I enjoy the taste of coffee, yes, but also the practice of slowing down, choosing to savor something, meeting a friend for conversation, and holding a warm mug in my hands. I suppose that's a lot of emotion tied to my coffee drinking. No matter, I drink it everyday, and since we've lived in Austin for nearly two-and-a-half years now, I've developed a method to my Austin coffee drinking.
If you're curious, I've previously written about our daily home coffee routine. Essentially, we save the best coffee for weekends/days off, when we have time to linger over the finished product. But for those times I want to go out for coffee, these are my favorites:
When I want coffee:
Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors—(a perennial favorite) excellent tea and coffee—good atmosphere, easy parking, indoor and outdoor seating
Caffé Medici— Espresso and coffee are always good. The West Lynn location is my favorite, as it's in a small house, and it's a cozy spot for mid-morning coffee with a friend. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Houndstooth Coffee—Consistently wonderful espresso beverages. Once you find a parking spot, the downtown location is more relaxing, and it's fun on a Saturday when it's not so busy. Closes early. South Lamar location is fun too, but can be tricky to find a table.
Vintage Heart Coffee—fair trade coffee, fabric napkins, and a mellow atmosphere (I always love their music, at least on Tuesday mornings). This is my favorite solo coffee date place, right now.
Thunderbird Coffee—I frequent the Manor location more often, but both locations are great. And if you buy bulk coffee, they give you a free drink. We meet friends here on Saturday mornings fairly often.
Fleet Coffee—tiny, well-decorated space, excellent espresso, and you can order a Chemex for two
Seventh Flag Coffee—this one is located pretty far south (for me) so I don't frequent it as much, but it has wonderful atmosphere and a modern farmhouse vibe.
Wright Bros. Brew & Brew—industrial/grunge atmosphere, excellent coffee, and a full selection of beer on tap (hence the name "brew & brew"). I've never been disappointed with a drink from here, although I prefer the atmosphere during the day.
When I want coffee and a meal:
Cenote—fun atmosphere, good full menu (lots of gluten-free options), plus indoor and outdoor seating. Coffee is pretty good, albeit sometimes inconsistent, but the food is worth a visit and its a good place to sit and work if you're going to need snacks.
Picnik—a wonderful, completely gluten-free kitchen and they have butter coffee, if I'm in the mood for that. Great place for breakfast/brunch (side note: they don't take reservations, but the wait is reasonable). I love this place so much, I ate here twice on my birthday weekend.
When I'm not in the mood for coffee, but want something (non-alcoholic) to drink:
The Steeping Room—a huge selection of teas and they serve pastries suitable for several dietary preferences. Two Austin locations; the South Lamar location is nice if you want to linger. And you can have full service/high tea here!
Juice Society—raw, fresh, organic, cold-pressed juice. It's the most refreshing thing I can think of on a hot day, or after a walk down by Lady Bird Lake.
So there you go! If you're ever visiting Austin (or if you live here) use this list as a source of input about where to find a good cup of coffee (or tea or fresh juice) in the atmosphere you're looking for. Happy sipping!
& A few notes:
I realize that "good coffee" is a pretty relative term for most people. It's only fair for me to define what I mean by "good coffee," if I'm writing about how this-place or that-place has it. Generally, I order simpler drink varieties such as a cortado, a plain latte, or a mocha with very minimal chocolate. Taking from my past experience as a barista, this is my criteria for a good coffee experience:
- smooth, full-tasting (not bitter) espresso
- an intact crema (that honey-colored top layer of the espresso)
- good milk texture (tiny bubbles making up the foam, no scalded milk taste, texture suitable for latte art)
- tastefully roasted beans (not super dark and oily-looking)
- coffee brewed in smaller batches, via various methods (pour-over, Aeropress, Chemex, Kalita wave, french press, etc.)
There is a really great coffee culture in Austin and new coffee shops open all the time, so I'm sure I missed some standouts. If you're local and you know of another good coffee place, I'd love to hear about it! And, If you want to see an overrepresented amount of pictures of coffee, you can always follow me on Instagram (What can I say? I can't turn a blind eye to the wonderful trifecta of natural light + knitting + coffee)
P.S.—As much as I love a tastefully brewed cup of artisan coffee, I also love a cup of a coffee at a diner, or cowboy coffee around a fire. There's a time and a place for everything. :)