While the pastries and strong espresso give Plum Coffee the feeling of a European cafe, the vintage décor takes guests back to the 1950s. Billie Holiday, the Rat Pack and Louis Armstrong fill the dining room with a classy ambiance along with classic movie posters, a record player and an old typewriter that may or may not have been used by some of the great American novelists of an era past.
“My dad was born in 1935 and was raised in a big city in Mexico,” Jamal said. “He grew up watching Rebel Without a Cause, Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra. That's who he wanted to be. This is who I grew up watching, too. [My dad] was the inspiration for the cafe's design.”
Jamal brews Katz coffee and offers patrons Italian-style gelato ($2.99 small, $3.49 medium, $4.19 large) along with fresh pastries from local vendors. Other classics include espresso-based lattes ranging from intensely strong to savory sweet. Plum Coffee opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and stays open until 8 p.m. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed Sundays.
After reviewing the array of choices on the menu, I asked about something called a London fog. Jamal informed me that it was one of her favorites and consisted of Early Grey tea steeped as a latte in whole milk mixed with a hint of vanilla. Since it was too early for gelato, I decided to try it. The specialty drink provided a comforting change from the normal double or triple shot of espresso certain mornings call for. Had I not selfishly drank the London fog in minutes, I would have sat down to enjoy it, perhaps near the antique record player or rotary phone.
“Going to The Heights and those cool areas of town is always a good experience, but with kids it can be awkward,” Jamal said. “Since Tuscan Sun closed, which used to be our hang-out spot, [I] wanted to bring a piece of the inner loop to the outer loop. This is a family oriented place. In the future, we hope to do family activities like story time, poetry readings and classic movie nights.”
There are distinctive espresso-based drinks ($4.50 small, $5 medium, $5.50 large) that incorporate Ghirardelli chocolate such as the candy bar mocha latte. Other interesting drinks include a variety of Italian sodas ($2.75 small, $3.25 medium, $3.75 large) and the London fog ($3.60).
Jamal is always searching for interesting retro pieces to decorate her cafe and is speaking with several local bakeries to provide wholesale products such as kolaches, sandwiches and paninis.
“We want [customers] to slow down at least to enjoy a coffee,” she said. “It makes me happy when people come in who just get it. They want to come together and reminisce.”
11688 Barker Cypress, Ste. A2.