For several years, brothers Adam and Mark Lowes ran a busy coffee shop in Western Australia. They take coffee "damn seriously," they say, and they're now the new owners of a seriously good shop in Dallas called LDU Coffee.
We know what you're wondering. "LDU doesn't mean anything in particular," Adam says. "We were brainstorming, and everything here in the U.S. seems to have a nice strong three-letter abbreviation — like DFW, DTX or HTX. 'Where'd you study?' 'SMU.'"
Their first endeavor, Low Down, was an espresso bar they owned for seven years in Perth.
"The Australian market is way more competitive," Adam says. "If you had Lower Greenville in Australia, it would have 15 coffee shops side-by-side." Low Down was next to a Chevron building, so they had many Texan customers. One of them recommended giving Texas a try, and after visiting, the Lowes brothers decided it was time for an adventure in the Lone Star State.
Americans, traditionally, have been brewed-coffee drinkers, though stronger espresso drinks have become more popular in recent years. The Lowes brothers hope to capitalize on the coffee culture from back home in Australia, where "people get excited to drink coffee," Adam says.
Here's an example: American lattes are often tall and weak, they explain; an Australian take on an Italian latte, a flat white, is short and strong.
LDU Coffee doesn't have a loungey coffee-house atmosphere. Enormous windows fill the 1,200-square-foot space with lots of sunlight, and the seats are comfortable, but not too comfortable. That's on purpose.
"Australian coffee draws from the European side of Australia's heritage," Mark says. "So the coffee shops have a little more movement. It's just kind of a part of your day.
"Maybe it's a Starbucks thing, but around here there are coffee houses where people just go and sit day and night; it's a place to hang out, but they don't get as excited about the coffee. In Australia it's always about the coffee, man."
LDU does have free Wi-Fi. "We're trying to blend the two cultures as best we can and keep everybody happy," Adam says.
The brothers clearly have a passion for coffee, as well as the sandwiches they refer to as toasties. The combinations of flavors are well thought out — perhaps obsessed over. A hearty vegetarian option, the Pumpky Bareesta, is made with roasted butternut squash, feta and almonds. The warm banana bread is crispy and sweet enough to draw comparisons to crème brûlée. People have asked whether it is blow-torched, but it's pressed.
One more thing about this coffee shop that gives it a slight un-American flair: There's no drive-through.
But the coffee is strong — worth walking in for.
LDU Coffee is located at 2650 N. Fitzhugh Ave., Dallas.