ATXGuide

The 15 Best Coffee Shops In Austin

It's not hard to find a cup of coffee in Austin, but these are the best in the city.
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photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

It’s hard to go more than a few blocks without stumbling on a coffee shop in Austin—we’re a city that loves caffeine. Sometimes, you want a cafe or a coffee shop where you can get some work done. Other times, you just want the best cup of coffee you can find. This list of the best coffee shops includes everything from tiny coffee trailers and stands, to fancy, new-wave coffee shops where you can nerd out about things like anaerobic fermentation and whether or not microwaving your cold brew is a suitable morning preparation method. The next time you’re looking for somewhere new to kick-start your morning, head to one of these spots.  

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Bakery/Cafe

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$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light BiteLunchBreakfast
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If you ever wondered what a $16 cup of coffee tastes like, Proud Mary is where to find out. Is it worth it? That depends on how much you care about rare, specialty beans, and how much money you have to burn. This is an Australian-born cafe—with just a couple of locations in the US—which means that in addition to flat whites and pricey pour-overs, you’ll also find the requisite avocado toast and Aussie sausage rolls on the menu. And if you couldn’t care less about whether or not your beans contain subtle notes of cantaloupe and pink guava, you can just get a “normal” single-origin drip coffee for $4 and be on your way. 


Started as a project between a few Austin coffee veterans almost a decade ago, the East Side coffee shop Figure 8 is a haven for coffee lovers of all types, but especially those into a well-pulled espresso. There’s an industrial, plant-filled interior that’s just as welcoming for an afternoon of getting sh*t done as it is for a quick afternoon pick-me-up, and on any given day you’ll find a small hand-written menu, usually with a few varieties each for espresso, pour-over, drip, and iced coffees. 


There are a lot of reasons we like heading to Barrett’s Coffee in the Highland neighborhood. For one, it’s small and cozy, but filled with enough tables to make it a great place to work. It always smells great, thanks largely in part to the roasting that takes place behind not-so-closed doors. But most importantly, Barrett’s makes some of our  favorite specialty coffees in town, including a nitro root beer float that somehow manages to pack all the flavor and creaminess of its namesake beverage into something vaguely resembling a cup of cold brew.


If you’ve ever been to the Webberville Food Truck Park in East Austin on the weekend, you’ve probably seen a long and winding line that could easily be mistaken for one of Austin’s legendary barbecue joints. Everyone’s waiting in line for Desnudo Coffee, a tiny, family-run trailer operation that’s built a reputation on high-quality coffee, excellent execution, and incredibly friendly service. Try a silky smooth cold brew or an espresso if you want to try some small producer, fair market coffee in its purest form, otherwise get a brown sugar miso latte to try the drink that really helped the place take off. And if you’re not a fan of waiting in line, you can always just order online before you head out.  


Maybe you just made your way through a six-hour stint in the Franklin Barbecue line down the street and find yourself in desperate need of some non-brisket energy, or maybe you just want a good cup of coffee in a chill space in East Austin. Try Hard is where music and coffee lovers unite in one of those “epic handshake" memes—though admittedly, we don’t have many coffee friends who aren’t also into music—with DJs spinning vinyl almost every day of the week. But since this is a coffee shop guide, you can also get great drip coffees, cold brew, and espresso-based drinks, all made with house-roasted beans, plus seasonal drinks that give you a reason to keep going back. 


One of the OGs in the “third-wave coffee” scene in Austin, Houndstooth has been around for well over a decade, in that time expanding to multiple locations across the city, but it all started in a small strip mall shop on North Lamar in Rosedale. Baristas take center stage here, set in the center of the shop on what feels like a stage doling out excellent espressos, pour-overs, and lattes topped with perfect little tulips. Houndstooth takes coffee seriously, and serves as one of the most reliable bets for a good morning pick-me-up, even if you have no idea what the f*ck “third-wave coffee” means. 


Taking up barely more space than a very large Keurig, this micro-trailer in Hyde Park offers a small menu of coffee and espresso-based drinks that we find ourselves at often. Maybe it’s the friendly service, maybe it’s the tiny, 5’x5’ astroturf lawn out front that acts as a little red carpet, or maybe there’s just something inherently cute about ordering great coffee from such a tiny shop. Terrible Loves makes a surprisingly smooth cold brew, but if you’re in the mood for something just a little more fun, try the “trrbl latte”—a banana pudding-inspired latte with nilla wafer crumbles.It’s less sweet than the description would lead you to believe, and one of the more creative ways to kick-start a morning. 


Show up to the original location of Civil Goat out in Cuernavaca and there’s a 90% chance that you’ll see Butters the goat roaming the grounds. Don’t worry, he’s friendly. And if that wasn’t enough to sell you on a visit here—or you happen to be visiting the locations by Campus or in Cherrywood—maybe the small, but well-crafted menu of coffee, espresso, and tea will do the trick. You’re not really here for novelty lattes, you’re just here for a good, reliable cortado or a creamy nitro cold brew. Besides, isn’t the goat novelty enough?


Everybody knows that the best part of breakfast cereal is the last few sips of cereal-infused milk at the bottom of the bowl. Fleet Coffee takes that magical moment and serves it in the form of a Fruity Pebble cortado, made with cereal-infused milk. But it’s not all novelty drinks at Fleet Coffee—you’ll also find a small menu of expertly crafted espresso-based drinks, from pure and simple shots, to a refreshing espresso-and-tonic with local grapefruit. Fleet has a couple of locations in town, but visiting the semi-permanent trailer on Manor Road means you can load up on La Santa Barbacha tacos on the way out. 


Close your eyes and picture a small coffee shop in Marfa, Texas filled with desert plants and sandy earth tones, and it probably looks a lot like Palomino Coffee on East 12th Street. This is one of our favorite coffee shops on aesthetics alone, but this isn’t a guide to the “prettiest coffee shops in Austin.” The rest of the reasons to visit are simple: house-roasted beans, excellent espresso, and a small menu of seasonal drinks to help you remember what month it is when the Austin climate is confused. You can also pick up palo santo from the small marketplace up front to really lean into the West Texas aesthetic.  


You’ve probably come across Cuvée Coffee’s popular cans of cold brew in convenience stores all across Austin, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to hear that this East Side coffee shop makes an excellent cup of coffee, cold-brew or otherwise. The building is very industrial, with lots of metal and tall ceilings—it feels more suited to a quick caffeine stop than to an afternoon hang, but not every coffee shop is a place to post up for the day. If it’s your first time here, try a nitro cold brew—Cuvée was the first coffee shop ever to can the stuff, and was a roastery long before that. If you’ve ordered a coffee anywhere in Austin, there’s a high chance you’ve already tried a cup of Cuvée. Why not try it from the source? 


For nearly two decades, Medici Roasting has been a name in the Austin coffee scene—first, with the original Medici Roasting—AKA Caffe Medici—in Clarksville, and even today with its own location in the Austin Airport. The beans are mostly single-origin and sustainably sourced, and the cozy neighborhood shop feels like a place where you can just as easily nerd out with the baristas about the difference in flavor profiles between washed and unwashed beans, or just pop in for your morning brew and be on your way. 


Originally hailing from San Antonio, Merit Coffee has spent the last 15(ish) years expanding to three different cities in Texas, including Austin. And in that time the operation amassed a large, dedicated following—it’s rare to walk into a Merit and not find a short wait. Beans are sustainably sourced and roasted locally enough an hour south, and this is the only place we’ve been to that offers both washed and natural cold brew on tap. What’s the difference between the two? We’re pretty sure that one’s a little fruitier than the other, but that’s probably more of a question for the experts behind the counter. 


Everything about Spokesman just feels different from a typical new-age coffee shop. It’s set in a large, industrial warehouse with graffiti on the walls, almost a dozen beers on draft, and even a tap that’s always pouring ice-cold, carbonated Glacier Freeze Gatorade, for when you really need to get sh*t done. Spokesman roasts its own beans—supplying coffee to this South Austin shop, and a second location in Highland—and the commitment to high-quality, single-origin coffee shows. You’ll taste the difference between espressos from different origins, and quickly wonder why you haven’t been sourcing natural Guatemalan beans your whole life. 


Brew & Brew is the kind of coffee shop/bar where you can sip on a cappuccino, surrounded by “entrepreneurs,” custom motorcycle designers, and grad students avoiding working on their theses—sometimes, all in the same person. This bar and coffee shop is located on a busy corner in the heart of East Austin, and it’s one of the single best places in town to do some people-watching over a great cup of drip coffee or espresso. Beans are sourced from lots of local roasteries—many of which you’ll find on this very list—so you can kind of treat this as a one-stop shop for sampling and finding your own favorite. 

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