Is Dunn Bros Coffee's Iced Infinite Black™ Worth Making A U-Turn For?
Photos By Daniel Rodrigue
Unless someone knows exactly where to find the Dunn Bros Coffee in Dallas, then the first time they visit that branch of the award-winning coffee franchise there's a good chance they'll drive right past the drive-through coffee house and coffee roaster -- even Dunn Bros' baristas say that they often hear missed-it-by-that-much remarks from new customers.
Hell, Roasted bets most of you have buzzed right past it while driving on LBJ Freeway.
Blame the trees, the high speeds and the overpasses, but Dunn Bros also seems dwarfed by the high-rises, hotels and other buildings located on the westbound side frontage road of the freeway just past The Galleria (so, to clarify, the northwest corner where LBJ meets the Dallas North Tollway). Dunn kindly provides directions from every approach here.
But, as one of the shop's tenured baristas remarked yesterday morning, "It only takes that one time to find it." His sly, toothy insinuation was that once folks do find Dunn Bros. they'll be making a return trip.
A bold claim perhaps, but hot too bold for a coffee shop that brews up what the Observer named Best Fresh-Roasted Cup of Joe in '08, and if you followed either of the above "award-winning" links or were to scroll through the awards section on the company's website, then you'll see that these Dunn franchises are clearly brewing something right.
And to think, all those awards came before Dunn Bros started selling its aptly-named Infinite Black Cold Press Coffee in refillable 64-ounce glass growlers last month. Their cold-press method extraction process takes a full 24 hours, and the result is a flavorful and, as advertised, "robustly caffeinated" iced coffee.
But, is the inky drink any good? Keep reading after the jump for answers to that and many more questions that you didn't know you had about one of the best coffee shops in Dallas.
Yesterday morning, after being greeted at the door by the aroma of fresh-roasted coffee, Roasted was also immediately -- and very warmly -- greeted by two of the shop's baristas. One barista was working behind the espresso bar, taking orders and making drinks.
The other was manning the shop's purple Diedrich roaster, which is set up front and center so it's the first thing you see when you walk in. On a daily basis, Dunn Bros roast their coffee beans and toss out old beans out after a week, long before many big coffee chains even receive their shipments from their out-of-state roasting plants. (Even the shop's free-WiFi with purchase password is a nod to the company's fresh-roasted philosophy.)
Within a minute of approaching the counter -- during peak morning-rush hours -- Roasted had a hot cup of French Roast Sumatra and a cold cup of Infinite Black (based on the name alone, though the baristas description of the process proved that these baristas know their beans). And those refillable glass growlers are only $14.95, and, a friend of Roasted tells us that in the fridge the stuff tasted good (and lasted) for a full week.
Both coffees were bold, with plenty of character. The Infinite Black was flavorful and robust as advertised with hints of cocoa. Though, Roasted noted that the brew wasn't as smooth as Buli's Naughty Toddy.
The décor inside this location of Dunn Bros is warmer and a bit more inviting than the Addison spot, with most of the Dallas shop's color palette drawn from deep purples and reds with accents of walnut woods. The shop's high ceilings and well-spaced tables and chairs help the café feel open even when there's a decent number of folks inside working on their laptops and iPads.
And, Dunn's purple comfy chairs have cup holders in the arms. Cup holders! It should also be mentioned that there's no weird sizes to order on Dunn's menu, customers just order by ounce (12, 16 and 20). In fact, while Roasted's touting things other coffee shops should learn from Dunn, the shop's we-roast-our-beans-on-site idea is also worth copycatting.
Dunn Bros has been waving the fresh-roasted coffee flag since founding in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1987. Once the company started franchising in 1994 it quickly gave all those folks who wished they could franchise a Starbucks a real, viable and competitive option to the we-don't-do-franchises coffee giant.
Anyway, by 2006, Dunn Bros climbed its way onto the list of the "top 10 coffeehouse chains" in the United States, and, today, the company boasts 90 or so locations across the Midwest (seven in our Lone Star State, with a third metroplex shop in Fort Worth).
The Dallas location opened up some three years back, and, if you're tired of visiting coffee chains but you prefer your brew to taste consistently good, then Dunn Bros is worth the trip. Even if you have to make a U-turn or two in the process.
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