Austin brands trying to find footing in Dallas often struggle—and ultimately shutter—because they have trouble navigating the city’s love-hate relationship with anything coming out of the state capital. People in Dallas love Austin and Austin things but also presume everything coming from there is trying to be too cool for school, something that Houndstooth Coffee learned almost immediately after opening its first outpost in the city, when a local magazine sandwiched a story dubbing it the “Best Coffee Shop” between two articles smearing it for being both too serious and too nice. We locals are complicated, petty, maybe a little jealous, but if you want to serve us coffee at our best, you have to deal with us at our worst.
With the opening of Houndstooth’s third location in Dallas, it is safe to say that the brand has successfully weathered our fickle tumultuousness and, in doing so, has acted as a sort of sherpa for other Austin companies looking to make the move 200 miles north. Houndstooth’s second Dallas shop sits adjacent to Taco Deli, its next-door neighbor at the original Austin cafe (which will also be a stone’s throw from the newest spot). And for the third location, Houndstooth teamed up with TreeHouse—an Austin-based home improvement store that focuses on sustainable, environmentally friendly homewares—to create Dallas’s first 100 percent solar-powered coffee shop.
Opened in Northeast Dallas last November, the new shop is Houndstooth’s first location to exist in a stand-alone building. But not just any stand-alone building, or even a single building at that. The new cafe is basically two separate tiny houses joined in the middle by a wooden backdrop with a giant lighted “COFFEE” sign. Each of the roughly 500-square-foot houses serves a distinct purpose; one acts as a standard bustling cafe, including seating for eight to ten people stopping in for a quick drink, and the other is a much quieter area with more open seating for those looking to stay a while or have an uninterrupted conversation with a friend.
More than just offering quaint partitioning, the tiny houses fall in line with the other environmentally responsible decisions that went into the design of the new Houndstooth. From the old-growth bamboo floors and fireclay tiles to the Tesla solar-powered station providing electricity for the entire building and shopping complex–wide composting program soon to be rolled out, everything in the cafe is designed to be energy efficient, eco-friendly, and sustainable.
Houndstooth owner Sean Henry explains that the opportunity to team up with TreeHouse on the new shop serves as an eco-friendly jumping off point for the rest of his cafes: “When we looked at growth and how we wanted to make our cafes more in line with our personal thoughts on sustainability, this opportunity was a great fit. Over the next year, we’re implementing several measures across all cafes to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Inside the cafe side, the look and feel is different from other Houndstooth locations. Being in a stand-alone building allows big windows lining three walls of the cafe to pump in tons of natural light at almost any time of day, adding to the warmth of an already inviting space thanks to a variety of woods, textures, and rich, colored tiles behind the coffee bar. It’s a bit of a departure from the clean whites more common in other Houndstooth locations; that aesthetic is reserved for the interior of the other tiny house.
For this location, Houndstooth also departed from its standard espresso machine setup: Dallas shops use Nuova Simonelli Black Eagles and Austin shops use Kees Van Der Westen (or Van Der Westen–designed La Marzocco) machines. For this shop, Henry opted to go with the Mavam—the newest contender for the under-counter espresso crown—making Houndstooth the first shop in Texas to do so. Paired with the three espresso modules are three Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro grinders, the standard espresso grinder at all the company’s locations.
“We love to break down the barriers between guest and barista,” Henry says. “Obviously, removing the espresso machine can open up the conversation even more, which is a good thing for our baristas. It is certainly a professional’s machine—everything is highly visible. We’ve focused even more on training our baristas to be conscious of every move. It has really helped us be specific.”
Coffee shops and roasters are starting to focus on increasing sustainability efforts, implementing changes big and small to reduce their carbon footprint. The new Houndstooth represents a top-down approach, where everything is seen through an environmental lens from the very beginning. And once again, Houndstooth finds itself playing the canary in the coal mine, testing the viability of an eco-forward cafe in a not-always-eco-friendly city. Smart money is on Houndstooth succeeding because for one, it’s hot here; we’ve got the resources for solar power in spades, so why not use it? But more importantly, Henry and Houndstooth are good at what they do, which they’ve proven time and again. A good cup of coffee may just make Dallas folks eco-acolytes yet.