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Into Shelley’s Belly: Davis Street Espresso in Oak Cliff

The Van Buren with a shot of Topo Chico (photography by Matthew Shelley)
The Van Buren with a shot of Topo Chico (photography by Matthew Shelley)

The Bishop Arts District has adorned itself with yet another ornament of hip sophistication with the addition of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters’ Davis Street Espresso. Wow, that’s a lot of titles in a single sentence. At first, I was confused by what to call it—and I’m assuming most people will refer to it as Oak Cliff Coffee—but that just ain’t right. Fine. I’m confusing myself now. It’s called Davis Street Espresso, so deal with it.

Just one week into its skinny jeans, the new coffee shop has set itself apart from all the others with a layered, coffee laboratory persona and a very small menu. The multi-toned, wood panel walls echo an understated steam punk chic, and the subtle blue accents cool the interior and remind you of the oceanic ecstasy from being inside your momma’s womb. You’ll feel light on your feet, strong in your pelvic center, and saddled with smooth churnings of funky all up in your brain.

Steampunk brewed black coffee (left); baristas working it (right)
Steampunk brewed black coffee (left); baristas working it (right)
Croissant and churro
Croissant and churro

The baristas are still perfecting their methods, but that doesn’t mean they’ll shorthand what they prepare. The banter between them alone was enough to bring me back, and they toiled to no end with discussions about how to better serve their beans. The Van Buren, a mix of espresso and 2-oz. of steamed milk, is bold and rich. It gives the famous Oaf Cliff roasted beans a careful presence and just the right amount of punch. As I said, the menu is small, offering only six coffee drinks—most of which have espresso in them.

They also have pastries from Rush Patisserie and donuts and churros from Vera’s Bakery. I must mention that the churro is filled with Bavarian crème. Hold onto your pants while you bite into it, as it may just leave you whispering to all your subconscious love gods at once without realizing you’re still in public. It goes without saying how delicious the Rush Patisserie croissants are, but I’m going to say it anyhow. They’re fluffy, dense, and all the right flaky thickness. They serve their drip coffee from a steam punk mechanism. It’s literally called the Steampunk. They calibrate an electronic flux capacitor to brew the beans (much like a siphon brewing system to an exacting level), and you’re left with an entrancing, multi-dimensional cup of full-bodied black coffee. The towering, yet perfectly gentle barista relayed to me all the subtleties of flavor profiles that I would be tasting, and while my palate lacks his experience, it was an exciting venture beyond just drinking a simple cup of coffee. I decided to take a cold brew to go, and it was very smooth with a perfumed, almost hop taste that was unexpected and delicious. Also, it was a dollar cheaper than my other favorite cold brew.

Adjacent courtyard chill zone
Adjacent courtyard chill zone

Davis Street Espresso fits itself into the demanding neighborhood quite well. The interior is spacious, fun, and invigorating, while the staff is warm, exacting and friendly. There is a cozy courtyard area and a small patio facing Davis Street, and it was hard for me to leave. I think I’ll spend the rest of the day pulling myself out of a spiraling withdrawal, and everyone in my office will suffer from my loss. Stay light, my friends. I hope to see you on the flipside of regular.

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