The Story Behind El Porton’s Coffee in East Dallas

There's now somewhere other than Starbucks to get coffee in Casa Linda.
There's now somewhere other than Starbucks to get coffee in Casa Linda. Taylor Adams
There’s a new coffee shop in Casa Linda, just to the west of White Rock Lake. The shotgun layout has some seating for those who brave indoor eating and drinking and a coffee bar before the door to the kitchen.

El Porton may feel like just another spot to grab a coffee and work over free Wi-Fi for a while, but it’s roasting some beans that make it more than that.

The coffee shop and roaster opened quietly Nov. 20 and is now serving light meals along with its coffee. Co-founders Bruno Bianchi and Isabel Amaya have a goal of showing the art of coffee and telling the story of where the beans come from.

“Me and my husband, we’re from El Salvador. We have family from across these farms, so we grew up in the coffee atmosphere,” Amaya says.

“One of the issues that we have in the coffee-producing cultures is people don’t care how much you’re paying for their cup of coffee, but they don’t know what’s going behind the coffee: It’s not sustainable, most of the farms aren’t anymore, people are struggling.

“What we’re trying to do here and what we want to introduce to the community is the story behind the coffee, what’s happening behind the coffee.”

They’re doing that through social media and with customers as they’re able — some plain don’t care, Amaya says, while others are happy to listen and learn. Ask Amaya (who does work behind the counter) about a blend, and she’ll tell you all about where it comes from.

They’re sourcing the beans, having them roasted in Austin and pouring cups and selling beans in East Dallas.

Amaya and her husband moved from El Salvador to Italy and landed in Dallas after years of visiting friends here. When they wanted to start the coffee business, they felt at home in East Dallas.

“What we like about this part of Dallas is they’re really open to new cultures, and when we started working with our Realtor to scout the places we told her our story, and so she knew right away that East Dallas would be our main spot,” Amaya says. “… And she was right about it, we were overwhelmed since the first week we opened.”

click to enlarge Ignore all but the quiche in this box, that breakfast item is a wonderful breakfast on the go. - TAYLOR ADAMS
Ignore all but the quiche in this box, that breakfast item is a wonderful breakfast on the go.
Taylor Adams
Opportunity is there, with the only other coffee option in the immediate area being a Starbucks. (By immediate, we mean the shopping center at Garland Road and North Buckner Boulevard. Cultivar is just up Garland Road from this spot.)

The breakfast menu has simple items. Our visit was possibly early enough into their opening that figuring out heating mechanisms made this wait longer than it will be in the future. Skip a breakfast burrito (unless you’re one of those eat-for-fuel types) and go for a mini quiche.

The little cup of crust with warm egg, cheese and ham was so good, this author devoured it as if she hadn’t eaten in days.

The food comes from Main Street Bakery & Bistro in Grapevine, a choice Amaya made herself, having studied culinary arts and working in the industry for years.

click to enlarge This is a lovely roast, though it leans acidic. - TAYLOR ADAMS
This is a lovely roast, though it leans acidic.
Taylor Adams
On our same recent visit, asking for a drip coffee resulted in a cup that was a wonderfully balanced roast. When asked for a bag of beans, Amaya (whom I had not yet interviewed) explained that particular one isn’t bagged at the moment — it is great, but a better one was on the shelf.

I went home with the El Salvador Geisha, which was quite lovely, though it definitely leans on the acidic side (so a lot on an empty stomach isn’t the most wonderful feeling in the world).

To that, Amaya recommends a darker roast, possibly from their Aida Batlle selection.

El Porton, 9540 Garland Road, No. 401 (Casa Linda). 4690954-3694. Open 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.