Murray Street Coffee Shop Will Be Your New Home Away From Home.
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.
Murray Street Coffee Shop.
103 Murray Street.
In case we haven’t stressed this enough: Dallas is slowly making its mark on the coffee industry, even if it still has a ways to go to earn its stripes as a coffee city.
It seems like only recently with the influx of independent coffee shops that the city is starting to register a blip on coffee radars. But don’t think of coffee culture as something that’s new to the area. Even while chains and gas station drip dominated the market, there were still a few neighborhood shops dedicated to providing more than just a standard cup of mediocre coffee.
Although many of those places have seen the way of Blockbuster, Limewire and other relics of the past, Murray Street Coffee Shop has managed to stand the test of time as one of the veterans of the Dallas coffee game, ensuring that area coffee lovers had a proper alternative to Starbucks.
“I feel like it’s a place that’s definitely in service to the neighborhood that people know to go to,” says barista Taylor Ellis about the familiar nature of the shop.
On the east edge of Deep Ellum, Murray Street is as warm and welcoming as a neighborhood shop should be. It’s location inside of an old converted loft space feels as if you’re walking inside of someone’s home, perhaps a consequence of its tenure in the area. Walls are lined with a variety of eye-catching art, illuminated by ornate globe light fixtures. An abundance of seating inside and outside accommodates people looking to work on their laptops, or just catch up with friends. In various corners throughout the shop, you can find board games, books and various trinkets guaranteed to engage conversation with the baristas or other customers. There’s no shortage of things to draw your interest, making it an ideal place for people looking for more than just a grab-and-go experience.
“It’s a small shop — a neighborhood shop — so it needs to be a hangout,” says Ellis. “You don’t need to feel like you should just come in, get your coffee and get the heck out. The sense of neighborhood is the most important thing.”
Murray Street has more of an old-school coffee shop vibe, with a coffee menu of drip and espresso fare that strays away from some of the newer craft techniques. The beans come from Eiland Coffee Roasters out of Richardson, with four or five coffees in rotation at a time.
Currently, the selection includes: El Salvadorian, Costa Rican, Honduran, Kenyan and Ethiopian beans. Here, you can expect to find bold, full-bodied coffees that are smooth the palate with pleasant aftertastes. There’s no focus on featuring a specific type of roast, as the idea is to feature a variety of tastes for the shop’s diverse customer base. The Honduran, a medium roast, comes recommended for its rich, chocolatey finish.
Naturally, espresso is a standard option, with the mocha (particularly iced for the summer months) as a popular drink choice. Another popular drink is the iced toddy, a cold brew coffee made with a rotating bean selection. The coffee concentrate is bold, but naturally sweet with a smooth and clean aftertaste, and no sludgy after effects.
While providing customers with quality coffee is an important part of the business, the atmosphere of the place is almost equally important. Owners Doug and Liz Davis try to ensure that the vibe of the shop is just as good as the products they send out. It’s one of those coffee shops where the playlist, thanks to Doug’s stint as a music critic, is about as essential as the menu itself.
With almost a decade under its belt, the shop has watched the Dallas coffee culture transition into what Ellis calls “a learner’s market,” where the emphasis is on coffee education. In a time where many new coffee shops focus on the intricacies of brewing techniques and flavor profiles, Murray Street has remained loyal to the concept of a simple, neighborhood java joint.
“In a city where people like new stuff, one thing that’s kind of a testament to the job that we do here is that we’re still around after nine years,” says Ellis. “It’s kind of just become an institution at this point.”
All photos by Kathy Tran.