl
CoffeeGirl

@rwells138 Right? It's actually a sustainable business model - they already have the space for roasting, no reason not to open it for morning/early afternoon coffee service.

Also, drives me nuts that people get on here to slam someone else's business model that presumably they know very little about. 

monstruss
monstruss

@dallas_fails_again How about if I want soy or splenda (gross), I can go to Murray St Coffee, Mudsmith, The Pearl Cup, or any number of coffee establishments that AREN'T up its own asshole. Enjoy the screaming kids, moron. 

dallas_fails_again
dallas_fails_again

I just have to add... it's like these people won't be happy until every trace of individuality is stamped fully out of Dallas, and the entire city just becomes one enormous Frisco - a sea of cookie-cutter chain restaurants and prefab furniture stores.


One guy starts up one quirky business with its own agenda and instead of focusing on the quality of *what they're actually doing* you people bitch about a bunch of shit he *isn't* doing.


If you're lactose intolerant or diabetic, there's an easy health choice to make here: drink the coffee black.  Who knows MAYBE YOU'LL LIKE IT JUST THE WAY IT COMES.


And if you don't, lucky you, there are still 24,338 Starbucks just in East Dallas alone, dying to make you an extra-hot nonfat triple soy latte with two pumps of sugarfree gingerbread spice.


To *fucking* go.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@MattL11 I like my coffee like I like my women -- black and bitter.  


Coffee doesn't need anything, except a cup and a saucer.

BGBG
BGBG

@monstruss No it isn't.  You aren't REQUIRED to put anything in your coffee and not every business is tailor made for every individual, nor are they beholden to any people's desires other than those they wish to serve.


I guarantee there are PLENTY of coffee snobs who will gladly make up for any loss of the very specific niche market of "Lactose-intolerant coffee drinker who doesn't like their coffee black".

CoffeeGirl
CoffeeGirl

@scottba.home It's not discrimination.  No restaurant or coffee shop is obligated to provide sugar, equal, splenda, agave, honey, stevia or any other sweetener.  If it matters that much to you, bring a packet or twelve.

rubberduky
rubberduky

Really ??? your going to be a bitch about this place not having Splenda, and play the Americans with disabilities act card. These people are doing something new and you act like that. Don't go there. They are not going to miss your piddly-ass 3 or 4 dollars. Pansie  ;)

rwells138
rwells138

@KevinWe seem to live in a world where most consumers cannot handle being served by people that are smarter than them.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

@frasin66  I'll have the same coffee Francesco ordered, please.

txcounsel
txcounsel

I will add this.  The coffee is good.  These folks take the roasting part of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters very seriously and they are great at it.  More than that, they are good and generous neighbors who contribute to most of the events in the 'hood.   I just don't get the retail shop.  Sorry.

Izzie
Izzie

@rwells138 @Izzie Actually what I am trying to say is it is worse.  Try out Sip Stir on McKinney Ave. or Crooked Tree Coffee House on Routh (who actually serves coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters.)  These are independent places that provide options to their customers instead of practicing exclusion.

Now you can't go to Bishop Arts without having to use the valet for parking.  Brooklyn Jazz Cafe was run off by the obnoxious owners of Hattie's. Vitto's was replaced by upscale Oddfellows, Tillmans was changed from an awesome cafe to an outlandish and outlandishly expensive steak house. You can go to places like Hunky's and Eno's but again you have to use the valet service most of the time on weekends.  Used to be such a unique place to live but it is quickly becoming only for the rich.

rwells138
rwells138

@CoffeeGirl  A common trait among all smart business minds:  frequent internet commenting.

monstruss
monstruss

@BGBG@monstruss I'm sure his place will be a huge yuppie magnet, but I certainly won't be going back. People like their coffee a certain way, and there's no reason I should bother with a place that's unaccommodating for the sake of pretension. Also, the cold-brew coffee in the topo-chico bottles tastes like shit. 

scottba.home
scottba.home

@rubberduky Me a pansie???  You respond to my relatively benign complaint but not the one that says GO FUCK YOURSELF??  Your the pansie!

scottba.home
scottba.home

@rubberduky No they won't miss my 3 or 4 dollars or from anyone else because their main business is coffee roasting and home delivery.  Love all the hyperbole though.

Still makes you the bitch since you won't go after that other commenter.  Scared?

rubberduky
rubberduky

LOCAL HEADLINES NEW : Dallas resident, sues coffee shop owner over not having Splenda, and is banned from the shop for throwing fits of rage and showing pictures of people with diabetes that need that Splenda, ONLY from Davis Street Espresso. More to follow...........

rubberduky
rubberduky

Your the bitch that wants to play the card game. It's like the race card. I can walk in anywhere and accept a retail environment as is, without complaining. When you throw some bullshit comment about discrimination over a simple condiment your really being a.........BITCH.

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