2015 SCT Day 11 – Davis Street Espresso, FTW!!

Monday, April 6 – my last full day of “vacation.”

I drove over to Love Field and had lunch with Dayl. She works for Southwest, and she signed me into the Compound so I could check it out and eat lunch with her in their cafeteria. Southwest seems like a pretty cool place to work! If I had worked for a company that had a “People Department” and encouraged everyone to treat everyone else as part of a big family, and had common areas for employees to interact or just “hang out” with each other, instead of tracking everywhere I went on the internet (and then sending the list to my managers) and only allowing “7 pieces of flare” on people’s desks – I might have enjoyed Korporate Amerika a little more. I experienced the same thing when I was in Austin, and went to visit the company I’d been contracted to write for. It’s nice to see that some companies encourage a little actual diversity and creativity. So nice job, Southwest!

dayl and ace at southwest
dayl and ace at southwest

After lunch, I drove over to visit my last stop on the Texas leg of the Spring Coffee Tour. I had read a few articles, and tried to choose my location wisely… I chose Davis Street Espresso on – you guessed it – Davis Street, in what seems to be referred to as the Tyler-Davis neighborhood. The shop is the retail space for Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. Their main business is roasting beans, but the Davis Street space is amazing and a great stand-alone coffee shop. As soon as I walked in I got chills and that semi-giddy feeling knowing I was about to have a great cup of coffee…
Two very pleasant people helped me with ordering a latte and picking out some freshly roasted beans to take home with me. Then I watched the barista make my latte on their super fancy Bosco espresso machine. Boscos are lever espresso machines – you pull a shot by literally pulling a long lever. There are no automatic functions on the machine – it’s completely manual. Meaning of course, you really need to know what you’re doing to make a good espresso. Bosco machines are made in Italy and this one looked beautiful! And so did my latte, when it arrived, completely filled to the brim of a lovely blue cup on a lovely blue saucer. I was in heaven already.

oooooooooohhhhh
oooooooooohhhhh

I did the obligatory photo taking, then sat down and stared at my coffee for a few minutes. Again – savoring the anticipation. I really enjoy that feeling… I took a sip. It did not disappoint. At all.

oooooooooohhhhh some more
oooooooooohhhhh some more

I did a little people-watching and note-taking while I slowly drank my latte. It was So. Freakin. Good. Nice and smooth, a little nutty, no sour or bitter aftertaste. OMG. After I finished, I went to talk to the barista. I asked him about the machine, and I asked him how many grams of coffee they dosed for their shots. He said about 18 (and oh dear I can’t remember how many grams he said the resulting shot was). I couldn’t believe it! It was the same amount of coffee that Shift used but the taste was completely different. Of course some of this was because of the beans but I’ll wager a good deal of the difference was the machine. I am somewhat curious about those things but in the end – a fantastic cup of coffee is a fantastic cup of coffee. I’d wager to say that this was the best latte I had in the DFW area. I cursed all the way back to Dayl’s house. Goddam, that was effing fantastic!

The afternoon was spent writing and jumping on a business call, and the evening was spent with my wonderful Fort Worth hostess Dayl. She is a super generous person and makes everyone feel welcome in her home. Thank you Dayl!

The last full day of the trip: a success.

did i mention they also had a custom kees van der westen??
did i mention they also had a custom kees van der westen??
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2015 SCT, Day 10 – Easter in Forth Worth

Easter Sunday – April 5, 2015
I spent the day in Fort Worth with a bunch of Australians. I’m finally getting used to the accent and can, for the most part, understand almost everything everyone is saying. Almost.
After a delicious Easter Breakfast of Dayls’ now famous Eggs Benedict, some of the Aussies went off for some sightseeing while Dayl, Cheryl and I stayed behind. We did, however, make it out for a quick trip to World Market. I know, I know, shopping on Easter? Well, none of us are particularly religious. We did watch Oprah interview Pema Chodron though, so I think that counts…
I had to go to World Market. I’m on a limited budget on this trip, but I had gotten requests to purchase a few things:

  • 3 beachwood spatulas
  • Austrian-made Manner wafer cookies, lemon and hazelnut flavors
  • Ritter Sport dark chocolate covered Marzipan

I was in luck that they had all 3 requests! Plus so much more. Usually I find at least a few interesting coffee paraphenalia at World Market, and today was no exception. As I got closer to the area in the store where they keep that stuff, I could feel the anticipation building… and I turned the corner and saw… a display of Aeropresses! Oh yes, I could so totally rationalize buying one of those…
You really can rationalize anything, for or against, positive or negative, yes or no… it’s really pretty easy. And one thing I’ve learned over the years that if you need a little extra nudge in trying to rationalize something, just call Dayl. I showed her the display. An Aeropress landed in my basket.
Of course I had to try it out right after lunch (the purpose of which was simply to get some food in my stomach so I could have a coffee).
Now, since I’m not at home, I was lacking some necessary equipment for making proper pour over coffee – like a scale and a conical burr grinder. I love Dayl but all she has is a blade grinder, and those don’t cut the mustard, so to speak. You don’t get even-sized pieces of beans. They just keep “grinding” beans finer and finer, and you get some larger chunks and some very fine particles (known as “fines”). This produces an uneven extraction which can make the coffee bitter. You won’t get the proper flavors from the coffee beans. A burr grinder gives you a better chance of having evenly-ground coffee. Also I’d prefer to weigh my beans and water, so I can (re)produce consistently good coffee. So sorry Dayl, if I sound like an ungrateful house guest… I used the scoop to measure out the beans, and did the best I could with the blade grinder.
I made everyone a cup of Aeropress coffee with the Cuvee coffee beans I’d brought from Austin. Each cup tasted different, and since the brewing method was essentially the same (with some variation, as the Aeropress is COMPLICATED at first, sheesh!), I can only guess that the inconsistency came from grinding the beans. I think there’s real potential with the Aeropress, as people really rave about them, but I’ll have to wait until I get home to try it out with the Proper Equipment. Even so, it was fun!
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That evening, Dayl made sure Cheryl caught her plane back to Sydney (which she had missed the day before, hence her stopping by for a day). Nice to meet you, Cheryl!
The rest of us watched Chef – a “cute” movie that was fairly predictable but nicely done. It left me feeling really hungry.

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2015 SCT, Day 9 – Fort Worth / Denton / Australians / Improv

Saturday, April 4. I had some time to myself this morning. I guess I could have gone on more of an adventure, and gone into Dallas for coffee, but I opted for the known quantity and headed to Avoca with my laptop. No sign of Peter, but eventually he did roll in on his skateboard for an espresso but wasn’t actually working. I sat and people-watched and had a latte. I also bought some beans to take home with me – a bag of “Don Roberto,” Columbian single-origin. I can’t wait to try them!
Around mid-day I discovered I had some time to myself in the afternoon, as well. So I figured – what the heck! I texted my friend Kristina, who lives in Denton (about 30 minutes north of Fort Worth). She had time to meet… for a coffee! She suggested a place to try, so I drove up to Denton and we met at a place called Shift.
As soon as I walked in, I noticed that they served Avoca beans! This would be interesting. I would be able to see what another machine / barista would do with the same beans I’d had that morning. I also noticed that they were also having a tasting – I missed another one! Darnit…
I was informed by a very upbeat counter person that I had my choice of an 8-ounce, 12-ounce, or 16-ounce latte (at least I think those were the 3 choices – I didn’t write them down, sorry. Maybe it was 6, 8, and 12?). I chose the 8. Kristina hadn’t gotten there yet so I chatted with the counter guy and the barista. It turns out the barista was one of the owners, Angelo. He was a very personable guy, and very knowledgeable. I asked him how many grams of coffee he was dosing in their super-cute La Marzocco, and he told me about 18 grams of coffee went into every shot. By current “third wave” standards, that’s not very much! A traditional Italian double shot of espresso is 14 grams and these days you’ll find American shops going to 21-22g. So 18 is on the lighter side.

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Angelo at Shift, Denton TX

Angelo personifies all the good things a coffee shop should be. You could tell by talking to him that he was passionate about coffee, enthusiastic about sharing his passion, knowledgeable about beans and the act of making espresso, and concerned about finding good sources of beans for his shop. It was a stark difference to some of the people I ran into down in Austin, who seemed to be a little put out about having to serve me coffee.
In hindsight, had I known that Shift doses less coffee, I would have opted for a cappuccino or 6-ounce latte – if the espresso is a little “weaker,” it needs less milk. Overall it was quite good, but a little too mild for my taste.

 

 

I had a nice visit with Kristina, and got back on the highway to get back to Fort Worth. I had a dinner date with 4 Australians…
Dayl is Australian. And I think she knows half of the population of Australia. So when Aussies come to visit DFW, they stay with Dayl. They wanted to go eat ribs at Texas Roadhouse, and then come with Dayl and me to the Improv show we were planning to attend. So – ribs it was. Or rather, grilled shrimp. It was kind of a surreal dinner, sitting in a Texas steak house with a bunch of Australians. I couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying.
After dinner we headed to downtown Fort Worth and caught Four Day Weekend, a super cool Improv Troupe. It was really clever – a whole different level of performers than anything I’d seen before. Sadly, their troupe contained no women. I thought that was a real shame.

Downtown Fort Worth
Downtown Fort Worth

When we got home, I discovered I’d forgotten to close the door to the bedroom I was staying in, and while we were away, Dayl’s dog discovered I had coffee beans in my book bag. I don’t think she ate any, but she ripped the bag wide open and there were beans everywhere. I salvaged most of them but let’s just say my room smelled nice and coffee-y that night.
It was an action-packed day, to be sure. It was great!

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2015 SCT – Day 8 – More Fort Worth

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The Day Eight Coffee Adventure took me back to Avoca in Fort Worth. When I walked in, I did a combo sigh of relief / excited squee of joy because My Dreadlocked Man was there. Score. I walked up to the La Marzocco and said hi and that I’d come all the way from Tulsa again to see him. After a brief exchange of pleasantries I now know his name is Peter. I’m glad he was there! Now I know for sure I’m getting a super good latte. He’s really a pretty menacing figure – quite large, with a big beard and waist-length dreads. But he seems to be one of the nicest people. Cool.
I had an unsurprisingly delicious latte and Dayl had a soy cappuccino. Interestingly, they were both the same size. I was wondering why, and I decided since this trip is a Coffee Trip, I needed to know why. Even though I was risking looking like a noob. I asked the man-bun barista about it, and I was told that there were two sizes of cappuccino as well as two sizes of latte. I had ordered an 8-ounce latte, but didn’t specify the size of the cappuccino, so they gave me a larger one (another lesson learned on this trip – you’d better find out what sizes are available, don’t assume! And then always specify, otherwise they’ll just automatically upsell you the larger one with possible unhappy consequences).
So then I had to ask, at the point where a cappuccino and a latte are the same size, what is the difference? (Hey I just have to make sure, you know?) I was told the difference is in the milk. The milk in the cappuccino is more aerated so it’s a little more “foamy.” I knew this, but you know, have to ask. Lattes don’t have any “foam” – at least they’re not supposed to (would someone PLEASE tell Starbucks this, hello). Well that was interesting. Regardless – it was, as previously mentioned, delicious. I drank it pretty fast and proceeded to talk A LOT at Dayl, who is always so nice about listening to me. Isn’t that what good friends do though? They listen to you. Even when you’ve had your espresso drink too quickly.

Dayl and I spent the day doing some shopping, a little eating, and some sewing. She is helping me make a dress! Or rather, I am helping her make me a dress. I’m not a very experienced seamstress, so she is going through the steps and I’m trying to make some mental notes. I hope they stick.

buy buy buy!
buy buy buy!

 

sew sew sew!
sew sew sew!

Dayl and her husband went to a dinner for one of their friends, leaving me on my own for the evening. Which is good – the introvert side of me is in need of some down-time. I did something really unproductive while they were gone – I watched 2 hours of the Golden Girls. I don’t have cable anymore so I never see any re-runs (that aren’t stream-able on Netflix). I decided this was “research” for upcoming writing and acting projects. I know it’s probably ultra un-cool to like them, but that’s some funny stuff.
Before bed I reflected on my coffee trip so far. It’s been pretty crazy! And fun. I’ve had a lot of coffee. I’m here for a few more days, but I’m finding that trying to get to good coffee in DFW is pretty difficult. I am in Fort Worth, everything else, other than Avoca, is in Dallas. Some of these places are, like, 40+ minutes away. It’s such a dilemma. I’m on a coffee trip, it would be a real shame if I spent a few days here and didn’t do some exploring. Maybe I need a pro / con list (or in my case a prose and cons list, ha!)
Prose:
1. THIS IS AN ADVENTURE, MOST LIKELY NOT TO BE REPEATED FOR QUITE SOME TIME
2. It’s coffee!!
3. I’m here already – 40 minutes is a lot closer than 5 hours
4. It’s coffee!!
5. When I get home, I’ll regret not having done it, and I already have plenty of those kinds of events in my life
6. YOLO / FOMO
7. Coffeeeeeeee!
Cons:
1. I’m between work and I shouldn’t spend any more money on gas and coffee
2. ……

Well. There you have it.

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2015 SCT, Day Seven – ATX / DFW

This was my last day in Austin – the day I leave to head back north. I have one more espresso to drink this morning, before getting back on the road.
Today I went to Radio Coffee & Beer, on Manchaca. And there was an extra special bonus at this location – I got to meet my Instagram / FaceBook friend Julie! She suggested we try Radio, and I’m glad she did.
I got there before she did, so I went ahead and ordered. A Synesso espresso machine! Same as what they used at Coffee Slingers in OKC. They seem to work pretty well… (haha)… I decided to try a cappuccino today, instead of a latte. As I was waiting for the barista to hook me up, I looked around the interior. Radio is located in a house, and it does have a nice, homey feeling. There seemed to be 2 basic kinds of coffee places – the more austere, stark, industrial-type shop, and the more eclectic, homey type. This place seemed to combine both of those elements. Homey and comfy, but tidy and a little sparse. They had a lot of outdoor seating too, so I opted for that while I waited for Julie to arrive.
IMG_3510She came along right after I took pictures of my cappuccino, and sat down with her Americano. We know each other from IG, and so we know little pieces of each other’s lives – the short stories that photographs tell. It was so nice meeting her and filling out the rest of the story, and to put a real person in context with all the photos. I think if I lived in Austin, Julie would be someone I’d want to meet regularly for a cuppa joe. So, thanks for coming out, Julie, and I hope to see you again soon!
As for the cappuccino – tasty! It fell into the category of “slap your face” good – the espresso was strong and kind of “in yo face” if you know what I mean. Which isn’t a bad thing! Even though this was served with less milk than I’m used to, it was still great. Nice flavor. Good job, Radio Coffee! I can definitely recommend that place.
But the champ is still Houndstooth. After coffee, I went back to my hosts’ place, packed my car, walked their dogs, and hightailed it outta town, up I35. So long, ATX, you crazysexy parody of yourself, you. Till next time.

Next stop: Ikea.
Someone had requested a lamp from Ikea, and we needed some bowls. It’s a very unsexy shopping list I know, but really, there aren’t many sexy shopping lists. Or maybe there are but I’m just doing my shopping wrong.
Anyway, someone had tagged Ikea! I had to take pictures.
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I put one of the photos on Instagram with a few #hashtags and I think the graffiti artist found my post and liked it. Nice job @400mlbakery!!

Ikea took WAY too long – it always does. Then I got back on the highway and the next stop was Fort Worth. I’m in FW for a few  days, hanging with my bff. Who knows what crazy shenanigans we’ll get into. Like sewing. Or making scrambled eggs. We’re crazy like that. I’ll keep you posted.

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