Wrap-Up of Barista Nation Texas

November 12, 2012 · Filed Under barista jam, DFW · Comment 

Barista Nation Texas was hosted by Oak Cliff Coffee in Dallas on Monday, November 5th.  Anastasia Chovan, the organizer and creator of the Barista Nation project, said Monday that Barista Nation Texas in Dallas was the largest turnout of any Barista Nation in the US, with second being San Francisco.

I have my own theories as to why this occurred, but more on that later.  A variety of presentations were available to a group of coffee lovers from across the region.  Some attendees came from as far as New Mexico, with folks from Austin, Houston, Lubbock, Amarillo, and other parts of this state, as well as neighboring ones.

There were a few presentations that I found particularly interesting.

Coffee Collaboration: Farmer and Roaster

Featuring Ernesto Menendez of Finca Los Brumas in El Salvador, 1st Place in 2012 El Salvador COE.  A few things during his presentation (in collaboration with Shannon Neffendorf) really resonated with me, and some thoughts I’ve had about coffee retail lately. He gave some information about what it takes to consistently produce stellar crops of coffee year after year.

Thoughts like, you have to actually be present on the farm. You have to see how crops are doing, how the climate is effecting them, how the soil is, how the moisture is, and on and on.  There’s no possible way that you can effectively manage and understand what’s going on without having your own boots on the ground to witness it first hand. (Retail owners, are you listening?)

Ernesto Menendez of Finca Las Brumas, #1 in the 2012 El Salvador COE, and Shannon Neffendorf talk about Farmer/Roaster collaboration.

He also mentioned which varietals he grows, which I also found of particular interest, especially when two varietals in specific were mentioned that you don’t think of when you think of coffee from El Salvador: geisha, and SL-28.  I had the opportunity to talk with him later, and it’s interesting to note how “origin flavor” still seems to have such a firm grip on cupping juries, even to this day. Geisha isn’t going to be available for at least another 5 years or so (for those who are curious), and SL-28 (a Kenya cultivar) he describes as “interesting”.  Apparently, when on a cupping table along with a bunch of Bourbons and Pacamaras, it is often described as defective.  (reference back to my note about “origin taste”)

Cafe Marketing: Create an Impact Without Breaking the Bank

Tom Vincent of Texas Coffee School on Retail Marketing

This is a presentation that was given by Tom Vincent of Texas Coffee School about marketing your specialty coffee brick ‘n mortar retail business for little to no money. If you were not already familiar with social media marketing, it was a moderately enlightening and informative string of strategies to increase traffic and sales.  It was mostly just common sense applied where it often isn’t.  Use FourSquare, use a promotional post only every 7nth status update, and recommend only the most profitable menu items (instead of assumed popular drinks) to customers who ask, were just a few of the techniques mentioned.

I didn’t have time to check out both of these first two presentations in their entirety, because they were happening at the same time.  Please take note of this, as it is quite possible that there were significantly more useful topics discussed while I was watching Ernesto and Shannon’s presentation.

Creating A USBC Routine: from the journey, to the competition, to the cafe

This is a presentation given by Lorenzo Perkins that I was only able to catch the tail end of, as I was attending the other presentation given at the same time (mentioned next). I was able to catch the end of it, when Lorenzo was giving a quick run-down of notable champions, including recent previous winners of the USBC. He mentioned what each one went on to do after winning, when he noticed (or at least mentioned) that many Barista champions use their new-found winningness to do things unrelated to being a barista.  This, in my opinion, speaks volumes.  Not about barista champions, but about the United States and our cultural view of the service industry.

He also mentioned that the high point in barista competition history was, in his opinion, Stephen Morrissey’s WBC performance in 2008.  Search Google

Creating a Roast Profile: Exploring Acid Development in the Roasting Process

Brent Hall of S&D Coffee (formerly of Counture Culture Coffee) gave a presentation of what acids are present in coffee, how they effect taste, and in what percentage each one is present.  I found this one to be the most enjoyably geeky of all of the presentations I witnessed. (note: I didn’t see all of them)

There was a cupping line set up, with a sample of coffee pulled from each minute of roasting to the 23rd minute, if I recall correctly. In my own words in the moment of tasting, “I tasted the rainbow, and they should have stopped at 21.”  It was interesting to taste the progression and development of perceived acidity through the roast process.  Granted, this was a pretty slow roast with a rather long drying phase.

Lunch -
Keynote: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
Actually given by Jason Burton of The Lab.  It struck me as off-the-cuff and unplanned. The itinerary listed Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen of sprudge.com to be the presenters, so that very well may have been the case.  Nothing worth noting.  A lot of thank you’s were given, and this is when surprise was expressed at the turnout.

Collaborate Barista Business Tools and Your Cafe by Ryan of Oak Lawn Coffee and Shannon Neffendorf.  I missed this presentation entirely.  I wish I hadn’t.

Collaborate, Fair Trade coffee, and liquor by Richard Sandlin of Fair Trade USA.  I missed this one as well, though from what I gathered, it never fully happened. Nothing to report.

Create: How to troubleshoot off tasting results in any brewing method by Tom Vincent. The only quirks demonstrated were based on brew ratio, and the only topic discussed was brew ratio.  I think more than a few people were a little disappointed.  I know that I was personally hoping for more. 55-60 grams per Liter is all you need to know.

Recipes Collaboration: How to Support Your Cafe by Sauro Dall Anglio and Garold LaRue of Avoca Coffee was about drink definitions, how they vary, and a few of Garold’s drink mixture creations that he uses to make his cafe stand out to his customers.  It was mildly entertaining, difficult to hear, and less about coffee, and more about using it as an ingredient rather than as a beverage in itself.  I had mixed feelings about this one, but then, anyone who knows me knows that I am all about the coffee.

Panel Discussion –
Barista & Customer: How can they collaborate to create a better experience?
This was a panel discussion, and I missed most of it. (catching up with old friends kept me from more than one) The last discussion that I caught was about whether or not a mediocre product can be compensated for with outstanding service.  The answers varied, as did their reasons.  This concept might make for a good article for this site later. (note to self)

Lastly, there was a latte art throwdown with a $5 buy-in.  Unfortunately, it started getting a bit late for me to keep my family waiting, so I said my good byes and left.


we have such a huge amount of work to do.  I’ve seen it before in Lubbock, and it’s kind of interesting seeing it somewhere else.  In short, the Revolution I mention in the Texas Coffee People Mission Statement continues HERE.

AJ Coffee Company: Dallas, TX

October 29, 2012 · Filed Under Community, DFW, Roasters, TX-Coffee · Comment 

Since my first post here back in January of 2007, I’ve written a lot of posts, tasted a lot of coffee (some good, some not so good), written about shops and roasters across this great state. All it took to get a mention was to send us an email letting us know about you.

I haven’t talked much about my own ventures in coffee, as I never really intended to make this blog about myself, but about the Texas coffee culture as a whole. However, my own ventures are not excluded from the Texas coffee scene, and I figured it’s high time I introduced AJ Coffee Company (http://www.ajcoffeeco.com).

You may have noticed the little AJ Coffee Co ad to the right in our sidebar above the EspressoTrainer.com ad (which is also mine, but that’s for another post).

AJ Coffee Company has long been a dream that became the early stages of a reality in the summer of 2010. The dream was (and still is) bigger than just a tiny wholesale and online retail roasting company, but this is what we were able to do at the time.

It started in Lubbock, TX, where I lived when this website (and my career in specialty coffee) got started, and I moved back to Dallas in the Spring of this year with my family, bringing AJ Coffee Company with us.

My commitment to relationships, coffee ethics, sustainability, and quality is as strong as ever. These are the backbone of this company.

Our roasterie is located in the Lake Highlands neighborhood in the office park at the NW corner of Plano Rd. and Miller. Visits by appointment only. (one day, I hope it can be more)

AJ Coffee Company
10725 Plano Rd., Ste. 400
Dallas, TX 75238

Barista Nation Event: November 5th, 2012 – Dallas, TX

October 22, 2012 · Filed Under barista jam, DFW, TX-Coffee · 1 Comment 

Click image for full size. From the BaristaNation.com blog.

The first actual Barista Jam I’ve seen in Texas in a Loooong time.  (Latte Art Throwdowns seem to have taken over)

Hosted by Oak Cliff Coffee in Oak Cliff (neighborhood in Dallas).  Entry is only $10, and every penny goes to Care.org (in fact, that’s where you go to pay for it).

Mingle with your coffee-loving brethren.  Learn new knowable knowledge.  Have fun learning about coffee in a social setting.  Do it all for a good cause. (or because you’re a selfish, attention-hungry coffee slinger who wants somewhere to show how awesome you are.  This is perfect for you).

Four of the Top 25 Caffeinated Cities are in Texas

September 21, 2011 · Filed Under Just for fun, Texas Coffee People, TX-Coffee · Comment 

(via - Seattle Pi)

click to enlarge

Those cities are (in decending order):

  • Dallas
  • Austin
  • El Paso
  • Plano

Maybe Plano should be included in the Dallas number to bump a TX city up a few places from 12.

Keep on caffeinating, Texas.

The Pearl Cup's Winter Coat Drive – Dallas

December 13, 2009 · Filed Under Community, DFW, Holidays, Seasonal, Texas Coffee People, Texas Retailers · 2 Comments 

I saw this on Facebook, and decided it was worth sharing.

“The Pearl Cup is participating in a winter coat drive to gather clean, gently worn coats for ages kids through adults. Our neighborhood DISD schools have voiced a need and we would like to help.  So, bring by one that you can live without, inform the staff at TPC and get $1.00 off of any drink we prepare.  Thank you in advance for sharing this season.”

Donate a coat and get $1.00 off any drink in the house.

The Pearl Cup

Anonymous Review of The Pearl Cup: Dallas

October 1, 2009 · Filed Under DFW, Publicity, Retailers · Comment 

I saw this on the net and got permission to stick it up here.

Let me preface this by saying I hate coffee. Pearl Cup rocks.

They must be doing something right to get a simple, yet glorious, review like that.  Way to go!

It probably doesn’t hurt that D Magazine voted their “Pearl Latte” the best latte of 2009.

If you’re in Dallas and in need of a decent cup of coffee, you might consider dropping in.

The Pearl Cup
1900 N. Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

Ultimate Barista Challenge at the Southwest Foodservice Expo

June 24, 2009 · Filed Under Coffee Industry, DFW, Events, Publicity, TX-Coffee · Comment 

The Southwest Foodservice Expo
June 28-30, 2009
Dallas, Texas


The Ultimate Barista Challenge is an action packed competition where baristi, someone who professionally prepares coffee, compete in a dueling stage of identical espresso stations to shake, not stir, their espresso cocktails, to prepare beautiful caffe latte art, blend espresso frappe and brew the best they have. Each barista has a tight 10 minutes to prepare drinks in each category and serve to a discerning professional tasting judges¹ panel comprised of coffee specialists, trainers, food writers, chefs or sommeliers before a live audience to win the right to challenge the reigning champion and in turn become “The Ultimate Barista.” (as taken from www.ultimatebaristachallenge.com)

I love the idea of having a barista show-down in the middle of a food service industry convention.  I won’t be able to make it this year, but I wish all the best to those who will.  Some of you had better take pictures, for crying out loud!

If you’re going to be in the area, it’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Oak Cliff Coffee Featured by Dallas Morning News

Click Here

Oak Cliff couple take coffee beans to customers’ doors

…Here comes coffee time and the man with the goods.

There goes Shannon Neffendorf, cruising the sleepy streets of North Oak Cliff, hanging bags of freshly roasted coffee beans at customers’ front door.

“I love delivery day and the way it makes the car smell,” says the co-owner of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, out and about on his pre-dawn rounds.

He and his wife, Jenni, hope this milkman-style service helps their budding business stand out as more than another joe in the world of java…

…The couple launched the venture not long after their marriage. And in just over a year, they have seen it steadily grow to include about 75 residential customers, 10 businesses and offices, and five commercial accounts that sell their beans, serve their coffee or both…

And here’s my favorite part…

…They aren’t alone in North Texas. Texas Coffee People ( tx-coffee.com) lists 12 coffee roasters in the Dallas area on its Web site, which seeks to “promote a community of serious coffee people in a state which most would consider to be a coffee wasteland…

Kudos to Shannon and Jenni (and the Oak Cliff Brand) for the article!  (and thanks for the plug, whoever was responsible)

And let’s not forget to give you Oak Cliff’s website link: http://www.oakcliffcoffee.com/

Crooked Tree Coffee House: Visited

April 1, 2009 · Filed Under DFW, Publicity, Retailers, Texas Retailers · Comment 

I was in Dallas recently, and drove by The Pearl Cup, which was closing (we were in the area at a quarter to 9pm.. seems quite early to be closing for that area, but it’s what time they close). So, On a bit further to Crooked Tree Coffee House.

There were bags of Oak Cliff Coffee hanging around on the shelf, along with some coffee from their other supplier,Buy Well.


Apologies for the “pocket pc”-quality picture. There is a latte in each cup. The milk was frothed well. I have had better, and I have had worse, but overall, the foam was good.

They are pulling shots on a Rancillio 2 group with a Super Jolly-sized solitary grinder.

The espresso was dosed (less than full), “jiggled”, and tamped, with no post-dose distribution. While the latte wasn’t bitter in the overextracted sense, it was neither sour, and it was difficult to place the coffee. In fact, it didn’t taste very much like coffee at all. It tasted like a tall cup of frothed milk. Not offensive, but also not what I was hoping for in a caffe latte. I did notice a tinge of “earthiness”, which implies a Sumatran coffee to me, although I don’t want to say anything definitive without knowing for sure.

The art on the walls was from a Dallas-born photographer living in Brooklyn, NY.  The photography was a great accent, and was quite good. The walls and decor are easy on the eyes, but the seating arrangement left much to be desired. For how much space there is available, it seemed that not many people could fit comfortably in the space due to this arrangement. Furthermore, the chairs that were available were downright uncomfortable. I felt much too cozy to our neighbors at the other table, while at the same time trying to figure out a way to sit comfortably in the chairs that we had found vacant. (the only two at the time)

I wanted to try the brewed coffee to give Oak Cliff Coffee a whirl, but I didn’t want to hang around due to the lack of comfort, and it was later at night (so it was one or the other, and I thought it to be more fair to try the skills of the shop being visited).

Worth dropping by if you’re near the area, but don’t plan on spending too much time there, and you may ask for an extra shot in your latte (or just stick with a cup of brewed coffee instead).

The Pearl Cup Grand Opening: Dallas

March 14, 2009 · Filed Under DFW, Events, Retailers, Texas Retailers · Comment 

Sorry, I’m a bit late on this one, folks.

Here’s the latest:

Our grand opening starts this evening(Friday) with DJs Schwa and Trademarx from 6-9. And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow(Saturday) also for the big event. We will have live music starting at noon and ending around 9pm. I hope to see you all this weekend! (from Mattie Mattie)
hey hey hey! our grand opening parties will be on Friday the 13th with lounge music by dj schwa, and Saturday we will be having loads of musicians playing acoustic sets. we hope to see you all here come next weekend. tell all your buddies it will be a good time, because it will. (from Austin Burge)
Both messages received via Facebook.

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