Two Christmases ago my brother and I bought my mom a Keurig. She loved it—she could make coffee and all other manner of hot drinks quickly and conveniently. Which is awesome, if those are the sort of things you’re into, along with eating frozen dinners and Lunchables. Recently she was making some coffee for herself and asked if I wanted any. I respectfully declined. She paused, confused. “But, don’t you like coffee?” she asked, seemingly not noticing that A) it was before 10AM, so I wasn’t even speaking real words yet; and B) calling whatever comes out of a Keurig ‘coffee’ is a stretch. Had I been fully awake, I would’ve said something dramatic, like “I’m too good for Keurig coffee” or “Meryl Streep doesn’t drink coffee from a Keurig so NEITHER DO I MOM, DUH.” But at the time, I probably just nodded and schlepped back off to my bed.
I think my dear old mom is forgetting what most people skipped over in history class: coffee is a big deal. At some point or other, coffee was banned by the clergy, was used as a medicine and has been a major resource and source of profit for over 100 years. Coffee is no game. Anyone who’s tasted that rich, earthy nectar knows that quality coffee can be life changing. Likewise, terrible coffee is a waste of time and hot water. Have you ever tasted Folger’s coffee and asked yourself, “Why does my soul feel like its weeping?” If so, you’re probably missing out on adult life’s greatest perk. I can remember being a little tot, watching wide-eyed as my parents groggily chugged down some mysterious liquid—and 30 minutes later they were completely different people. I thought back then that coffee was magic. Over a decade later, I’m still pretty convinced that it is.
All this aside, I’m actually ashamed to say that I was way behind the curve as far as finding a good coffee shop in Fort Worth. I was in Central Market’s coffee aisle a few weeks ago and I noticed some bags labeled ‘Avoca Coffee’ sitting in a corner. Originally I bought it because I was tired of being in the store and I wanted dark roast that I didn’t have to grind up myself. I picked up a package that said ‘Misty Valley’ and went home, basically forgetting the whole interaction. Next week I brought it to work (I’m *that girl* in the office who refuses to use the coffee/coffeemaker provided and brings a French Press to work every morning. Judge me.) and I made myself a cup. IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, Y’ALL. Minus the Christmas. Basically my reaction went like this:
It tasted like love. It tasted like freedom, like ‘merica. It tasted like calm days on your couch with Luther Vandross and a good book, all at the same time. A dark roast with hints of blackberry and honey, this Misty Valley was taking me places. Coffee should be multi-faceted and intricate. In fact, part of the true luxury of drinking a quality cup of joe is experiencing all the flavors unfolding in your mouth. A lot of people compare coffee to wine in its flavor complexity, being that the flavor starts with the seeds (some people call them beans) and changes with every step until it hits your taste buds. MistyValley was definitely giving me life flavor-wise, which is nigh on impossible at 8AM on a Monday.
On my lunch break I went back to Central Market and looked around the coffee aisle but there was some impostor coffee in its place (rude). I googled it, thinking that I’d be forced to order Avoca Coffee online from Seattle or Taiwan or somewhere else difficult. Turns out Avoca is a Fort Worth-based coffee house on Magnolia (commonly referred to as Southside, or “historic Southside” if you’re feeling fancy). It’s run by two childhood friends, Jimmy Story and Gerold LaRue, who’ve committed themselves to what their website calls “seed to cup philosophy”. They roast their coffee beans in-house, focusing on quality taste, pioneering flavor combinations and—most importantly—sustainable resources and direct trade. In layman’s terms: Acova is a hipster-generation, post-graduate, ultra-hyphenated dream come true.
I figured that I needed to see this place up close and personal, so I grabbed a pal and stopped by Avoca after work. It’s in a perfect location for all your social needs: there are tons of local bars and indie restaurants within walking distance. Outside the door there are two picnic tables for casual sippin’ on nice afternoons, and you can do some serious people judging watching all along Magnolia Avenue. When I walked in, I spent about six minutes staring at all the posters tacked up in the entry way.
Avoca also serves as a community message board of sorts, offering ad-space for concerts, poetry readings, full moon yoga drum circles (no, seriously) and various other events in Fort Worth and the surrounding area. It was actually a lot more spacious on the inside than I expected; tables and leather couches were scattered across a large open area with plenty of sunlight coming from two huge windows. Behind the counter I found two cheerful guys with cool hair and better shoe taste than most of my friends, so I immediately felt like I had made a good decision in stopping by.
I asked the person at the register what they recommended—we settled on an iced mocha. Normally I’m a bona fide “black coffee purist” type of consumer, but this iced mocha is a serious caffeinated delicacy: Avoca’s signature espresso, milk and dark chocolate from Dude, Sweet Chocolate all tumble-jumbled into a glass and served with a smile. According to the chap behind the counter, it’s the most detailed drink they have on the menu to make, but the process is fun—thus making it a treat BOTH for the barista and for the lucky girl who gets to drink it. Imagine the feeling you’d get if Beyonce breathed on you or shook your hand. Tasting this drink gets you awfully close. Plus, the person who made my drink sang The Police’s Every Breath You Take to me while we worked, making my day in the process. Maybe it was the Puff Daddy/Faith Evans version? It was, to say the least, an extremely pleasant experience.
After I got my coffee I wandered around the shop for a bit. Near the bathrooms there are glass windows that allow you to see where all the magic happens (I imagine some sort of Harry Potter-esque sort of operation, but I couldn’t be sure). Avoca roasts all of their coffee beans within feet of where you drink it, and offers tastings and workshops for people who want a behind-the-scenes look at how coffee is made. A lot of their products are available wholesale, along with other items like t-shirts and coffee mugs. I’ve also noticed that several shops and stores around town boast Avoca as of their suppliers. They’ve partnered a few times with the Rahr Brewery around the corner, and it’s always brilliant—their latest beer, “Iron Joe” debuted in February. Basically, Avoca’s label is becoming a ticket to quality flavor and locally-based innovation, and I’m totally game to ride along and catch the tasties.
If you need a quiet place to study, a place to advertise your yoga class, or a place to have the perfect espresso, Avoca’s got you covered. More so, if you care about where your coffee is from and want to support a growing staple in the Fort Worth community, add their iced mocha to your regular cheat day (or every day, lezbehonest) and watch for their products around town. Don’t be a Folger’s Folly forever, y’all. Holla.