Denton Java Jams: Aura Coffee

As far as coffee shops go in Denton, Aura Coffee is a definite fan-favorite among students, professors, and plant lovers alike. Nestled in the shade of UNT’s north campus and flanked by the myriad of lunch spots on Fry Street, the cafe is great place to congregate after a long day, or during a lull in between classes.

No matter what time of day, the space is filled with creatives, who pack themselves like sardines in the many mismatched tables, in the hopes of gleaning something productive from the WiFi and delicious coffee. Aura, formerly known as Big Mike’s, also has a never-ending supply of cheery and helpful workers, who always deliver with eclectic picks in music. The Dentonite asked a few of the employees for their favorite types of music to play throughout their shift, and the reasoning behind those choices. 

Charlie: "It's mostly music that I feel good about, but also stuff that won't make people leave. When I first started working here, I played a lot of Afrobeat; I was on an Ethiopian jazz kick. Lately, though, I've been on a kick of listening to new bands, so at work I'll try to put on a band that I'm not too familiar with. When I can, I try to play local stuff - I've played Pearl Earl, Danny Diamonds, The Night Above Us."

Charlie's picks: Halsey, Gregory Alan Isakov, Skywindow, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke

Kurt: "I'll bop to some Devo when the shop's busy, because it's an album I know really well, and it has a tempo that I work really well to. When the weather is cold, I get excited because we get to listen to Nick Drake - listening to Nick Drake in summer is a sin, but once it dips below 70 degrees, it's Nick Drake season." 

Kurt's picks: new wave bands (see: Pretenders), yacht rock, The HeliGoats, Girlpool, Busman Holliday

Chris: "I like to put on the Damien Jurado album Visions mid-morningish to compliment the pick-up in business and the sunlight; I find that the albums want to bounce between grand and somber/reflective; a nice balance for the pace of Fry street as the school comes "alive". Milo's album, Who Told You to Think, along with the Brockhampton albums are just fantastic reflections on what it means to be a young person in America. Thoroughly politically critical, and self-critical. Speaking/lashing out from a place of hopelessness; but not resignation. Inner Journey Out by Psychic Ills is an early morning "rise and shine" kind of album. Mildly psychedelic enough to not feel too harsh in the wee-hours, and familiar enough in tone to almost lull one back to sleep."

Chris' picks: Horse, Ivan Ave, Kendrick Lamar, Prom Queen, Brockhampton

Picking the daily soundtrack seems like a daily ritual for Aura and its employees, every bit as important as keeping the coffee hot and the pastries well-stocked. If you venture to Aura after reading this article, in search of good company, music, and a killer cortado, try out the Ziggy Stardust; at $4.75, it's a pricey iced coffee, but the smooth blend of espresso and almond roca is well worth the price tag.

Header image design courtesy of Mallory Frenza
Special thanks to the employees of Aura Coffee for their rad musical recommendations and hospitality.