One of Houston's best coffee shops has added major talent to both its coffee and food offerings. Blacksmith announced it has added veteran barista and bartender Avery Davis as beverage director, while rising star Christina Au has joined as executive pastry chef.
Davis, who's been working at Blacksmith since it opened in 2013, returns to the coffee shop full time after earning a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards bartender of the year nomination for his work at March, Goodnight Hospitality's elegant tasting menu restaurant. In addition to overseeing the shop's training program, Davis has introduced original coffee and tea-based zero proof cocktails that will change twice a year, plus a seasonal cocktail or two.
"I still love Goodnight Hospitality and am even going to March for my birthday," Davis writes in an email. Still, he felt drawn to an opportunity to return to Blacksmith in a leadership capacity. "Coffee is my first service love and the idea of doing something totally new with it is such an adventure. Creatively, it has really pushed me in a way that I am pretty much addicted to."
Davis's original cocktails include a riff on an Old Fashioned made with cold brew coffee, the PB&J (self explanatory), and the Hollywood Pre-Shift, a highball-style drink made with yerba mate, citrus, and soda. The current seasonal cocktail is a pumpkin spice cortado.
The barista adds that his time in fine dining has also influenced his approach to customer service.
"Cafes tend to lean pretty hands-off, as far as service goes, but having a more involved and thoughtful drink menu pushes our service to being somewhere between baristas, bartenders, and servers," he writes. "We’re not completely reinventing our style of service, but simply adding elements that will make for a fun guest experience."
As for Au, the pastry chef earned a Tastemaker Awards nomination in the best pop-up/start-up category for her creative pop tarts, cakes, and other treats. The chef, whose resume include The Pass & Provisions, Common Bond, and Four Seasons hotel properties in California, has already earned raves for her salted caramel-based millionaire tart, brown butter banana cake, and coconut financier.
Adding both Davis and Au also brings the potential for coffee-pastry collaborations. As a start, the pumpkin spice cortado gets paired with one of Au's shortbread cookies.