Anchored by a $20,000 espresso machine that not only pulled a perfect shot every time but also created a media buzz about the place, Ascension opened to a flurry of news coverage that filled the space with customers. Interesting and refined coffee kept them there.

And yet, Ascension has more up its sleeve. As the afternoon approaches, most coffee shops become sleepy if they don't close first, but Hayward uses the setting sun for a new lease on life. Opaque curtains that obscure the floor-to-ceiling windows and dim lighting convert the place into an attractive dining room that's as good for an evening glass of wine as it is for a pork chop. The food here pales in comparison with the coffee — the execution doesn't keep up, with overcooked proteins and under-toasted paninis — but it's still serviceable and rounds out an offering that gives patrons an excuse to be here at any time of day or night.

A slow, cold extraction process is the secret to some highly caffeinated iced coffee.
Catherine Downes
A slow, cold extraction process is the secret to some highly caffeinated iced coffee.

Details

Ascension

1621 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite A, 214-741-3211, ascensioncoffee.com. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. $$

Pastries $1.75-$3.50

Breakfast taco $1.50

Panini $9

Salmon rillettes $9

Pork chop $17

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Behind the counter a tall, glass science experiment, complete with spiraling tubes and multiple reservoirs, precisely makes one eyedropper's worth of iced coffee at a time. The daylong process results in a complex brew laced with hints of bourbon and fruit. It's a good metaphor for the long, drawn-out process that Hayward started more than a decade ago with a misplaced espresso machine in an Uptown Asian restaurant. "Dallas wasn't ready for it then," Hayward said when asked what took him so long. Surrounded by his team of intense coffee nerds and well-caffeinated customers, it's safe to say he's on the right side of average now.

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