In The Face Of Underwhelming Restaurant Coffee Programs, Company Cafe Strives To Be Something Better
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.
2104 Greenville Avenue.
It's not uncommon for a customer to walk into a restaurant and order a cup of coffee.
In fact, it's pretty safe to say that for most restaurants, especially those that serve breakfast, the whole concept's fairly standard. Cup after cup gets dished out along with orders of pancakes and various styled eggs in order to satisfy that morning caffeine craving.
But just because you can order a cup of coffee with your breakfast doesn't mean it's any good.
You never know if going out to breakfast — or ordering coffee for that afternoon or evening pick-me-up — means receiving a mediocre cup of lukewarm coffee that you can just barely choke down with your meal or if you have to settle for pricey pastries from your local coffee shop that'll leave you underwhelmed in the hunger department.
Finding a place that has that perfect balance between good food and good coffee? That's a pretty underrated part of the dining experience.
So thank goodness for spots like Company Cafe, which consider coffee to be just as important of a customer draw as the food it serves. When Jeff Wells, Marcus Thompson and Siobhan Omlor opened their concept four years ago, their vision was to provide great-tasting, gluten-free dishes that anyone could enjoy. And alongside a menu that focuses on the freshest natural local ingredients, they knew from the start that they wanted coffee to be a part of their brand.
“We always knew that we wanted to offer great coffee with our delicious food,” says Omlor. “We would not settle for anything less.”
At the Greenville Avenue location of Company Cafe, that idea is bolstered by bamboo and warm wooden accents, which are meant to help it to stand out amongst an array of different restaurants, coffee shops and urban storefronts along the popular street. Inside, the restaurant has the coziness and warmth you'd want from spending time on a friend's patio, but with the perks and services of a full bar. Inside, the decor consists of dark wooden seating paired with colorful works of art, including a vibrant mural of Big Tex prominently displayed on one of the walls. This location (the second location is over by the Katy Trail) has the type of ambiance that immediately draws customers in and makes them feel welcome — especially if they happen to catch a glance at the cooler full of fresh-baked pies and glass-bottled sodas just inside the door.
Here, there are menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, all inspired by local influences and ingredients. You can order dishes like the Company Migas (smoked chicken and scrambled eggs with black beans, bell pepper and onion, topped with tortillas strips and feta), chicken-fried steak and eggs, fish tacos and burgers, among many other items available throughout the day.
As for the coffee, Company Cafe operates a dedicated espresso bar in addition to its alcohol program, receiving its beans from Full City Rooster.
“We tried several coffee roasters until we found the one we liked best,” says Omlor. “Our coffee has really grown and changed over the last four years since.”
The coffee menu is pretty simple, focusing mostly on drip coffee, French press, lattes and cappuccinos. Lattes and cappuccinos tend to be the drinks of choice, as the chocolaty, nutty flavors of the espresso and the sweetness of the milk tend to pair well with most of the food items, especially the breakfast. But there's more at play here: Company Cafe looks for beans that don't just smell or taste good, but that also meet the requirements for body, acidity and balance (for a quality taste without cream or sugar). Currently, the beans used come from the Dominican Republic, as South American beans tend to embody this combination of traits.
And although being a restaurant that serves coffee isn't exactly anything new, Company Cafe works to set the bar high for both the food and coffee aspect of their business.
“Typically, when you go to a specialty coffee shop or restaurant, one area tends to lack — whether it be the bland coffee shop food and over-priced pastries or the not so special drip coffee you brave for good food,” says Omlor. “It's hard to find a place that you can be satisfied with in both areas, so we strive to be the exception.”
And even with impressive dedicated coffee shops serving as its neighbors, Company Cafe has indeed done a pretty good job of finding that balance between good food and good coffee.
“Dallas has really stepped up its game when it comes to coffee,” says Omlor. “Within the last few years, a lot of really great roasters and coffee shops have started raising the standard for not only drip coffee, but handmade lattes and other other espresso drinks. I think Company Cafe both fits in with the coffee program here, but I definitely think we stand out and possibly alone at the same time.”