FiLTER(ed), Historic Downtown McKinney’s newest coffee bistro, has a simple motto with a serious purpose: “Helping the world wake up.”
The interior of this coffee craft house is a mix of clean modern lines punctuated with industrial features, and warmed by the handmade, blonde walnut table tops, brew bar and banquet table. But fiLTER(ed) is more than just a coffee shop. It is also a water and handmade Italian soda bar, a business meeting spot and … a music studio.
Desireé Hlavenka is the brains behind it all, though she is quick to give credit to her family and friends – the “bigger brains,” as she calls them – for a great deal of encouragement and guidance.
A Family Affair
While owned by Hlavenka, fiLTER(ed) is, at heart, a family affair. Hlavenka’s cousin is the architect that designed the layout of the craft house and collaborated with Hlavenka on the logo design. Her father built the tables, brew bar and banquet furniture, and her mother helped with the interior design. Meanwhile, her sister helps with the books, her brother-in-law is the sound manager and his brother is the general manager and creator of many of fiLTER(ed)’s signature food items.
Hlavenka herself is a beautifully dressed bundle of controlled chaos. There are a million ideas running through her head at any given moment, and fiLTER(ed) is the culmination of 20 years of dreaming and combining ideas, striving “to create a third home that is a bit more comfortable, where there is taste but also texture and history,” she says.
Hlavenka grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and stayed here for college, graduating from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s degree in music with a minor in business. She then spent many years in the corporate world and also taught voice lessons. Hlavenka found her passion for helping to develop people while working her way up the corporate ladder, teaching her employees how to be the best possible versions of themselves. But all the while, she was dreaming of starting her public music studio.
Hlavenka left the business world to raise her son, but was called back for a special project as a consultant. During that time, while conducting many business meetings in coffee houses, struggling to hear and communicate, Hlavenka decided she wanted to create something better.
A Place to Meet
She set out to establish a space that catered to the traditional coffee house guests and their casual interactions, but also provided an area better suited to conducting business and holding meetings without noise or interruption. In addition, she wanted to serve a wider variety of fresh food and drinks. Throw in her dream of a public music studio, and fiLTER(ed) was born.
The employees at fiLTER(ed) are called crafters, and that is exactly what they are. They take pride in the business and are encouraged to find their own signature, be it a special work of latte art or a unique message they write on customers’ coffee cups.
“We’re crafters, and we create,” Hlavenka says. “That is what it’s all about – creating an experience.”
This experience is not limited to fiLTER(ed)’s various hand-pressed coffee drinks, including its signature nitro-cold brewed Black and Blue coffee, which is carbonated and housed in a keg. The water bar also features specialty bottles, and customers can choose from a variety of sweet treats, baked goods and soups.
Music in the House
The bistro hosts Second Saturday Latte Art and Jazz Night and Third Tuesday Open Mic Night to encourage young singers to show off their skills.
There are plans to establish a Friday night jam session beginning in June, where Hlavenka wants to help guests “shake off the week.” These sessions would invite anyone to bring their instrument, voice or just come in for a listen.
FiLTER(ed) team members have found a new way to offer their talents to a wider audience, by teaching classes on creating latte art. Hlavenka says she wants her crafters to be able “to share the art of what they are doing and to help others hone their art.” Each crafter is offered the opportunity to be a member of the Specialized Coffee Association of America, a chance to increase their knowledge and feel more empowered in their craft.
Another creative pursuit that Hlavenka encourages is what she affectionately refers to as “Murphy Craft.” Ryan Murphy, fiLTER(ed)’s general manager, brings his 20-plus years of experience in the food industry to the growing menu. Ryan has created several unique hand-crafted Italian sodas, freshly made soups, and is currently working on new pastry ideas that are an entire meal wrapped up in an edible to-go container.
Hlavenka plans to introduce McKinney to the ProJö, a house-crafted protein coffee with sticking power for your morning buzz, and Burn F1, which helps support your metabolic rate naturally, as well as expand the FOY bottled water distribution and water bar. She intends to create more handmade, all-natural Italian sodas and increase the variety of freshly made, all-natural smoothies.
Hlavenka is also working with local trainers to create an exercise program that caters to the extremely busy. Classes would take place early in the morning and right after work. Following the success of their first book signing, Hlavenka is hoping that fiLTER(ed) will be a new alternative for event hosting. She wants to transform the recital from a function that families are forced to sit through to a fun, public forum where artists are encouraged to share their gifts with friends, family and strangers alike. The music studio is already being used by local vocal teachers, including Hlavenka, to help students discover their true instrument and how to use it.
If it sounds like there are a million different things going on and in the works at fiLTER(ed), that’s because there are. “Normalcy is constant change, and we’re here to help you embrace it,” Hlavenka says.
She envisions fiLTER(ed) as a place of opportunity. While the space itself has the ability to serve many functions, it is the people of fiLTER(ed) that make it special. They help to create and foster those moments.
“We are trying to bring the human aspect back to our fast-paced life,” Hlavenka explains.
FiLTER(ed) is located at 218 E. Louisiana St., Ste. 400, in Historic Downtown McKinney. For more information, call 469-219-8300 or visit online at getmefiltered.com.
About the author: Beth Matlock is a native Texas freelance writer and artist based in McKinney. She has a blog where she shares her art with the world at LivingArt-ArtPhotography.blogspot.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.