In a city like Austin, there is little doubt that many of us are only alive thanks to the help of coffee. But there's coffee, and then there's coffee, and at these places, they serve only the latter...
Since back when it was known as Clementine, Thunderbird on Manor has been one of the anchors of the booming Cherrywood district. Its days as a hipster hive mind are behind it, but the shop’s identity has aged gracefully into a neighborhood institution for laptop-toting students, young professionals, and older Eastside regulars. The coffee’s always been great, but these days it's an even better place to meet for a low-key beer.
For visitors to Austin there’s no bigger coffee ambassador than Jo’s. Its window next to Hotel San Jose might be the highest-volume shop on this list, fueling South Congress with an endless stream of chocolatey iced Turbos that leave memorable impressions in the mouths of strolling tourists, but also serve as the lifeblood of the cast of old-school slackers that populates its patio.
Like so many Austin businesses, Patika’s roots were in a trailer. Its Downtown coffee kart earned it a rep for some of the best espresso in town, a level of dedication that carried over to the brick-and-mortar in the form of expert baristas and a rotating cast of coffees from locals like Cuvée and Wild Gift to out-of-towners like SF’s Sightglass.
Radio is one of the newer spots in town that is following that good ‘ol half-beer bar, half-coffee shop set-up -- the java comes from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, but the beer it carries is mostly local. They owner is a U of T grad who spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest, where he found a passion in beans & brews, and one that he’s infused into every part of the joint.
Opened in the summer of 2015 by two of the city’s longest-tenured baristas, Figure 8 doesn’t joke around with its coffee, but dodges the overly serious attitude that you might see at some of the other shops on this list.
Houndstooth might be the champion of Austin coffee nerdery. Expect to be hit with an array of adjectives about your brew and maybe a turned nose at asking for a foamy cappuccino, but it's got the quality to back it up.
With 38 taps of craft beer and local coffee from Flat Track Coffee, Wright Bros. has been gaining attention since day one. The place has minimalistic décor so you can focus on what you are drinking instead of suggestive advertising. It takes both its passion for coffee and its love for craft beer seriously. Wright Bros. is an equally great place to start your day with an AeroPress coffee and to wind down after work with a cold beer.
Epoch has a pretty extensive list of coffees, espressos, teas, and other drinks. On the weekend you will find a lot of college students, nerds playing board games, and unusual regulars who seem to just live there. The coffee is great, and cheap, and there’s not much more you can ask of a place like this.
Cuvée’s one of the biggest roasters in town and this past year it threw its hat into the coffee shop game with an East 6th outpost that’s got an industrial vibe and an emphasis on fostering a more old-school, conversation-driven atmosphere thanks to a controversial decision to remove Wi-Fi. So don’t bring your laptop, but do bring a taste for nitro cold brew and a draft beer for dessert.
Few places nail the neighborhood cafe vibe quite like Cenote. Built into an old church, it’s one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood and has earned a spot in the hearts of locals for doing so many things right.
Medici’s has long had a reputation as Austin’s standard-bearer of coffee quality, and although several upstarts in the last year have challenged its supremacy, it’s still one of the very best places to score an expertly pulled shot of espresso from Cuvée or a rotating cast of out-of-town roasters.
24-hour shops with serious coffee programs are a rarity these days, but thankfully the lights at Buzz Mill never go out. The vibes are lumbersexual thanks to lots of reclaimed wood, draft beer, and a solid selection of infused liquors, but one of the biggest reasons to visit is all the food trailers cranking out legit barbecue and cheesesteaks. Bonus points for carrying Ken’s samosas.