Crooked Tree is fantastic. Thanks for the other suggestions; I have added them to my list of places to try sometime.
I used to roast my own coffee, but am far from being an expert at it. You can get similar-quality coffee for about half the price if you buy it green, and green coffee is far more shelf-stable than roasted. It was fun and interesting, but I quickly gained appreciation for the skill involved in getting the most out of the beans. One concern I have with a machine like that for DMS would be the batch size (which is fine for home use but would likely be too cumbersome in a shared space.) @Jray, it sounds like you might have some experience roasting coffee? Surely someone here has more than me, and could weigh in on this.
For anyone interested in roast levels from a roaster’s perspective, this page gives an interesting, illustrated rundown (from green to “imminent fire”), along with times, temps, and relation to first/second crack.
There are several good roasters in Dallas, and I have only tried a few of them—so maybe some of you have suggestions! I am a fan of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, and have been buying from them almost exclusively for the past few years after switching from another roaster who, though good, seemed to be less consistent week-to-week.
Nespresso and Starbucks
A couple of people have mentioned Nespresso. I once used a Nespresso machine for about a week and was not impressed. (As an aside, I used to live walking distance from Nespresso world headquarters.)
To paraphrase Siva Vaidhyanathan in his book Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction: Starbucks is as much an intellectual property company as a beverage company.
My view is that it has done an amazing job marketing fast-food coffee at specialty coffee prices using terminology that it invented—but it is not the best place to go for a quality cup of coffee. The good news for makers is that Starbucks sets a quality standard that is fairly easily surpassed.
Proposed espresso equipment
Again, I will pledge $100 towards a (good, not Nespresso) espresso machine and grinder—so I think that puts us up to $300 already. We can totally do something within $2k if we keep an eye out on Craigslist, but it would be easier to get something really good and appropriate for the space for closer to $2.5k all-in.
For the machine, I would aim for either an HX or dual-boiler home/office unit that is plumbable—I think a unit like that would be both efficient to use and resilient to misuse. I’ve never used an Expobar machine, but this looks promising (a plumbable, dual-boiler machine with a rotary pump, an E61 grouphead, and a PID temperature controller.
(Picture taken from espressoworks.ca)
I have also heard good things about Rocket machines, but a Rocket would be over the budget unless we could find a used one at a discount.
My making it is a combination of grinding, grinding, grinding and being lucky enough to finally get a shot.
—Busta Rhymes (out of context, probably)
For the grinder, I enthusiastically recommend a Baratza Vario. I use one at home, and it was absolutely worth the upgrade from my previous Nuova Simonelli Grinta (my only regret was not upgrading sooner; after the upgrade, I was getting much better coffee from the same beans, with less hassle and less waste). The Vario provides unusually good grind quality for the price, even distribution, consistent dosing, and it also has low ground retention, which is especially beneficial in home/office environments. Sometimes Baratza sells refurbished units at a moderate discount.
I try to do it. It can be satisfying.
Training and robustness
I think making great espresso at DMS would totally be doable. As for difficulty, it takes a long time to master coffee, but as long as we have a couple of members who can periodically tweak some of the underlying parameters, I think it would take maybe 15 minutes of training to get people to the point where they are making better espresso than what is sold at Starbucks, and maybe an hour of training if they want to get started with steamed milk.
And I think espresso equipment along the lines of what I suggested above (a dual-boiler, plumbed unit) would be far more resilient to misuse than some of the other equipment at DMS. Machines of this caliber tend to be solidly built and very serviceable.
There’s nothing wrong with Plan B.
—Dick Van Dyke
If for some reason the (good) espresso plan falls through, I propose the formation of a coffee council to discuss rounding out the existing pourover equipment that Stan kindly provided, creating a self-sustaining method of stocking high-quality, freshly roasted beans at DMS, and focusing on teaching and practicing techniques for making great pourover, French press, AeroPress, etc.