By June Naylor
Photos by Ralph Lauer
While Starbucks still rules, independent coffee shops have opened at an explosive rate in the past year. Who knew we needed so many cortados? Or that we were so eager for lavender lattes? It’s good to have options, especially if you can’t have dairy. At our new stops, soy, almond and coconut milk are readily available. And the Joe is good, too; many of these barista bars roast their own beans. Then there’s the food. Coffee shop menus have expanded beyond the obligatory muffin, including offerings of vegan or vegetarian pastries that taste as good as they look. Microgreens on a breakfast frittata is now a thing. Toast? Sure, but it is likely to be a locally made sourdough. We revisited five of our favorite coffeehouses to see what’s cooking.
Crude Craft Coffee Bar
Crude was the first to arrive in the now bustling South Main neighborhood. With plentiful seating along a window-front counter, at assorted tables and on pretty, cozy couches, there’s workspace appeal balanced by social atmosphere. Sitting close to the barista’s workstation, we overheard breathlessly enthusiastic chats about a variety of coffee beans from Yemen that had been planted in El Salvador. That’s how serious co-owner Corey Bloodworth is about what he roasts. The perfectly gorgeous cappuccinos are topped by a graceful swan swirl. These are rivaled only by the pastry creations fashioned on-site by his mom, Teresa Bloodworth, who’s rightfully becoming famous for her strawberry cream cookies, topped with an elegant roselike bloom of frosting. (When they’re missing from the menu, guests nearly panic.) We’ve become fond of Bloodworth’s marble cupcakes, too, rippled yellow and chocolate cake crowned with a fudge-cream cheese frosting. Note that it’s possible to place orders for three-layer cakes — from Hershey bar to Italian cream — that serve 12 to 50. Want a good breakfast taco? They make those, too, Tuesday through Sunday. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
804 S. Main St., Fort Worth, 682-224-5541, crudecoffeebar.com
The two locations — one in North Richland Hills and one in Fort Worth — have their own personalities, but both share ambitious coffee programs, with food to match. Owner Janice Townsend opened her first shop in NRH in 2009, and it has since become a gathering place for regulars, as well as a champion of local vendors such as the popular Fox & Otter pickles. Her new Cowtown location is much smaller (a patio will increase seating capacity in nice weather), but the quiet and cozy spot attracts neighborhood locals. And the attention to detail remains. Using coffee from Novel Coffee Roasters in Dallas, baristas prepare Roots’ java drinks with beans roasted just two to 12 days prior. Every coffee creation you’d want is available, plus lovely seasonal offerings, such as a dark chocolate-clementine mocha we enjoyed on our visit. A spring menu promises specialty coffees infused with lavender and/or lemon, as well as an inspired menu. On-staff chefs Alissa Probst and Kelsey Bradeen roll out gluten-free blueberry lemon bars, banana blueberry muffins, chocolate chip-sea salt cookies and lavender-lemon cake this month, joining their savory offerings, the frittata muffin and avocado toast (with sourdough from The Proof Bakery in Fort Worth) topped with local microgreens, sea salt and red pepper flakes. Open early daily, with hours varying by location.
9101 Texas 26, North Richland Hills, 817-503-7344 400 Bryan Ave., Fort Worth, 817-349-8059 rootscoffeehouse.com
David Clarke is the person we thank for introducing us to real coffeehouse culture. The Manchester, England, native — owner of three coffee cafes in our area — fell hard for the European experience as a young man traveling through Italy a few decades back. Longing for a place where people spend time together over exceptional coffee, he opened the original Buon Giorno in Grapevine in 2006 after moving here for a job. The Fort Worth location opened in 2010 — it has recently moved a few blocks away to a new home on the bottom of a high-rise — and the Southlake store made its debut in 2017. Clarke set the bar high, roasting his own beans and employing the rare hand-levered espresso machine. Vintage posters and ceramic coffee cups feature the signature emblem of Buon Giorno: the Fiat, Italy’s everyday car. Rooms are filled with tables and sitting areas for relaxed visiting, and guests hang out, too, for Buon Giorno’s handmade pastries. Both sweet and savory, the treats come from the industrious baking trio of Catie Keck, Rachelle Clarke (David’s daughter-in-law) and Ren Newman. To go along with the baristas’ espressos, lattes and more, these three turn out all manner of scones, shortbread cookies and muffins, along with specialty tarts, cinnamon twists, cabinet pudding (the English take on bread pudding) and spinach-goat cheese quiche. Look for a Cornish pastry, a lunch treat with steak, rutabaga and potato; and full English breakfast pie. Open daily from early morning, with hours varying by location.
2350 Hall Johnson Road, Grapevine, 817-421-7300 500 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, 817-698-9888 1901 W. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, 817-912-1483 bgcoffee.net
All About Cha
The lone North Texas outpost of an Oklahoma institution introduces us to the modern Korean tearoom. Yes, there are macchiato, cappuccino and Americano selections aplenty, but we go for the exquisite floral teas. Served in a glass pot, the All About 5 Cha is a green tea blended with chrysanthemum, mulberry, akebia quinata and buckwheat. Watch the blooms flower, then drink in the healing botanicals. Among distinctive dishes made in the kitchen, it’s a toss-up between delicate crepes filled with fruit or the bulgogi omelet. All About Cha draws a mixed crowd to its convivial setting with lots of seating and light streaming in through large windows. You’ll find moms enjoying midday time out with friends, the usual laptop crowd and families, too. Another plus? There’s plenty of parking. Open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
250 Randol Mill Ave., Southlake, 817-562-4222, facebook.com/allaboutchasouthlake
Of all the newish places, this one feels most like it has been plucked from East Austin. Concrete floors, potted green plants, couches and booths filled with folks reading novels, and clutches of young families all contribute to a post-hippie vibe. Owner Carrie Collins fosters a friendly atmosphere: Someone behind the counter welcomes you the second you’re through the door, but nobody rushes you to decide among a drip coffee, pour over, full immersion, herbal tea or something special like the lavender-blackberry latte. Don’t know what you want? The staff walks you easily through choices (all the coffee beans are roasted on-site). The food is a boon for vegans, but we can assure you that even carnivores leave happy. The tofu breakfast burrito is a filling morning meal; you’d never know those aren’t actual eggs — and the green salsa is spot-on. Most intriguing is the charcoal waffle, a specialty Collins makes with a scratch batter infused with cinnamon and activated charcoal (said to be a good detoxifying agent). Whipped cream on top is nice, or ask for sliced bananas. Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
326 Bryan Ave., Fort Worth, arcadiacoffee.org