Words and Images by Will Milne
Shift Coffee opened up shop in their new/old digs last Friday. The place is a prime example of many of the recent changes that have taken place in Denton as far as gentrification goes. Shift first opened on Prairie St. at Locust in a rundown shopping center with a van with strangely religious wrap all over it last August. They were pretty much immediately heralded as the bringer of the goods when it came to coffee in Denton. It was a small shop, but those in the know would swear by the caffeinated beverages made by owner Angelo Fesperman and his merry band of baristas. A few months later, however, Jack Bell Properties announced that they would be razing the shopping center to make way for a brand new apartment complex designed for "modern living."
Shift was told there was room for them in the new space, but that it would be a while until that space was ready. That little while ended up being about half a year. Many businesses don't get two chances at an opening day, but Shift did. Fesperman claims that he was able to address many of the issues he faced as a first time business owner the second time around. He told We Denton Do It that he learned a bit more how to "let go," and allow his staff, friends and family to help out as much as possible. The new Shift is a family affair. Co-owner, Kelsey Heimerman's, family helped to make much of the furniture, and Heimerman, herself, has plenty of art on the walls and even designed the to-go cups.
There's lots about the new Shift that will remind you of the old location. Window frames have been saved and used as storage, there are plenty of familiar faces, and those delicious lavender lattes are still around. That said, the new space is different in the best of ways. It is much more open and airy with plenty of room to spread out to work or have a conversation (also, you won't get that sunshine glare at 3pm like you will at some other local coffee facilities), the bar is setup for casual conversations, and there are even a few outdoor tables complete with umbrellas.
Aside from the delicious caffeinated beverages, Shift is now carrying pastries made by chef Sheena Croft of Hannah's. We tried the cherry and almond scone and were blown away by its densely packed flavors. We'll be making another trip back soon to give the green chili and chocolate one a shot, too. Shift also uses and sells beans from Ft. Worth's Avoca.
That said, much has changed in Denton's Coffee War scene since Shift closed their doors a few months ago. Cultivar Coffee set up shop in Denton, Recycled carries all the beans and West Oak Coffee Bar is getting closer and closer to reality. Is Shift still relevant? Definitely. During the times we stopped by this weekend, we were impressed by the number of visitors. Only about 50% of which seemed to be returning customers from the previous store. This new location on what we've begrudgingly started to call "SoLo" (South Locust) is kind of hoping now between Shift and The Dime Store. Throw in the fact that Viet Bites and Ravelin are close by and you've got plenty of reasons to keeping walking south past Mulberry. With the tenants that live above Shift and other nearby new apartments, we expect to see many more people in this area soon and are excited to see what other retail establishments open up in the ground floor of The Adagio.
Scroll down for more images of coffee at Shift and make sure to stop by and get a drink at 501 S. Locust as soon as you can.