Story and photos by Christen Dennis Denton Live Fall-Winter 2015
It fits like your favorite pair of shoes. Like you’re walking into your own cozy den. Except hipper. And with your own wait staff and filled with friends you don’t necessarily know. It’s West Oak Coffee Bar, with its friendly staff, tasty menu and an exceptional cup of coffee every time.
West Oak Coffee Bar on the square fits right in with the classic culture of Denton. They are committed to doing coffee their way, right every time – with consistency, care and the Intelligentsia blend from master coffee roasters out in Chicago.
“Consistently cupping at just the highest levels – I mean everything they sell is phenomenal,” says Joel Upton, general manager of West Oak Coffee and an avid coffee explorer. Upton joined the West Oak team as general manager this past January with master coffee roasters Matt Fisher and Clay Rozell, the latter being the owner of the local Bookish Coffee just down the street on the Denton Square.
“I think it’s the craft of coffee,” says Joel. “I like to know how things are made, and that translates here. It’s a very technical process, but it’s also an art form. It takes time, and everybody has their own kind of signature.” He remarks on his first true experience trying a cup of simple black coffee at a very specific coffee shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I was just blown away. And that kind of began my coffee adventure.”
Near the entrance, the modest menu is written in an elegant pen and hangs off a vintage black board, with the day’s desserts displayed on the counter beneath. The hardwood floors lead to rows of chairs and desks suitable for everything from a late-night study session to Saturday’s date night destination. Animated chatter banters among patrons as friends catch up over West Oak’s homemade vanilla lattes. Mason jars of vanilla beans are perched on a shelf above coffee grinders and busy baristas, exuding a sweet aroma. Every piece of furniture is recycled and refurbished to its former glory, giving West Oak a vintage and antique vibe. There’s nothing automatic, except for the exceptional chocolate milk – yes, it’s on tap. Everything is handmade and handcrafted, exactly as it should be.
Koree Poe, a 23-year-old veteran barista of seven years, joined West Oak Coffee Bar this past summer and has enjoyed every minute.
“I actually moved to Denton for this job,” says Koree. “Really, the best thing about West Oak is the people I work with. The owners are fantastic. West Oak is a concept that I can really get behind and be proud of. And that’s hard to find in a food service job, to just be genuinely excited and proud about what you are doing every day.” Koree plans on continuing his barista career with West Oak, eventually roasting coffee himself. “I plan on sticking around for a long time,” he says. “It’s a really good place to get your foot in the door, because it’s erupting so fast. I’ll be with this company for a while, just because of the great people I work for.”
Upon entering the foyer to West Oak’s front doors, customers are treated to a warm and homey welcome, a vibe that sets West Oak Coffee Bar apart. This thriving company quickly nestled itself within the coffee bar niche of Denton and is the choice option for late-night owls or early-morning risers.