Down But Not Out, The Pearl Cup Continues To Thrive In The Suburbs.
Welcome to Unfiltered, our weekly feature that explores the Dallas coffee scene — and how it often manages to thrive in the most unusual places. Given that we live in a time when Starbucks locations are about as prevalent as the golden McDonald's arches, when new coffee shops seem to open every other week and when almost everyone uses a ChemEx to brew their coffee, we're here to show you some alternatives — for when your coffee shop routine becomes monotonous or when you're just looking for something different in your caffeine endeavors.
The Pearl Cup.
2701 Custer Parkway.
As an entity, the Pearl Cup has sure gone through a lot of changes in recent years.
What started out as a coffee haven for artists, urbanites and hipsters on Henderson Avenue has grown into three locations throughout the region where people can go for that signature Pearl Cup taste.
But that original Henderson location? It's gone.
So, yeah, lots of changes.
What hasn't changed, however, is owners Rita Davis and Carlene Saelg's dedication to providing the city with all things coffee-infused.
“We do everything,” Davis says from her business' newest shop in Richardson. “We're a full-service shop. We're for your coffee enthusiast.”
But, see, the Richardson location has a different vibe than you might expect. It has a natural, minimalist, almost organic feel to it. And it seems to just be waiting to be filled the personalities of the shop's new, suddenly suburban-focused clientele. With a lot more families, students and tech industry workers in the area, this shop was built out for this particular clientele, with its design aimed at providing a welcoming atmosphere for the neighborhood's dwellers.
The cafe area has been separated into two spaces — one for studying and one to engage in community activities. A beautiful pet-friendly patio was also added for customers to enjoy their hand-crafted drinks while taking in the fresh air. The City of Richardson even commemorated them for their efforts in making the outside of their business a part of the community — especially because it sits right off of a bike path.
All of these changes aside, the coffee is what you've come to expect from The Pearl Cup — a taste that has stood the test of time. As with previous locations, Richardson customers can choose just about any coffee drink imaginable from the menu. And, here at this spot, they can also pair their drinks with baked goods, sandwiches and breakfast burritos that are made in-house.
“We really wanted to try to do things at this location at a little bit different,” Saelg says. “This is the only location that we can sell desserts and burritos — so this kind of our fortunate sweet spot.”
Coffee beans, meanwhile, are delivered weekly from Topeca Roasters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, ensuring that the shop's signature taste is always fresh and never in short supply. Espresso is pulled with careful attention to detail from a Synesso manual machine with the words “Pearl Cup” inscribed on the back. A warm, chocolaty, nutty taste showcases the flavors of Central American, African and Indonesian coffees used in The Pearl Cup blend.
That taste is no accident, either. The baristas here undergo two weeks of training before being unleashed and allowed to serve customers with consistently good drinks and a pleasant demeanor. Basically, it makes the whole experience all the more worthwhile.
But Richardson has also been somewhat of a blank slate for Davis and Saelg, allowing them to take a different approach than before. In six years of business, these two have watched on as the coffee enthusiast demographic in Dallas has grown from virtually nothing to the coffee-loving town that it's now slowly becoming.
“There's a huge learning curve,” says Saelg. “Richardson is on the very beginning of that learning curve.”
All the same, the team at The Pearl Cup has been in this position before. And, through experience, they've developed a knack for drawing in curious customers used to getting their coffee from chain corporations — and then getting them to fall in love with what they do just as well, if not better. “
“Every day, we get people who've never come in before,” Davis says. “That's the exciting part — getting to know a brand new population of people who don't even know about our other shops.”