Barring monks and weirdos, we all drink coffee. And we have two types of coffee shops from which to choose: the trendy, independently owned spots or Starbucks. Traditionally, the eco-conscious, local-loving, soy milk-drinking people patronize the indie shops while the mainstreamers get their brew fix from one of the 21,000 stores within the monolithic Seattle chain. Many of us vacillate.
One of Dallas' newest independent operators is Houndstooth: The Pattern of Coffee and People, an Austin-transplanted shop on Henderson Avenue. Here, you can find sexy people sipping Americanos made of beans roasted across town in Tweed Coffee Roasters' Design District warehouse.
Houndstooth works a bit differently than other shops. You order your coffee directly from the barista, which seems ingenious, a design that surely forestalls wrong orders and wasted beans. But there's a catch. You have to, like, talk to your barista, meaning after you place your order, you have to answer a highly interested coffee artisan's interrogations about your weekend plans, how your day was, if you have a big week coming up, your New Years plans. He's not singing, but he might as well be.
Once, in the middle of the day when I was the only person in line, I was battered with three questions during an interminable five-minute latte order: where I got my shirt, if I'm enjoying the weather, and if I like David Bowie movies. No, no, and no. Well, maybe I somewhat enjoyed Labyrinth as a five-year-old, but that's none of the barista's business.
I left wondering, do I really look that friendly? Clearly I am not. When I want a coffee, I don't want to be subjugated to a feigned discourse with a stranger who's only asking about my life because that's what he learned to do in training. And I'm not enrolling in a bean sommelier class so I can learn about the nuances of flavor of the available espressos. I just want coffee, okay?
Bottom line: Is Houndstooth's coffee better? Yes, but probably not the place to go if you're in a rush. Or if you're a total misanthrope.