Home, Work, West Oak
Sitting down over a cup of coffee with some of Denton’s West Oak Coffee Shop’s finest, owner Matt Fisher, manager Joshua Piers and head of marketing Shelby Watson, filled The Dentonite in on all things West Oak. After a little over three years of establishing who they are, Matt Fisher says he's ready to tell the West Oak story.
Founded on December 3, 2014 West Oak sought to be inclusive and a place of community, not only in words as their store motto, but also in action as they made a way for all to feel safe and have a sense of belonging. “There’s work, there’s home and then there’s a third place to feel you belong. We wanted that to be West Oak, and for a lot of the community it really has been”, Matt said. “There’s really something unique about the diverse gathering that coffee shops offer. Students, moms, business men, pastors, they all get together in one place to do life together and that’s not something that happens anywhere else in society.”
West Oak is not only thriving in local community, but international as well. They pride themselves on their in house roasted coffee beans and how they’re changing lives as they buy their green coffee from farmers, instead of corporations. West Oak goes above and beyond, even to the point of visiting several of the countries in which they buy their beans from to make sure all is running smoothly, and paying extra for their beans to make sure the farmers are being paid as they deserve. 80-90% of their beans come from El Salvador and Guatemala while the remaining is bought from Columbia, Costa Rica, Thailand, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Matt Fisher expressed with excitement that one of the farms in Columbia in which they purchase beans from only employees single moms as pickers for the coffee beans and pays them 3x more than the average Columbian wage. While West Oak pays more for their beans to give others a better life the coffee remains pretty consistently the same price as other shops in the Denton area, if not cheaper.
Intentionality is something West Oak seeks to maintain throughout 2018, whether that is through international relationships and bettering of lives or through customer relationships in the store.
West Oak has recently expanded its reach, with sister coffee shop Kimzey’s in Argyle and Trinity Street Coffee Bar in Decatur. Each has a unique atmosphere, and each thrives on the same principles as West Oak, intentional community, and making each person feel that the shop can be their safe place. When you walk into any of these shops, you truly feel the warmth, community and acceptance, something everyone longs for.
On top of the genuine heart West Oak front runners possesses, they know their coffee, and they know it well. They took me behind the scenes to their roaster which lies just below the shop. The process of roasting green coffee surprisingly only takes 9-13 minutes unless they’re making their withered coffee which is aged in a wooden barrel for 7-10 days, completely changing the taste without adding any flavors. West Oak has an abundance of talent at their hands, and the hands of their sister company. Two skilled employees are competing in esteemed roasting and brewing competitions in April, on both a national and international level. One of the two, Kasey Headley of Trinity Street Coffee Bar applied with a coffee cocktail and competed in Coffee Masters New York 2017. Headley was one of 24 people (only one of two Americans) to move on to the London competition, where he will practice six coffee principals and go through a series of seven coffee competitions. West Oak roaster Nick will compete in the Seattle Coffee Brewing National Competition.
The roasters and baristas are in full swing with their new spring menu approaching release early March. Several of the drinks I was informed about included Cascara Lemonade, which uses the fruit on the outside of the coffee bean, a fruity tea like substance, abstaining from any taste of coffee, mixed with a house made lemonade. There will also be a Springtonic with basil and rosemary which combines espresso shots with tonic water. Coconut and Lavender house made syrups will be offered for the spring as well, as many customers have requested. As far as food goes, there are many new recipes that are being perfected, including a Biscone, a mix of a biscuit and scone in one, and Cold Brew Cream Pie, Blueberry Lemon Bread, and Vegan Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies, all of which I had the pleasure of trying and were a delight to the taste buds.
West Oak is thriving, and Dentonites deserve the same. Head on over and try all they have to offer, as their master baristas and pastry chefs concoct delicious new taste bud pleasing masterpieces daily.
Photos by Alexa Thrash
Header image by Christopher Rodgers