Best coffee shops in Austin
Helmed by an alum of iconic local band Voxtrot and his long-time girlfriend (an accomplished musician herself), Figure 8 counts a cast of stalwart musicians and artists as regulars, attracted by some of the best coffee in town. The white powder-coated espresso machine rotates between beans from Portland’s Coava, SF’s Four Barrel, and locals Wild Gift and Tweed, and every shot of espresso is served with a chaser of Topo Chico. Pull up a seat at their community table (built out of an old conveyor belt) and after a few minutes of eavesdropping you’ll probably have a new favorite band.
There’s little place for laptops in this tiny 364sqft cafe on Webberville Road, which functions as more of a stop-and-go cafe than a computer lab. It’s owned by two of the city’s longest-running baristas so expect perfect espresso, but the real stand-out is the “Coffee And” menu featuring a coffee tonic and the “Morning Ritual”, which pairs espresso with doughnut-infused milk and a doughnut hole.
Caffeine and alcohol make fine bedfellows at this design-minded East Austin cafe that boasts 40 taps of beer and one of the city’s most ambitious coffee programs. A Modbar espresso system recessed into the counter means there’s no clunky machine between you and the barista, who serves shots from hip nationally-lauded roasters like Madcap and Heart, plus Aeropresses with local beans from Flat Track. After your cup, be sure to check the adjoining art gallery and boutique Byron & Blue.
Kickstarted by a veteran Austin barista, Flitch is a quaint coffee trailer that has quickly become one of the coolest meeting places in the city. All the seating is outdoors on community tables crafted by neighboring Hatch Workshop, which lends the space a comfortable mix of intentioned design and DIY energy. Be sure to pet Jake, the adorable “coffee dog”.
Cuvee is Austin’s most popular roaster, and although they’re ubiquitous at restaurants, the best place to enjoy the coffee is at their shop. The move is to order a seasonal roast like their Los Luchadores, which uses hybrid El Salvadorian beans bred for their massive size and buttery flavors. A dozen carefully curated beers are another excuse to visit, as is their legendary nitro cold brew. The only drawback? They don’t offer wi-fi.
Located at the Yard, a mixed-use warehouse district that houses everything from a gym to an urban winery to Austin's first whiskey distillery since Prohibition, Spokesman coffee and beer is a friendly home to caffeinated bikers and local South Austin beer lovers. The coffee beans are roasted in-house, while beer comes from Spokesman's favorite local breweries (including St. Elmo Brewing, just a couple doors down). Graffiiti by Austin artist Briks lends the space a relaxed, hip vibe, and the bartenders make the coffee shop even more chill with their friendly banter and carefully considered recommendations.
Although older Austinites miss its grungier days, Thunderbird has transformed from a hipster hivemind into one of the friendliest and least pretentious cafes in the city. Students nursing cheap refills of Counter Culture coffee still hog the indoor real estate, but the expansive patio is typically lighter on Macbooks and populated by an older crowd more fixated on happy hour beer specials than checking their Facebook. Visit both locations (Manor Rd or Koenig Ln) to find your go-to spot
Tucked behind the South Congress Hotel, everything about Mañana feels boutique. Mexican-inspired tiled countertops, rustic wood furnishings, and a flood of natural light give an otherwise high-designed space a down-to-earth feel. A custom, wood-paneled espresso machine supplies the brew, while the hotel’s James Beard nominated pastry chef fills the cases with creative snacks like everything-seasoned kolaches.
Scoring a seat this cafe built out of an old cathedral is tough, but both the coffee and food are worth the effort. Whereas most coffee shops happily peddle reheated breakfast tacos, Cenote takes pride in prepping them fresh using locally-cured bacon from Flying Pig, as well as offering more elaborate brunch dishes like kale scramble. Coffee is served in French Presses or pourovers, and after dark they transform into a solid drinking destination with eight wines by the glass and seven all-local drafts.
A skylight over the seating area gives Patika a sunny, peaceful energy that drives its reputation as one of the calmest shops in town. The roasters change regularly, but count on their V60 pourovers to be some of the tastiest in the city, especially when paired with next-level baked goods like their peanut butter sriracha cookies. On Wednesday and Thursdays it doubles as a low-key concert venue, hosting highly palatable jazz and softer indie rock.
Manchaca has never been much of a food and drink destination, but Radio offers a solid excuse to venture south. They’ve built a devoted daytime crowd thirsty for Stumptown Coffee, but come five o’clock the space transforms into a happy hour circus thanks to the 24 taps, nightly calendar of free music and film programming, and sprawling patio featuring two of Austin’s most iconic food trailers: Veracruz All Natural and Cazamance.
One of the pioneers of Austin’s specialty coffee scene, Caffe Medici began in 2006 in a bungalow off West Lynn and has since expanded to four locations. Each has their own charm, but the original feels most lived-in, keeping the breezy but sophisticated atmosphere of the Clarksville neighborhood alive with Clever pourovers from Wisconsin's Ruby Roasters and espresso from Cuvee, Austin's flagship third wave roaster.
In a city full of coffee dorks, Houndstooth is perhaps the most unabashed, wearing its single-origin nerdiness (and custom denim aprons) with occasionally condescending pride. Expect a choice of espressos from national roasters like PT's Coffee Roasters and Counter Culture, as well as seasonals from Tweed (owned by the shop’s founders). They’ve expanded to a second space downtown in the Frost Tower, but the North Lamar location retains more neighborhood energy and is one of the city’s best workspaces. If you’re feeling experimental, don’t miss their coffee julep.
It’s easy to write off Juan Pelota as a pet project of Lance Armstrong’s Mellow Johnny’s bike shop, but the adjoined cafe is much more than just a place to wait while for a tune-up. The tongue-in-cheek name harks to the consequences of Armstrong’s cancer treatments (pelota is Spanish for “ball”), but they aren’t joking with the coffee. Shots using beans from Stumptown and Dallas-based Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters make it the best downtown coffee option west of Congress Ave.