The Berni Bean Coffee Co. Brings Costa Rica to Dallas

Ever wonder why avocado toast became a thing? Now you know.
Ever wonder why avocado toast became a thing? Now you know. Courtesy The Berni Bean Coffee Co.

If you can’t pin down how long you’ve been longing for a vacation, you’re not alone. But if you’re imaginative, a trip to Costa Rica could be as close as your next coffee break.

Born and raised in Costa Rica in a family that’s been in the coffee business for generations, sister and brother duo Guiliana and Stefano Bernini started The Berni Bean Coffee Co. as an online store selling Costa Rican coffee.

After moving to Dallas late last year, Guiliana opened a brick and mortar location downtown, where she hopes to share her heritage, some excellent specialty coffee and her love of Costa Rica.

The Central American country known for ecotourism is reflected in the decor of the coffee shop, but also more deeply in the company’s commitment to sustainability and support for the rainforest.

In the online store, customers can order two specialty coffees, both medium-dark roasts as whole beans or one of four different grinds. Don Flor has brown sugar tones with orange and cherry flavors, while Pepiada has a nutty flavor with dark caramel tones.

In the shop, coffee is made with a blend of both beans created by the Austin small-batch roaster Greater Goods Coffee. Coffees include Americano, espresso, cappuccino, pour overs and specialty lattes.

Tucked away in the Hartford Building, the shop occupies the roomy 3,000-square-foot space that was once Mad Hatter Cafe. If you ever ate in that low-key lunch spot with Mardi Gras colors and Alice in Wonderland art, the transformation is jaw-dropping.

A soft color scheme makes the place look even larger, and the decor features a thatched coffee bar and plants from Costa Rica. A recessed area offers bench seating and wood-grained tables with wicker lamp shades overhead.
click to enlarge Berni Bean's store includes a stage for live music in the future. - COURTESY THE BERNI BEAN COFFEE CO.
Berni Bean's store includes a stage for live music in the future.
Courtesy The Berni Bean Coffee Co.
A small stage offers a space for the coffee shop to host live music in the future, and the area will also be used as a space for other small businesses to show their products. The whimsical mural on the back wall represents the rainforest, and an Instagrammable photo wall depicts greenery that carries the tropical theme forward.

A percentage of every purchase is donated to help the rainforest in Costa Rica, and that’s not the company’s only eco-friendly stance. Coffee grounds are used as fertilizer for plant growth, and customers can get free compost to nourish home gardens.

In addition to a substantial coffee menu, the shop offers an impressive list of flavored lattes, teas and special matcha drinks. The Mango Loco Latte with mango, coconut syrup and shredded coconut is a standout among other flavors that include cinnamon French toast, white mocha and s’mores.

The Blue Beach Matcha Latte mixes finely ground green tea leaf powder with steamed milk, coconut and blueberry. Other drink options include bubble teas and cold brews.

A coffee shop isn’t complete without baked goods, and Berni Bean hasacookies, croissants and cruffins among the choices provided by a partnership with Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie.

You can also get delicious specialty toasts baked in house with bread sourced from Boulangerie. There’s a turkey and Swiss variety and a sweet Nutella and banana toast on French bread. The avocado toast tops avocado spread with an egg, Himalayan salt and blue agave sriracha on ciabatta bread.

All of this makes brunch possible any day of the week, and the “trip” to Costa Rica is just a bonus.

The Berni Bean Coffee Co., 400 N. Saint Paul St., No. 120 (downtown). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
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By day, Kristina Rowe writes documentation that helps users navigate software, and as a contributor to the Dallas Observer she helps people find their way to food and fun. A long-time list-maker, small-business fan and happiness aficionado, she's also been an Observer reader for almost 40 years.
Contact: Kristina Rowe