At Lekka, Keeping Things Simple Means Keeping Things Right.
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.
17606 Preston Road.
Far North Dallas.
Let's be real here: When it comes to doing just about anything, simple is always better.
We look for the shortest, easiest routes when driving from point A to B. We abbreviate words frequently in conversations and in text messages. If there's any way to ease the stress of our lives even just a little bit, we go for it.
Lekka (South African for “awesome, amazing and delicious”) in North Dallas does coffee simple, too. But it does so in the most classic of ways.
You might be familiar with this spot's take on coffee, since they are an off shoot of the unconventional Obzeet.
After 20 years at its original location, owners Gary and Lynne Kirschenbaum decided to branch out and do their own thing. Worth noting: Now they're also right down the road from Coffee House Cafe.
But Lekka indeed boasts an identity all its own. Upon first glance, it doesn't even look like a cafe, really. Instead, it feels like you're visiting some type of gardening center; there's no shortage of ornate clay and stone pottery displayed in front of the entrance. Then, once inside, your eyes are drawn to the gift shop comprised of trinkets and treasures from different countries. The cafe itself has chic black, white and green furnishings supplemented by aged wood and elegant lighting. Jazz standards lilt in the background until it's time to switch to '80s hits for the night-time crowd.
The coffee menu is brief and uncomplicated. Lekka mainly focuses on standard espresso fare — with the exception of their Freezos frozen cappuccino, which more closely resembles a cappuccino-flavored milkshake. There's still enough of a coffee taste to wink at its caffeinated predecessor, but it's also not overwhelmingly sweet.
Lekka also uses Lavazza, an Italian coffee for all of their espresso drinks: “My quote for Lavazza would be Lavazza or nothing!,” says owner Gary Kirschenbaum.
The process is straightforward. The espresso machine is a Lavazza Blue, which can pull two shots of espresso at a time. There's no real notable technique to it. The people behind the bar make it seem effortless.
“I don't consider myself to be a barista,” offers Michael, one of the employees in charge of making drinks this past week. “I just know how to make a mean cup of coffee.”
And good espresso drinks, too. Michael's espresso offerings were just as good as — maybe even better — than the work I've seen from baristas I've met who are fully obsessed with their craft.
But that's just Lekka, mostly. There are no distractions from the taste of the coffee. The espresso has a clean, slightly heavy body that smooths and brightens throughout the drinking process. It's sweet in a way that could make those fearful of espresso actually want to try it. The absence or presence of milk doesn't change taste of the coffee. At the most, the milk acts as a slight chaser for the hint of bitterness you experience.
And, without the inclusion of a lot of flavors or ingredients, you're able to focus on the quality of Lekka's coffee. It's the perfect place for the coffee drinker that doesn't like taste alterations; the kind of person that fears drowning in a sea of experimental flavors can breathe easily here. There are no complicated drinks to choose from, nor menu items that make you wonder what it is you're getting.
You're getting coffee. Wholly good coffee. No questions about it.
“For our kind of place, we give the best product and people love it,” Kirschenbaum says. “Even if you do the smallest thing well — like, just your coffee — people will come just for that.”
All photos by Kathy Tran.