Novel Has Coffee Roasting Down To A Science.
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.
Novel Coffee Roasters.
13663 Jupiter Road.
Coffee exists on a plane somewhere between artistry and science. There's no better proof of this than the frequently updated culture of brewing techniques, the publications charged with disseminating this information and the hordes of coffee geeks ready to experiment with it all.
If they're passionate enough, the next logical step after home brewing for coffee aficionados is home roasting. But it's only once these people find some like-minded cohorts that full-fledged companies are born.
This was the case when brothers-in-law Ryan Smith and Kevin Betts started Novel Coffee Roasters.
“It started off as a coffee obsession for me,” Smith says. “I spent years tasting coffee before I was even willing to consider roasting coffee — and I think that's really important. If you think about someone that makes a decision to become passionate about cooking or becoming a chef, they probably spent 20 years of their life tasting food. I think it's really important for anyone that is considering roasting coffee — and kind of being responsible for the quality of it — to have a very specific point of view.”
For the past two years, Smith and Betts' East Dallas roasting space has served as somewhat of a lab, where the guys can experiment with ways to showcase their love of coffee with the city and at various locations throughout the country. But rather than a room filled with test tubes and beakers, the space is covered with bags of coffee beans from all over the world — stock that enables Smith, the company's green bean buyer, to taste and study different roasting styles. Meanwhile, a computer system built by Betts allows him to keep track of the rate of change with each roast based on the formulas learned in most high school algebra and calculus classes.
“What we do is we take these roast logs every week and we compare them to our cuppings,” Betts says. “We basically taste the coffees, and by isolating all of the variables in the graph in the data that we have, we are able to take the science of roasting, and put it up against the art, and see how those two interact.”
In a separate room, serious tasting measures take place, whether it be freshly pulled espresso, the cupping of new coffees, various styles of pour-overs or a nitrogenated cold brew. The cold drink, brewed almost to the specifications of a stout, is more beer-like than other drinks of its kind. Its heaviness is complimented by its mixture of floral and chocolate notes, where the brightness and acidity is immediately calmed with a smooth and balanced mouthfeel.
Novel keeps its bean selections to a minimum in order to showcase the best coffees offered from each crop. The small selection helps coffee drinkers to step out of their comfort zones without feeling overwhelmed, as it's the company's goal to provide high-quality choices over a large quantity of options.
While you can currently find their beans at various shops and restaurants throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, Novel also has plans to soon open a brick-and-mortar location in its East Dallas neighborhood — a space that will expand its focus on drip methods, along with a few espresso offerings.
Says Smith: “We started this company with the focus on wholesale. The reason for that is we wanted to be laser-focused on sourcing coffee and roasting coffee, and really specializing in that. That's what we did, going on three years. We've also been wanting the opportunity to just serve people directly, and to be able to have these conversations more directly about what coffees we're brewing, and why we roast and brew in certain ways.”