7.0 Pearl Cup
Owners Carlene Saelg and Rita Davis’ coffeehouse anchors the southern end of increasingly trendy Henderson Avenue. It’s a popular spot for both the East Dallas crowd (think granola grunge in flip-flops) and students. Take your laptop if you don’t want to look out of place. The Cup is famous for its namesake latte, a rich, sweet treat. But we’re not judging coffee drinks, just coffee.
Aroma 7 // Taste 8 // Finish 7
Beans: Exclusive house blend by Dallas-based Eiland Coffee Roaster (Indonesia, Latin America, and Africa). Brew method: Automatic drip. Aroma: Burnt toast and stone fruit at first whiff. Taste: The dark, heavy nose and chewy mouthfeel were worrisome, indicating that this was going to be yet another heavy-handed, over-roasted cup of coffee. But—surprise—the dark brew was heady and aromatic, full of dark fruit and chocolate, like a devil’s food cake with cherries.
Finish: Like a big Cabernet, a bit hard on the palate, lingering far too long but still immensely drinkable.
Aroma 6 // Taste 7 // Finish 7
Beans: Espresso Delicato by Eiland Coffee Roaster. Aroma: Thin, milky crema with a tight nose. Taste: Medium-bodied mouthfeel with buttered toast flavor up front and a hint of cocoa on the back end.
Finish: Anise and soft tobacco.
Owner and master roaster David Clarke’s coffeehouse is located in a nondescript suburban shopping center. But of all the shops visited, this one best evokes that classic warm-and-cozy coffeehouse feel, like Central Perk on Friends. Clarke roasts four blends and 15 single-origin coffees.
Aroma 6.5 // Taste 7 // Finish 6.5
Beans: Buon Giorno’s Casa Nostra house blend. Brew method: Automatic drip. Aroma: Slightly pungent nose with a mild sweetness. Taste: The first sip was reminiscent of a breakfast tea blend: soothing and well-rounded. No surprise. Buon Giorno bills its Casa Nostra as a coffee for a “milder morning experience.” Smoked tea and roasted root vegetable flavors—like sweet potatoes and beets—tasted comforting if not complex and interesting. Finish: Mild butter notes.
Aroma 5 // Taste 6.5 // Finish 8
Beans: Buon Giorno’s Italian espresso blend. Aroma: Dark, rustlike crema with no discernible nose. Taste: A chalky mouthfeel gave way to sweet and buttery flavors on the tip of the tongue and a malty, almost hoppy power on the end. Not unpleasant but no finesse. Finish: Toasted pumpernickel (sweet and earthy with a ryelike bite).
Texas regionalism rules at this rustic Lake Highlands outpost, with its cut limestone façade, exposed wood rafters, and tin accents. All coffees are roasted on the premises. It was recently named best coffeehouse in Dallas by Krups USA.
Aroma 6 // Taste 6.5 // Finish 6
Beans: White Rock house blend (Guatemala, Columbia, Brazil). Brew method: Automatic drip. Aroma: Nutty and sour. Taste: Bright and acidic at first sip, the thin mouthfeel was followed by lemony notes and a fatty nut flavor, like a macadamia nut. Tight on the palate. Finish: A slight clove cigarette aftertaste, sweet and herbal.
Aroma 6.5 // Taste 6 // Finish 6.5
Beans: White Rock house espresso (Brazil). Aroma: A bright tan crema with a toasty, leathery nose. Taste: The medium body was overwhelmed by some serious acidity and sweetness, much like tomato juice. Finish: Subtle caramel undertones and a maltlike aftertaste.
Owner Steve Thatcher has more than 19 years of experience in the coffee business. He opened his Park Cities shop in 2005, and it was one of the first in the city to roast beans on-site. Industrial and modern in feel, it’s equally popular with pin-striped businessmen needing an iced Americano and giggly, pony-tailed tweens jonesing for their frozen blended coffee drink.
Aroma 6 // Taste 6 // Finish 7
Beans: Drip’s house-roasted Kenya. Brew method: Automatic drip. Aroma: Bright, slightly sour nose, much like fresh asparagus. Taste: Medium-bodied mouthfeel, with big, dark cherry notes. The winelike start gave way to a peaty, almost fungal finish. What bright fruit and acidity was present on first sip vanished quickly. Much like a big, chewy Cabernet, this coffee was not an easy sipper. It needed food to smooth it out. Finish: Charred meat and earth.
Aroma 6 // Taste 4 // Finish 5
Beans: Drip’s “super secret” espresso blend. Aroma: A milky crema with a slightly sweet nose. Taste: The mouthfeel was thin and harsh on the palate, with dark chocolate and orange tones. Finish: Almost medicinal.