Nitrogen-Charged Coffee Has Arrived in Dallas

Categories: Coffee

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A small sample of Cuvée's Black and Blue settles on the patio at Mudsmith.
If the baristas at Mudsmith in East Dallas are anything, they are curious coffee makers. I've developed a habit of newspaper-reading while sitting at the bar, and on a few occasions I've watched as they tinker with something new. There was a brief stage where mixing stout and coffee seemed the thing to do, and there always seems to be a new beer on tap, which is passed around with interest.

The beers on hand are a mix of corporate and local breweries that rotate with some consistency, but the latest brew is actually a coffee -- a cold-brewed beverage that's served in a glass a lot like beer.

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Clay Eiland Is the Veteran Roaster of Dallas' Coffee Scene, and He's Not Slowing Down

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Eiland owner Clay Eiland.
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other extended interviews in our coffee archive, or see them all in one place in this week's feature story, "Roasting Dallas."

Clay Eiland talks about his roaster with the beaming face of a dad describing his four-year-old's soccer goal. But unlike that goal, this roaster is deserving of the pride: It's a Probat UG22, out of production and much sought after among roasters. Eiland jumped on the chance to own one of his own when it popped up for sale a few years ago. He is a gadget guy at heart, always on looking for the finest coffee equipment, and the Probat is clearly his most prized instrument.

Eiland is the roasting game's seasoned vet: He's been selling Eiland Coffee Roasters coffee for a decade in a half. During that time, he has seen trends come and go and come back again, but also many gradual shifts, such as an seeing industry that leaned heavily on flavored coffees and very dark roasts give way to much lighters roasts and an increased interest in espresso.

"In 1999 I visited Café Vita in Seattle and had my eyes opened to what coffee could be," he says. "I will never forget my wife's face as she drank her coffee and realized that she didn't need or want sugar added, that it was great as is. They were doing so many interesting things up there with roasting and pulling shots and preparing drinks. I was really inspired to bring those things back home to Dallas."

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For the Couple Behind Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters, a Hobby Became a Full-Time Job

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other extended interviews in our coffee archive, or see them all in one place in this week's feature story, "Roasting Dallas."

Every Saturday, Kevin and Mara Sprague get up before the sun and set up their tent, table and coffee equipment at the White Rock Local Market, which rotates between two East Dallas parking lots. They spend the next five hours there, talking to customers, sharing samples, sharing stories about their coffee, all smiles through the wind and rain of spring, the heat of summer, the cool mornings of fall. In the afternoon they break it all down and go home.

This, of course, is all after a seven-day work week spent roasting, bookkeeping and delivering coffee beans around DFW, work the couple does themselves. And yet, they're still standing.

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For Fort Worth's Avoca Coffee, It's All About Controlling the Supply Chain

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Gerald LaRue founded Avoca.
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other entries from the series in our coffee archive.

A few years back, after years spent behind coffee bars, Gerald LaRue decided it was time to delve deeper into the business of coffee. He ended up in Juno, Alaska with two bags to his name, and spent 18 months learning everything possible about roasting. He was immediately fascinated with the blend of craft and science required to roast good coffee.

"Chemistry, thermodynamics, and physics all play a role," says LaRaue, who started Avoca, his roasting company, in 2010. "And then on top of that you have to figure out what people are going to do with your coffee once you sell it to them. I like having to think up and down both ends of the supply chain, from the farmer to the customer."

For Avoca, this means an emphasis on control at as many links in the chain as possible, from the growing, to roasting, and even brewing.

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The Independent Coffee Roasters Helping Dallas' Craft-Coffee Business Boom

Categories: Coffee

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Like craft beer and chef-driven restaurants before it, specialty coffee is having its moment, finally, in Dallas: Davis Street Espresso, in Oak Cliff, has found that a lack of Wi-Fi and to-go cups has not meant a lack of customers. Ascension, in the Design District, hums all day, despite limited parking and drinks that take a team of scientists to engineer. And the original cool kid on the block, East Dallas' Pearl Cup, was replaced by the even more refined Houndstooth.

The birth of these locally owned specialty shops has also spurred the rise of a growing number of baristas who take their work seriously, and a customer base that wants what they have to offer and more. Along the way, the city has developed a strong contingent of roasters who provide much of the coffee being so carefully brewed and sipped.

So, we went looking for them. We found them in farmers markets, roasting rooms and cafes from East Dallas to Fort Worth. Each of the roasters you'll hear from below has been in the business for at least a year -- some much longer -- and have wholesale clients across the area. Some have their own coffee shops, while others have decided to pursue wholesale only. Each has his or her own roasting style, philosophy and thoughts on what makes for a successful coffee business. What unites them is an almost obsessive attention to supply chain detail. From farm choice, to roast profile, to packaging, nothing about their coffee is an accident. Neither, then, is the love that Dallas' coffee shops, and coffee snobs, are showing them.

Look for extended interviews with the roasters in our coffee archive.

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How Two In-Laws Turned a Coffee Obsession into Novel, a Burgeoning Roasting Business

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Novel Coffee co-founders Kevin Betts (left) and Ryan Smith
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other entries from the series in our coffee archive.

Kevin Betts and Ryan Smith are chasing the perfect cup. This never-ending pursuit eventually pulled these two brothers-in-law into forming Novel Coffee.

Both have been involved in the coffee industry for several years but began home roasting separately. Betts would buy 10 pounds of green coffee and meticulously explore every permutation possible, while Smith's approach was more about trying as many different coffees from as many different sources as he could find. Andrea, Smith's wife and Bett's sister, suggested that perhaps it was time they work together to build a company. One day, while cupping an Ethiopian Natural, they decided to make her suggestion a reality.

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In Praise of Ascension's Kyoto Brew, Dallas' Most Powerful Cup of Coffee

Categories: Coffee

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Nick Rallo
That's a Kyoto iced coffee, not a whiskey and coke.
There is no day on your future schedule, none whatsover, in which you will get more work done than the day you sipped a Kyoto Brew from Ascension. You know that level of caffenination when you find yourself saying words at ten times the normal volume, and your laughs burst out like overblown microphones? When you say "YES ABSOLUTELY!" in work meetings so loud the person next to you goes to plug their ears? That's the iced coffee at Starbucks. The Kyoto Brew is something else entirely. On the caffeination scale, the Kyoto Brew is: Your Eyes are Headlights on a Truck.

It comes in a short glass, loaded with ice like a whiskey and coke. Its color is somewhere in between chocolate and mahogany. It's simple -- just a little single of the concentrated, cold brew with some crystal clear ice chips -- and it will immediately turn your brain into a Christmas tree. There is no day in the past five years wherein I've gotten more done than after the morning I downed a Kyoto Brew for the first time.

Recently, I saddled up to the Ascension bar to sip another small glass of Dallas' most powerful coffee. Here's a breakdown of where my brain went in the minutes after drinking the Kyoto:

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How East Dallas' Cultivar Coffee Came to Be, and Where It's Headed in 2015

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. Monday we introduced you to the guy behind Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, and yesterday the guys behind Tweed.

Jonathan Meadows was 18 when he started working at White Rock Coffee and fell in love with coffee culture. "A big piece of it was the culture of the coffee shop," says Meadows, who owns Cultivar Coffee, the Dallas-based roaster, with business partner Nathan Shelton. "You spend time with the same people day after day and eventually it starts to feel like home." He also loved the satisfaction of working with his hands and getting to see the direct result of his work. It was there that he also met Shelton.

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From the Guys Behind Houndstooth, Tweed Coffee Is Lighting Up Dallas' Coffee Scene

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Tweed roaster Jonathan Aldrich.
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. Yesterday, we introduced you to the guy behind Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters.

When it was announced, almost a year ago, that the original Pearl Cup coffee shop on Henderson Avenue would close, highly caffeinated tears were shed: It was local, it was beloved, and now it was gone. And then it sat empty for months, paper shielding its windows, keeping its future in the dark.

That future belonged to Sean Henry, whose Houndstooth Coffee has been waking up Austin for years and finally opened in Dallas this summer. But Henry's more than a coffee-shop owner. His new, Dallas-based roasting company, Tweed, is finding its way into cafes around the city. It's a lot to juggle for he and roaster Jonathan Aldrich, but the juggling is what makes both business work, Henry says.

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The Origins of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Shannon Neffendorf brought a coffee obsession home from Italy.
Shannon Neffendorf's entry into coffee roasting came out of selfish necessity. His job with Blockbuster (remember that) required work trips to Milan several times a year, and he soon found himself meeting with friends for cappuccino in the morning and taking a break for an espresso in the afternoon.

"I was really impressed with the commitment to excellence," he says. "Everywhere you went it seemed like baristas were very dedicated to their craft." Frustrated he couldn't to find that experience back in Dallas, he began roasting at home, on his front porch with a popcorn popper.

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters was born several years later, when friends began throwing money at Neffendorf in exchange for some home-roasted coffee. In January 2009, Crooked Tree Coffeehouse became his first wholesale client, and Neffendorf quit his job at Blockbuster to go into roasting full-time.

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