For all of the frenzied development near the intersection of O’Connor and Las Colinas boulevards in Irving over the last two years, one vital element has been highly conspicuous in its absence: coffee.
Thankfully for the cubicle warriors and apartment dwellers who hustle and bustle inside the always buzzing Las Colinas district, Pax and Beneficia, a new coffee shop located in the Water Street development, opened its well-caffeinated doors a couple of weeks ago.
Nestled near Mexican diner El Famoso, craft beer spot the Ginger Man and the sweet treats of Creamistry, all just across O’Connor Boulevard from the popular Mustangs sculpture in front of the Williams Square Plaza Towers, it’s clear things are finally filling out rather nicely on this intersection.
Once inside Pax and Beneficia, the bright, white and blue-tiled room encased by walls of windows feels larger than it really is.
The menu is simple and direct, but don’t confuse that for anything less than serious. Along with standard espresso drink offerings such as a latte, cappuccino, flat white and cortado, customers can also order pour-over cups of coffee and a nitro cold brew.
Pax and Beneficia uses beans from Merit Roasting Company, a San Antonio-based roaster that has recently opened a couple of Dallas coffee shops of its own.
On a recent visit, we took the helpful barista’s suggestion to try the pour-over with Merit’s Penaherrera beans.
“It comes out tasting a bit like grape juice. I know that sounds weird, but just trust me,” she told us.
We did, and she wasn’t wrong. Thankfully, the well-made cup tasted far more like a bright cup with just enough acidity to make things interesting and keep things a tad light. While a hip-hop playlist made itself just known enough to be both energizing and unobtrusive, we didn’t see any of the other patrons ordering what might be the house specialty, Turkish coffee.
When you step up to the counter to order, you see a brilliant copper display complete with an ornate serving tray, a tiny cup and a cup-sized pot (ibrik) with a long wooden handle. The traditional Turkish coffee presentation display stands next to the La Marzocco espresso machine, pastry display and bean grinders.
Listed simply as “Turkish” on the menu board, for $6 it’s worth checking out for the sheer ritualistic drama. Surely, Oscar, Toby and Pam from The Office would’ve donned their berets for a bit of this international treat during a meeting of their Finer Things Club.
For the uninitiated, the staff were willing and cordial with their explanations as to how properly to enjoy the Turkish coffee.
After the water boils in the ibrik, according to barista Corey, the finely ground coffee is added to the ibrik and brought back to a boil until the coffee foams at the top.
We were advised to avoid drinking every bit of the coffee, as Turkish coffee requires the finest grind available — it’s similar to flour consistency — and the dregs settle at the bottom in a rather mud-like fashion. If you’re a French press connoisseur, you’re familiar with the sediment-covered end of a cup.
Rather than grind the same Merit beans used for the espresso and drip beverages, Pax and Beneficia uses Café Shami coffee, pre-ground with cardamom. Barista Corey told us it would be very hard for them to replicate the right consistency and flavor with the rather light roasts of the Merit beans, and he says the Café Shami is a widely appreciated brand for Turkish coffee.
He suggested we dress it with a touch of sugar, but we found the floral spiciness of the cardamom gave the velvety sip all the flavor we needed. Those same aromatic notes pleasantly wafted above the demitasse cup and the ibrik for a sensory-packed moment.
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During this second trip to the shop, we found, unlike the prior day, there were many folks giving the Turkish coffee a shot and enjoying themselves as much as we were.
The slightly filmy, creamy mouth feel and unique flavor twinge allowed the relatively small serving size to feel like a much bigger experience than what is more or less the size of a couple of doppio espressos. Corey told us the cardamom in the coffee means they serve more of a “Syrian style” Turkish coffee, rather than traditional Turkish coffee, which doesn’t employ the spice element into the finely ground beans.
For as often as the Las Colinas business district can feel like an episode of The Office, or better yet, the film Office Space, new places such Pax and Beneficia are adding their flavorful, expertly brewed pieces of flair to the mundane corporate mix.
Pax and Beneficia, 5244 N. O’Connor Blvd., Suite 150, Irving. Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.