In Pictures: Cavo’s Coffee Is Terrific, But The Surprise Is The Elegant Breakfast Fare

Cavo Coffee is a new shop from Siphon Coffee co-owner Michael Caplan. It’s located in the new Regions Financial Center building at 3773 Richmond in the Greenway Plaza area. With an interesting program that sources coffee beans not only from local roaster Amaya but also from out-of-state companies like Stumptown and lesser known Heart Coffee Roasters (which Caplan regards as one of the best that few local shops offer), it seems obvious that Cavo would have great coffee as its stock-in-trade.

Like Siphon (which Caplan is a partner in along with Edward Treistman), Cavo makes great use of the towering brewers that make coffee by way of heat-induced vacuum pressure. (Admittedly, the devices look like a waylaid delivery bound for a chemistry classroom.)

siphon coffee maker at Cavo
A barista at Cavo prepares coffee with a siphon brewer that uses heat from a halogen beam to drive hot water up into the grounds. Photo by Phaedra Cook

The siphon coffee makers used at Cavo use a halogen beam to heat water and create a vacuum that drives the liquid into the coffee grounds. As it cools, freshly brewed coffee drops back down into the bottom vessel, ready to serve. “I knew about siphons, but when I found this halogen machine, I was like, “Wow, this thing is great. I told [my wife] Diane, we’re either going to have the coolest machine at our house or I’m going to be in the coffee business,” said Caplan.

Caplan is a former nightclub owner who has lived in the Greenway Plaza area for years. It was a waiting game for the right space and opportunity to open up. “The challenge is there’s not a lot of locations. The rent is generally a little higher. When this building was being built, [the developer] reached out to me because they wanted a coffee shop. It’s an amenity for their tenants,” explained Caplan.

Michael Caplan
Cavo Coffee owner Michael Caplan pours a fresh brew from the serving part of a siphon coffee maker. Photo by Phaedra Cook

He also said that since Cavo is in a brand-new building, he wanted it to be a little more upscale and refined than the more laid-back Siphon Coffee. “I don’t want it to be pretentious at all,” Caplan was quick to clarify. “I want it to be a place where you can come work, come eat, meet people or have a beer or glass or wine in the afternoon.”

What that means is that although the great coffee was simply expected, the remarkable food program was not. In this way, Cavo joins the trend of excellent brews served in conjunction with a full-fledged food program along with predecessors such as Morningstar, Woodbar, Weights + Measures and Hanan’s Café in Cypress.

Adrian de la Cerda at Cavo Coffee
Cavo Coffee chef Adrian de la Cerda. Photo by Phaedra Cook

“The food at most coffee shops usually isn’t enough,” said chef Adrian de la Cerda, whose past work includes Weights + Measures and the Ladybird food truck. “We have beer, but it’s more of a coffee shop. I guess it’s a ‘gastrocoffee shop,’” he said with a laugh.

Cavo’s two main hot food offerings fall roughly into two categories: “toast” and “sandwiches,” with bread sourced from Cake & Bacon. We were invited to try several and discovered these are overly simplistic terms for dishes that bring together great ingredients in exactly the right ways.

S.O.S. at Cavo Coffee
S.O.S. has never been so refined. Photo by Phaedra Cook

Related: the names of chef Adrian de la Cerda’s dishes are laughably lowbrow; perhaps a mechanism by which to under-promise and over-deliver on the quality. For example, the S.O.S (an American military acronym for “Shit On a Shingle” that often referred to creamed, chipped beef served over toast) turns out to be a cage-free, golden yolked egg and sausage gravy lightly infused with truffle oil served on a precisely crisscrossed stack of four neat planks of toasted sourdough. “We’re using organic, free-range eggs,” said de la Cerda. “We don’t mention that on the menu, but we’re just happy to use quality ingredients.

Toad In The Hole at Cavo Coffee
“Toad in the Hole” at Cavo Coffee, with crusts neatly removed to emphasize tenderness. Photo by Phaedra Cook

Similarly, that old saw “Toad in the Hole” turns out to be a 64-degree egg with an unctuous yolk that, when pierced, slides down the side of a slab of challah bread like thick custard. The crusts are removed from the bread to ensure the entire dish is tender.

Avo Cavo at Cavo Coffee
Avocado toast gets a much-needed punch in the arm with gochujang in the Avo Cavo. Photo by Phaedra Cook

A more modern old saw, avocado toast, gets a much-needed upgrade in the Avo Cavo. Here, a slice of sourdough sports a worthy spread of the green stuff that’s joined by frilly fronds of frisee and its own 64-degree egg, punctuated with a mix of Korean gochujang sauce and honey.

Media Noche at Cavo Coffee
The Media Noche at Cavo Coffee is like a Cuban sandwich, but not pressed and served on challah. Photo by Phaedra Cook

Bigger appetites might aim for one of the lunch-worthy sandwiches, like the meaty Media Noche, piled high with a slab of sous vide pork belly, smoked turkey and prosciutto. Melty Swiss cheese helps bind the meat while housemade pickles and mustard lend balancing tanginess. “It’s a lot like a traditional Cuban sandwich, only not pressed,” said de la Cerda. “’Media noche’ means ‘late night snack.’ The turkey is so lean that the pork belly works with it to create a balanced chew, and the prosciutto is there. Cuban sandwiches have two different kinds of pork—usually roasted as well as ham—with mustard and pickles.”

Jam Session at Cavo
The Jam Session is one of Cavo’s simpler dishes, but the cool ricotta and fruity seasonal jam is very satisfying. Photo by Phaedra Cook

Those who like breakfast on the sweeter side or who just want a treat alongside coffee should check out the Jam Session with a spread of cool, creamy ricotta topped with whole-fruit preserves. Or, go all the way with the Nutella and seasonal fruit. The day we visited, it was a trio of fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Cavo’s food offerings demonstrate what an utter delight very good bread can be when paired with equally excellent ingredients. It’s great for stopping in for a quick beverage, whether it be a cuppa in the morning or one of their many craft beer selections in the afternoon (there’s a great selection from Stone and Founder’s). To get the most out of Cavo, though, we recommend visitors come hungry—very hungry—and be willing to settle in and enjoy the place for a while. By the way: there’s free parking for retail visitors in the garage around back. Cavo Coffee’s hours are Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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