There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Avoca, Fort Worth's Newest Independently-Owned Coffee Shop

A few people stand at the coffee bar ordering multiple shots of something hot, dark and delicious. They look satisfied as the owner explains what they’re drinking. Then they try another. More people walk in to do the same. They don’t take a seat, rather they just stand at the bar consuming multiple shots of coffee and talking with the baristas/owners behind the bar.

“That’s our business model; it’s to teach and help people learn about coffee,” Avoca co-owner Jimmy Story said. “We want people to know what they’re drinking and where it comes from.”

Some of us have to work, so I take a seat. This place is cool. It has a peaceful, friendly and local feeling about it. Maybe that’s because it IS friendly, local and peaceful. It is open with high ceilings, concrete floors and sliding glass garage-like doors that I assume they will roll open on a beautiful day. The music is not cacophonous either. 

Story and his coffee companion, Garold LaRue, opened Avoca March 17 on Magnolia just across from Spiral Diner. That's a mere 12 days ago, and this place is busy! LaRue has been in coffee for 14 years as a barista, and his family grew coffee in Nicaragua long before that. He’s known coffee his whole life, and has been brainstorming this place since October 2009.

Like a stalker I would drive by wondering when it was going to happen because the sign has been up for a while. I work mostly from home and am always looking for a great place to pitch my work cubicle tent for a few hours. I’m sure coffee shop people are like, “Great, here she comes. [I walk up to the counter] Will you be having the same today, Miss?” I wonder if they make bets on how long I’m going to occupy their valuable space. Dang! But I’ve found a new coffee shop victim that has bright, open space and phenomenal coffee. By the way, the latte was magnificent; it took me back to my old study abroad days in Rome.

After talking to LaRue and Story for a while about coffee, I became excited about my next experience there. Story explained how I should begin my java journey, which is to select a coffee origin first: Mexico, Peru, etc. Then select a roast and how I want the coffee prepared. Would you like the press pot or pour over method? Would you like steamed milk? How much? Would you like the milk poured over the top or blended into the coffee? Adding water will change the coffee notes too. Sounds overwhelming, but the owners are there to happily guide you through the coffee conundrum.

“Coffee has more notes than wine,” LaRue said. And each process changes those notes.

A customer may come up and say, “I want to try something new.” LaRue surprises them. He asks the patron to pay attention to notes in the coffee and to what they like and dislike. It reminded me of being fitted for a wedding gown (or a mountain bike for you men out there).

To the left of the coffee bar is a huge warehouse full of material where LaRue and Story roast their own coffee, which they sell as well. The warehouse also serves as a barista training center … like a culinary school for coffee or something. He said one day they hope to offer classes on roasting, brewing, frothing and steaming coffee. Sign me up.

LaRue has hopes for his new place — to bring in more customers and teach them about coffee and support local providers. “There are a lot of local businesses doing excellent work,” LaRue said. All of their goods are brought in from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Co-owner Jimmy Story at the end of a long day
So where did the name Avoca come from? Story said they originally had 253 potential names for the shop but settled on Avoca, which means “great mouth” in Gaelic. And I expect your mouth will have a great experience when you try this coffee.