The Best Coffee Shops In Houston
photo credit: Liz Silva
Houstonians love coffee. We love and consume so much coffee that it seems like nearly every independent coffee shop in town also has its own roastery. Actually, if any of these spots decided to start serving iced red eyes intravenously, we know some folks who would order that every time, especially if they are the dedicated types who get work done from a cafe or coffee shop. Maybe this explains why driving in Houston is like navigating through a medieval battle: either not enough, or way too much caffeine. We’re going with not enough.
Despite its strict no-wifi policy (yup) Catalina Coffee remains one of the best and busiest coffee shops in the entire city. Opened 15 years ago, the Sixth Ward cafe serves a never ending line of mostly regulars who swing in daily for bags of Amaya Coffee (Catalina’s sister roastery) and quad shot flat whites to go. If you want an excellent cup of coffee or expertly pulled shot of espresso without any fuss—and maybe a little bit of a wait—go to Catalina.
Blacksmith in Montrose not only functions like an Inner Loop version of Cheers—if you spend any time anywhere in the city, you will run into someone you know here—it also pumps out some of the best espresso in the city. And with a nonstop rotation of delicious seasonal pastries and solid breakfast plates and sandwiches to fuel your midday marathon email reply session, grabbing coffee at Blacksmith is a no-brainer.
At the edge of The Heights, Tenfold Coffee’s airy atmosphere—a combination of a constant hum from roasting equipment and very tall leafy green tropical plants—makes any quick coffee run or let’s-meet-for-coffee dates feel slightly more cozy. Chill on the patio for some vitamin D, or clack away on a laptop with a stiff iced coffee (add a shot of espresso to get wild).
Something about visiting Blendin off Allen Parkway in Montrose makes us feel rejuvenated. Maybe it's a caffeine buzz or the metric gigaton of sunlight from the cafe’s massive windows our bodies just absorbed. Either way, we like it. Blendin serves its own meticulously roasted coffee, and the endlessly knowledgeable baristas pull complex, fruit-forward blends and single origin shots. Try one of the layered iced drinks or a seasonal roast if you want to nerd out.
Delightfully tiny, Simply Coffie in The Heights serves a drink that makes us feel so luxurious and special we will never shut up about it: single origin iced coffee, brewed to order, served in a fun little frosted glass carafe. Not only does it taste delicious, but the gratification of seeing a beautifully presented and meticulously brewed coffee set before us feels so powerful that our glee borders on megalomania.
Un Caffe in Midtown knows its audience: people who like coffee and also happen to need a spot to study or do some work. The small, one-room cafe serves a small menu of espresso drinks, baked goods, and snacks, and it’s generally pretty full of folks hunched over a laptop. Plus, some of the ice drinks arrive with an adorable bear-shaped floating ice cube on top. Good coffee and something cute? Sign us up.
Xela’s technicolor, graffiti-splashed patio is pretty easy to spot driving up Canal in the East End. Known for its top tier in-house roasting, blaring emo-rap music, and fun pre-bottled drinks—like the Screwston cold brew with a promethazine lookalike label or a saffron spiced chai—Xela Coffee Roasters makes coffee feel serious, a little edgy, and mostly just really tasty. Order everything through the front window and snag a patio seat, or take a few bottle bevs to go.
Named for the eponymous blue tile street names found around Houston, Blue Tile Coffee in Washington Heights serves, you guessed it, coffee, and also some pastries. The open, high-ceiling space has lots of seating both in and outside, and it's right next to HEB, so a great way to either grab coffee and groceries, or contemplate dinner over an espresso.
While Koffeteria in EaDo may be better known for pastries and mixture of Cantonese-Vietnamese-Chinese breakfast plates, swinging in for one of Koffeteria’s signature drinks will equally satisfy a sweet tooth. We love the iced Tiger Uppercut mixture of potent Thai tea and espresso or the stomach-lining Salty Cambodian made with sweetened condensed milk and sourdough butter, both of which meet the daily intake requirements of the caffeine-fat-sugar coffee pyramid.
If you want to feel cool by association as well as caffeinated, check out Wolfsmiths Heights in, well, The Heights. Technically this is a motorcycle garage, repair shop, and gear store, but it also happens to operate a little coffee van on a sprawling patio, and we can’t resist the allure of a yes-and business model, especially with great coffee at the ready. Grab an espresso or something sweet and iced before perusing Wolfsmiths’ store full of gear, bikes, and more gear.
If grab-and-go coffee and pastries speak to you, or if you enjoy sitting outside whether it's raining or boiling, then go to EaDough Pastries & Provisions in, well, EaDo. The tiny aqua-colored beacon shines from its niche cut into the side of a warehouse. After placing your order at the window, which should include one of the guava danishes, you can loaf around on the postage stamp-sized elevated deck or hang at one of the picnic tables and admire the various dogs parading down the hike and bike trail.