Sprudge.com co-founder and writer Jordan Michelman is embedded with the La Marzocco Road Show crew as they tour the great state of Texas. Follow along as they tour Houston, Austin, Dallas, and all points in between all week long.

Live from a moving vehicle, speeding down I-35 E towards Austin…

Last night was the second in a series of three La Marzocco Texas Road Shows. The event itself went down at The Union Bear, a two-story craft beer and food emporium in the West Village shopping district of Dallas. Union Bear is part of a restaurant group that includes Oddfellows, a breakfast spot serving Cuvee Coffee and featuring the first Strada MP in all of Texas. Visit Oddfellows when you’re in Dallas, enjoy their unique walk-up outdoor counter tops, try some espresso and get a Chemex

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Union Bear gave over much of their lower floor to a crowd that topped out at around 30 people, with attendees from as far away as Austin (Houndstooth Coffee) and Tulsa (Topeca Coffee). On the main floor Cuvee brewed their San Jose Ocana (a washed red bourbon from Guatemala) using a Clever dripper and a Marco Ecoboiler; downstairs, they set up their sleek, shiny blue and white Strada EP 2 group, serving Cuvee’s Reserva, a blend of three processes (washed, honey, and natural) from the Ilamatapec region of El Salvador. This is the same coffee Lorenzo Perkins used to win this year’s South Central Regional Barista competition, which is convenient, because Mr. Perkins was on hand for the event in Dallas, pulling shots using his own custom Strada EP parameters.

Highlights from the party in Dallas included: Kent Bakke himself pulling shots on a GS3; listening in on multiple (very serious) ongoing beer conversations (the coffee nerd to beer geek ratio in Texas is literally 1:1); and drinking multiple and consistently delightful shots from Mr. Perkins.

On the way out of town the LM crew had a chance to visit Cultivar Coffee, a specialty coffee shop in north Dallas that shares space space with a progressive, high-end taco shop – think caramelized broccoli and onion with grains and red pepper, or waffle battered chicken with sweet potato and honey butter. While there, we had a super tasty shot of their house espresso, a Latin American washed blend comprised of 60/40 Costa Rica / Guatemala Typica & Bourbon, clean and sweet with dark cocoa in the last sip. Visit Cultivar when you’re in Dallas; sit at the worn wood front bar to reduce the size of the space, and chat with the friendly crew.

The coffee scene in Dallas is small, but there’s tons of room for upside. In some ways the city is hamstrung geographically; Austin is an obvious pull for talent and ambition, being only around 3 hours south (slightly more if you stop at Czech Stop), and boasting all manner of cred and attractive young types, etc. More than that, Dallas truly is (and has always been) a city that looks to places like New York and Chicago for architectural and cultural inspiration, and this can’t help but impact the growth of food, cocktails, and of course coffee. But the back end of that is comparatively cheap rents and lots of opportunity. Cuvee is leading the way there, and Cultivar is doing an awesome job on the home grown side. There’s a version of the future where in-the-know Austin types are driving north for a change, to check out a high-flying concept restaurant, or an art show in a garage off Bishop; but people from elsewhere in Texas, and elsewhere in America, owe it to themselves to spend some time in Dallas when they can. Check out that gorgeous “Blade Runner” skyline (the patio at the Belmont Hotel offers an ideal vantage point), hang out in the Bishop Arts District, drink some great beer at Union Bear, and divest yourself of the “who shot JR” stereotypes as quick as you possibly can. Dallas is a cool place that’s only getting cooler.

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