Community Spotlight · Houndstooth Coffee, Austin, TX
Phillip White-Jackson is around coffee every day, as a full-time barista at Houndstooth Coffee in Dallas. But the beverage has always played an important role in Phillip’s life—even before he was old enough to drink it. “My mom always brought coffee home whenever she would travel,” he says. “If the bag was nice enough she would keep it and frame it. It’s one of those things that I grew up with.”
During a family vacation to Jamaica, Phillip had his first-life changing cup of coffee. “it was the first time I was offered a cup by the older members of my family, and it was a cup of local Blue Mountain coffee that tasted like nothing I had ever tasted before,” Phillip says. “I was intrigued by coffee culture from that moment. It was such a fun culinary art to learn about, learning the different ways it’s made all over world, the variations in types of coffee, and the power of coffee throughout history.”
Phillip began hanging out in coffee shops by himself around 2012, while he was working as a licensed auto claims adjuster for one of the country’s leading auto insurance companies. “I slowly became more and more curious about the inner workings of coffee shops and how they made coffee differently from how I made it at home,” he says. “Coffee shops have always historically been a sort of social equalizer—spaces where anybody can connect with anybody through one common thing, coffee. It’s the thing I like the most about coffee and coffee culture.”
Coffee shops and the people who work at them have endured uncertain, challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Houndstooth in Dallas is no different. Phillip says the café was closed for about three months before reopening with a new setup using half of the shop’s space, bifurcating it with some of its larger tables. A plexiglass wall separates the baristas from the customers, with a small cutout for drinks. “I personally feel very safe behind the ‘wall,’” Phillip says. “It does require a bit more effort to provide good customer service, but it’s worth it to keep staff and baristas safe. Currently we have seating on our side patio and front patio, but no plans to open the indoor for seating.”
In the summer of 2020, Phillip entered the #BaristaSeriesChallenge contest, conducted by Pacific Barista Series and Barista Magazine, celebrating the coffee community. He says he decided to enter in part to show off some of his new acquisitions. “I repaired some cameras at home during lockdown and quarantine, and was newly into shooting with these cameras,” he says. “A co-worker and I had just finished taking some pics of me making coffee with my newly colored yellow hair and I got the IG message on the same day by chance. So I went home, edited the image and submitted it.”
To his surprise, Phillip was picked as one of the winners of the contest, which earned him $500 for himself and $500 for the charity of his choice. He decided to donate the latter money to Brandon Saenz, who was wounded during a peaceful protest in summer 2020.
We thank Phillip for sharing his passion for coffee, photography, and more with us via the Barista Series Challenge, and wish him the best of luck in his coffee career!