Saturday, March 9, 2013
Mudsmith continues gourmet coffee conversation in Dallas
You have to try a Revolver Stout with a shot of espresso.
DALLAS The tattoo ink never runs dry at Mudsmith, and neither do the espresso machines. Owner Brooke Humphries is a colorful person whose rock-and-roll attitude precedes her, manifesting itself in the décor of Mudsmith, Barcadia and other concepts she has opened in the past two decades in Dallas. Her new coffee shop on Greenville Avenue is a little bit indie and a little bit rock-and-roll.
The Think Coffee-inspired concept integrates coffee, alcohol and food — a combination that comes naturally for Humphries, who owns five bars in Dallas. A Revolver stout with a double shot of espresso poured on top is the embodiment of the shop’s edgy attitude. Icy eyes from the menagerie of taxidermies stare out onto the dining area offering disapproving glances to those who take themselves too seriously.
In the same vein as other independently-owned coffee shops in Dallas, Mudsmith aims to take coffee seriously. At Mudsmith, “everything is weighed, everything is timed, everything has a specific scientific equation” according to barista Bri Morris. “We dose every shot depending on how many days off roast it is. Each day off roast it is there’s a different sweet spot, a different weight that we pull them at.”
This gourmand’s approach to coffee was in part imbued by Mudsmith’s coffee roaster, Four Barrel Coffee.
Jeremy Tooker is founder, owner, coffee procurer and director of operations of Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco. Coffee has been his profession since the age of 17 and got Four Barrel rolling in August of 2008. The company uses a cast-iron Probat UG-15 that was made in 1957. The 15 kilogram capacity machine is outfitted with newer gadgets meant to modulate temperature and the number of revolutions that coffee beans take as they are tossed within the roaster’s drum. Tooker says letting the coffee rotate just 1/10 Hz more or less—or six revolutions per minute—created a difference in the taste of coffee.
Cast-iron Probat roasters are a rarity, but Dallas is lucky enough to have coffee brewed on a similar roaster (a Probat UG-22) at Ascension Coffee in Oak Lawn. Despite both being roasted in cast-iron roasters, the coffees are markedly different and the dichotomy is worth tasting. The two coffee shops also both boast dedicated slow bars where baristas pour water over coffee in mesmerizing circles for four minutes. (It’s more interesting than it sounds.)
Besides sourcing their coffees from different areas, each roaster has its own philosophy in bringing out the best of its beans. Tooker’s tastes dictates that he roasts his coffee on the lighter side. He likens working with lighter coffees to riding a chain-driven motorcycle — it requires more maintenance than a shaft-driven motorcycle, but is “more fun to ride.”
“You have to start with quality ingredients or your faults will come through,” Tooker says.
Despite that danger, there’s also the chance of more subtle flavors making their way into the finished cup of coffee. For many roasters excited about the ever-improving quality of green coffee beans, this is the new frontier. Even Starbucks has caught on with their new blonde roast, but smaller roasters try going a step further by offering oversight on the next step in coffee sales.
“It’s more than just roasting style. It’s more of a commitment.” A commitment that goes back much further than the roasting process. The taste and even the amount of crema (the foamy part of an espresso shot made using carbon dioxide both in the green bean and made during roasting) are inherent in the green coffee bean, so it is important to source from serious growers. Yet this is only a starting point in quality control for the company. Four Barrel took it upon themselves to send two representatives to train the staff at Mudsmith over a ten-day period, and they will be back periodically to check on the coffee program.
Four Barrel’s coffee ships to Mudsmith on its roast date and is typically brewed within 3-9 days. Its coffee ships to New York, Portland and Los Angeles, but Dallas weather presents a unique challenge to baristas due to rapid changes in temperature and humidity, which can noticeably affect the taste of coffee. With Mudsmith’s open-door setup it will be interesting to watch how baristas adapt to the transient season we call “spring.”
For baristas, variability is often the enemy, but for Dallas coffee enthusiasts, it’s what makes the burgeoning coffee scene interesting and worthwhile. Each shop — even each barista — has their own take, and as more places like Mudsmith open up, the ongoing conversation about Dallas coffee can continue.
Pegasus News Content partner - Entree Dallas
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