When you think coffee town, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Seattle. Well, you might be surprised to learn that Dallas (and Houston, Texas) are providing stiff competition these days.
It’s getting easier and easier to find good coffee in Dallas, and not just good coffee but good coffee shop concepts and skilled coffee roasters.
For your weekend coffee, branch out a bit, and try one of these new coffee shops so you too can enjoy the best coffee in Dallas.
Without further ado, let’s get caffeinated.
La La Land
Good coffee, better concept.
La La Land is located in the heart of Lower Greenville, off the main street, but hard to miss with its signature yellow paint. Sit on the porch and watch the weekend brunch crowd go by with a piping hot cup of coffee.
Sweetening your cup? You’ll be served by a staff of foster youth that have aged out of the system. You see at La La, the coffee is a consequence of their mission to mentor and support foster children move into adult life. Other businesses wouldn’t hire these folks who are usually inexperienced, so they started La La Land to that.
Good coffee is just a nice side effect.
A Barista’s Take on La La Land
The team at La La Land is what I would call “in training” which makes sense from the perspective of their mission. That said, they’ve done a good job setting up the team for success. The equipment they use isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it also serves a very good operational purpose. Pour Over, one of the hardest things to get right in a coffee shop because the timing can so easily be thrown off (especially when the shop is slammed… which La La Land often is), is handled here by their use of the Poursteady. All the staff has to do is grind the coffee and the machine will do the rest for you.
The same can be said for their espresso machine and their grinders. The grinders they use have a display that tells the barista the time it took to grind, and they appear to be weighted as well. Further, the espresso machines use a lever for steaming as opposed to a dial, meaning they are getting the same amount of team in the pitcher every time.
In short, good coffee is all about consistency and that’s the first thing to go on a busy day. La La Land has done a good job surrounding their staff with equipment that handles part of the work for them, and when it can’t giving them insights.
White Rock Coffee
Lake Highlands / Lakewood / Preston Center
White Rock is a coffee shop and roaster in one, which often means one suffers, but in this case (with the exception of their Express location) they excel at both.
When it comes to what’s in your cup, if you’re getting espresso drinks, you’re going to like what you get. With coffee, we’d say it’s a bit of a different story, it matters when you’re ordering. In the morning with the batch brewer up and running and fresh, you’re probably good. Later in the day when they switch to pour over, we think they could be more consistent.
Definitely try the Adam Bomb, it’s a lot like a Shaken Espresso.
Aesthetically, they could be doing more, but when most coffee shops are “all bark; no bite”, or put better, “all design; bad coffee”, we’ll take the trade off they appear to be making (more on operations in the “Barista’s Take” below). All that to say, their design is very much inspired by Austin, corrugated steel, polished concrete floors, decomposed granite. Their Preston Center location is doing its best to change that.
On the subject of roasting, they have some excellent roasts, with an average rating of 4.1 on Good Fika. Their best roast according to the community is Costa Rica Tarrazu at a 4.6. It’s not often available to be brewed by the staff, or ever for purchase to take home, but if either is available, opt for it, it’s a “must-have”.
A Barista’s Take on White Rock Coffee
From an operational perspective, they’re doing well in some areas, could be better in others. They use Unic espresso machines that help ensure they’re pulling consistent shots every time, through it’s separate head groups that can be independently controlled allowing them to serve multiple roasts on the espresso machine, and the use of levers to control steam for more consistent frothing from their team.
We feel drip coffee could be better. We’ve run into situations where we show up after the morning rush and the coffee in the brewer has already oxidized. Opting for the pour over instead on later visits, we’d time the baristas, who would sometimes get distracted throwing off their timing.
Window Seat is here for concept first and foremost.
The entire cafe is designed as if you’re in an airplane (a roomy one), with seating being each table as a “window seat” looking down on locations that the owners have traveled to (via a photo in an airplane window-shaped frame).
It’s an inspiring space to get a cup of coffee, and them opening during Covid turned out to be a boon, as Window Seat was one of the only ways we could “travel” for a while here in Dallas.
They’ve also chosen some really good food vendors. Tacodeli tacos we’ve found are the best to-go tacos you can get in Dallas when you’re not at a taco shop specifically. Their biscuits aren’t half bad either.
A Barista’s Take on Window Seat
Aesthetics plus operations!? Yes, Window Seat might just be perfect. Every aspect of this shop is dialed in to give you a great brew. Espresso machines, Unic, we’ve discussed how good these are above. Pour Over, they have a single brewer that we think is better than the Poursteady. It’s from a small company in Ireland, and this brewer not only controls the brew timing, but also the temperature, recirculating it throughout the brew process and making for something fun to look at. Again consistency, this machine eliminates so many variables that can lead to a bad brew. Their grinders, in our opinion are best for helping barista’s ensure they are dialed in all day, by showing the time each grind takes. Finally, they use the Puq which leads to a perfect tamp on the coffee grounds in the portafilter every time.
In short, no matter how you order, you’re going to have good coffee here.
Located where Mudsmith used to be on Lower Greenville, Carte Blanche is the newest coffee shop to the Dallas scene, and the owner’s background is setting them up for success in two acts.
Act One: The Coffee Shop. From 7Am to Noon, Carte Blanche is a coffee shop serving Eiland Coffee, an excellent, craft roaster out of Richardson, and rows and rows of baked goods. They brew the coffee extremely well here, so even if Eiland can be hit or miss for those of you not used to the spectrum of specialty coffee available, you’ll have a cup the way it’s supposed to taste.
On baked goods, Amy La Rue is the baker, her and her husband Casey started Carte Blanche after working at Michelin-star rated restaurants all over the world, and while we haven’t made it through the entire menu, what we have had was fire.
Both of these are good, because unlike other coffee shops on this list, you won’t find wifi here. Which, if they did, we’d tell you to look up from your screen anyway, because this place is such a calming and relaxing environment to recenter yourself over a sip, or two, of caffeine.
Act Two: Fine Dining. They switch over to a restaurant for the evening, but that’s out of scope of this article.
A Barista’s Take on Carte Blanche
Operationally, I’d say there is work to do, but this is true with any place that is just opening, doubly so with a place that pulls double duty, switching concepts in the middle of the day.
What I will say is, they brew excellent coffee in spite of this. That and the check out process is a bit confusing (they have two registers, and two people working them, but neither seems to actually be working them?)
Not that I was complaining, there is so much to look at in this space, but if I’m to become a regular, I’d want to see them get a few things dialed in.
We’re still reviewing the best coffee shops here in and around Dallas. In the future, expect the following shops to get a review, but also for us to branch out to the broader Dallas Fort Worth area. If you’ve got a coffee shop you think we missed, or a you want us to write a list like this for your city (e.g. Best Coffee shops in Fort Worth), send us a tweet @GoodFika.
If you do happen to go to one of these awesome Dallas coffee spots, definitely tweet us and let us know what you thought.
Speaking of let us know what you thought, we’ve got an app for that: Good Fika, it’s like Untappd for Coffee. Discover and share the coffee and the coffee shops you like with our community, it’s free to download on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Of course, you’re already behind on badges, so sign up today.
Oak Cliff Coffee
Bishop Arts District
Uptown / Oak Lawn
East Dallas / Little Forest Hills
Knox / Henderson