Posted Mon Aug 19, 2013, 5:24am Subject: Re: Best roasters in Dallas/North Texas
I'm not a huge fan of either Coffee Eiland or Ascension. I think Clay goes too dark, so it may just be a matter of opinion. Cultivar is my probably my favorite local roaster and shop, but Oak Cliff produces some really good roasts quite often. Their most recent Yirgi is amazing.
Oak Lawn Coffee is pretty close to Ascension, and their baristas are on point; it may be worth checking out if you haven't already. They also sell Oak Cliff and Madcap, so that's a plus.
Posted Mon Sep 23, 2013, 3:06pm Subject: Re: Best roasters in Dallas/North Texas, the Java Sojourner chimes in
Let me join in on the discussion. Eiland has been around for some time and has not seemed to generate any kind of following. I have never run into his roasts when I lived there, but I strongly disagree with TATWD: Ascension is leading an espresso breakthrough in Dallas, Texas. This is a town with great restaurants and a population with the palate deserving of great espresso. Now they have it. This is a “four-star review” for Davis Street and a “five-star” review of Ascension, but, as most readers know, with the variabilities of plantation supply, weather, bean availability, and the micro-variables of performance at the point of infusing the espresso, plus the differences of coffeegeek preferences, the quality of delivery of one coffeehouse may overlap another quite a bit, so that a ‘star rating’ or any rating becomes quite superfluous. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the tradition of the ascending order of most ‘top ten’ lists, the Java Soujourner is going to start out his ‘top two coffeehouses in Dallas’ list with Davis Street.
Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters was the ‘go to’ local roaster when I lived in Dallas. Some of their roasts were excellent, most were very good, but all of them were more dependable than my ability to infuse. In my absence from Dallas, OCCR as opened Davis Street Espresso (819 W. Davis Street), but known to the locals still as ‘Oak Cliff’. The café and the roastery are in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, take the N. Zang exit west from highway 35 and look for Davis Street; it is a four minute drive. They pulled a shot of their Hidden City espresso blend (composition changes) for me. The crema was luxurious, the nose was a high note of uncharacterized fruitiness. The first sip tasted of nut, toast and mineral (pleasant saltiness). The sips started tasting lemony as the cup cooled, never losing the toasty flavor. It was a good cup. They use a three group lever machine from Bosco in Naples, and they know how to use it. Their twin Mahlkonig EKK 43 grinder is also a thing of beauty, in its own way. When one walks into the café, one does not notice the lever machine. Not only is its back to the door, but it is sited back-to-back with an automated siphon machine called ‘The Steampunk’ by Alpha Dominche. Four glass cylinders greet the front door; they display boiling or moving water, or coffee. Oak Cliff should have placed this behind a counter surrounded by stools because it is as mesmerizing as watching an aquarium. Also pay a visit to their antique, display only, wall mounted Gaggia espresso machine. I bought some of their Ethiopia Nekisse, which makes a complex and flavorful espresso; the best infusion I have made in the past year and I am still dialing it in.
I was advised by a chocolatier (Thank you, Tony) to visit Ascension Coffee (1621 Oak Lawn Avenue). Take the Oak Lawn exit from I-35 and make sure you turn west. The parking lot is already famous for being too small, so park around the corner, if you must. On their web site, they say that they are fanatics about coffee and judging by their enthusiastic response to my interest in their machine and their roasts and their confession about spending hundreds of dollars on a small amount of Panama Geisha, I would have to agree. Concerning the machine, they have a Synesso Hydra three group machine with each group having an independent pump that can be pressure profiled differently from the other groups. In this way one group can operate without affecting the pressure of the other groups. Sort of like a high-tech, complex approach to the three lever groups that I had just seen at Oak Cliff. The roast that they ground and infused for me, however, did the machine, and them, proud. It had a fruity nose and nice, thick crema. The first taste was nutty and nondescript fruity the second taste was of toast and a little cinnamon. The third taste as it cooled brought out an unusual savory umami taste. I cannot describe how nicely the tastes opened up, held together, progressed and lasted. This was the best shot that I have had all year. It was near the last of their Ethiopia Harrar single origin espresso. I have no doubt that Caleb, the barista with the impeccable handlebar moustache, who pulled my shot, will continue to pull good shots out of whatever gets roasted next.
Anyone who loves coffee and visits Dallas should visit these two shops.
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