Yesterday, Roasted woke up craving a fresh cup of something different--a steaming-hot cup of new from a coffee house that we had yet to try.
But, even with the aid of Google Map's clear directions, Roasted overlooked the sign on the front yard identifying the 1920's bungalow on Routh Street as Crooked Tree Coffeehouse. Drove right past. Yes, there's a sign above the entrance too, but, in our defense, it's kinda difficult to spot the signs from the street with a SUV and a BMW parked right out front. But we digress.
And, on the second pass, it was easy to spot the quaint home-turned-java-house thanks to a steady stream of patrons filing in and out of the popular Uptown coffee shop. In fact, from down the street, the building at 2414 Routh Street looked kinda like a high-trafficked drug den -- as it played host to a revolving cast of well-dressed business men, tired-eyed students and SMU bros in running shoes--most only parking their cars and staying inside long enough to get their fix.
Which left plenty of comfy seating available for Roasted to test out, while drinking a "bottomless" cup. But, as the morning wore on, the three rooms and the seating started filling up, and by 10 a.m. the place was crowded. Almost too crowded. That's what happens when you put a coffee house in an old house and offer plenty of cushy seating and free Wi-Fi.
Opened in June 2008, by Dallas-area natives Kristyn Bartley and Sarah Momary, Crooked Tree Coffeehouse lives up to the house part of its name by preserving the cozy, homey-vibe of the old residence. The two front rooms are filled with comfy couches, love seats and chairs and an assortment of coffee tables, end tables and lamps.
The two baristas behind the counter were all smiles and offered a friendly greeting as Roasted walked up to order a cup of coffee. The barista at the register asked: "bold or medium?"
Naturally, Roasted inquired about the two coffee options, and the barista clearly knew his beans. Both, he said, were excellent coffees, roasted locally by Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. The bolder offering was Victor Prosper's Roast; a French Roast that the barista said is one of the shop's darkest offerings.
The mild was Guatemala Finca Villaure. "It's a direct trade coffee," the barista said, explaining that Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters buys the coffee beans directly from the farmer who grows it.
Fair Trade coffees describe those that are certified to be grown on sustainable farms by farmers and workers who are paid a "fair wage." Coffees that are "direct trade" mean no middlemen, and more money for farmers to invest back into their farms, their families and their communities. In the case of the Guatemala Finca Villaure, according to a bag we found on a display near the espresso machine, Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters buys directly from the Villatoro family in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.
Since both sounded like coffee worth sampling, we decided to order a "bottomless cup" for $2.50. That and an iced "lemon drop" scone. (Though the scones and bagels are not vegan, a good selection of Crooked Tree's pastry offerings are vegan and brought in fresh from Dallas' Tough Cookie Bakery.)
Mug in hand, Roasted explored the rest of the main room and the side room, which was essentially just a bunch of miss-matched tables and chairs and a shelf with books and board games.
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The Victor Prosper's was smooth and bittersweet with only a hint of acidity in the finish. And the Finca Villaure was clean and bright with a smooth mouthfeel, and the coffee's citrus notes paired perfectly with the lemon scone. And, while getting a refill, we discovered that one of the baristas working the bar yesterday morning happened to be co-owner Bartley, so we asked her about the coffees that Crooked Tree serves.
"It's the way to do coffee right," she said. "The areas where coffee is grown are some of the most poverty-stricken places in the world, and we feel Fair Trade or direct trade coffees are a way for us to give back to those communities. So, we only deal with roasters who take that as seriously as they take the quality of the coffee."
In addition to the beans from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, the shop also carries beans from BuyWell Coffee, a Colorado-based roaster who only carries Fair Trade Organic coffees.
So, if you like some feel-good with your cup of mud, then you may find a home at Crooked Tree like so many in this Uptown neighborhood already have. Even Bartley was quick to concede that "our biggest complaint is that people can't find seats."