Australians have the lowdown on good coffee

By David Mullen

Fresh up from the land down under, together these men at work have come to Dallas hoping to provide a product experience that is over the top.

Mark Lowes and younger brother Adam have opened LDU Coffee, a corner retail space in a never-been-lived- in space at 2650 Fitzhugh Ave. about four blocks east of Central Expressway. These Australian natives learned the coffee business with shops in Perth and Melbourne, and decided to grind it out in America.

“I don’t think Americans have ever gotten excited about the coffee itself,” Mark said. Among U.S. coffee shops, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts control more than 60 percent of the marketplace. “It’s more about convenience or where I can sit all day and get free WiFi.”

Mark moved to Dallas from Perth a year ago. “I’ve been making coffee for 10 years now,” Mark said. “I was looking to get involved with food and beverage when I was a bit younger. I ended up living above a historic little café in Melbourne. The guys took me on.”

“My inspiration for selling coffee came from experiences I had,” Adam said, “particularly in Melbourne and NYC around 10-15 years ago when the coffee scene was exploding. I fell in love with small coffee spaces that had a good vibe and delicious coffee. I wanted to try and recreate that experience for people in our own way.”

“We made coffee for a lot of Texas customers back home,” Mark said. “We were right around the Chevron headquarters. So we served dozens of Texans every morning. And we really enjoyed serving them. The general persona of a Texan is that they are a lovely customer to have come in. But we had a couple of friends and some family right here in Dallas, and through our links we decided that it might be time for a new adventure.”

In addition to the various coffee options, LDU Coffee sells a small selection of sandwiches and snacks. Although LDU doesn’t have a particular meaning, many customers speculate on what the initials might stand for. “Our surname is Lowes, we are in Dallas and our stores back home are called Lowdown, like the old Boz Scaggs song. We like the idea of being a little mysterious and slightly alien arriving and not trying to do what everyone else is doing. We don’t want to have a name that brings up the psychological framework to people.”      

Music plays an important role in the ambiance of the glass-dominated, 1,200-square-foot café. “It is one of the smaller sites we found,” Mark said. “We would have liked it to be even smaller again.” Influenced by their mother, a radio producer, Adam spends time creating a playlist of songs that percolates throughout the day without interruption or repeated songs and with a special focus on blues. “We kind of feel that this is sort of the rock and roll edge of Uptown,” Mark said. “Sort of the grungy part of Uptown. It says that in our feel and our music.” LDU Coffee has the sense of a place one might find on the Eastside of Austin. “We saw more people walking around here that at the other sites we looked at in Dallas,” Mark said.   

They open at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on Sundays), but close at 4 p.m. seven days a week. No drive-thru and no WiFi on weekends. “We want to build into a much more social café than a study place,” Mark said.

Mark, 40, has two small children who are currently in love with basketball and the Dallas Mavericks. Adam, 36, is recently married. “Working with my brother is fun and easy,” Adam said. “We balance out each other well, we know how to play to each other’s strengths and share the same sense of humour [Australian spelling] and taste in music. Can’t beat it.”

So, from the land of the joey come two men dedicated to provide the highest quality cup of joe in Dallas and heightening the love of the liquid. ”We are not into world domination,” Mark said. “We just think that there is room in Dallas for a good store. We are just trying to find our way with this.”   

Photo by David Mullen