Nothing screams "slacker" quite like killing an afternoon in a coffee shop. But even though Richard Linklater's '90s loafer vision of Austin has long since passed, the city's coffee culture still thrives. Although it seems like every street corner now boasts a barista carefully dripping concentric circles of 205-degree water over single-origin beans, not all pour-overs are created equal. We've compiled a list of the very best coffee shops in town, from beloved community institutions to the newest caffeinated kids on the block.
The 12 Best Coffee Shops in Austin
The newest caffeinated kids on the block, Fleet is helmed by a pair of Austin's most well-known baristas, one of which received death threats on this website for his opinions on grocery store coffee. The tiny Webberville Rd shop changes roasters seasonally, and is one of the only places in town to score revered beans from Madcap Coffee out of Grand Rapids. You can't go wrong with a straight shot of espresso, but the “Coffee and” menu boasts some of the most creative drinks in town, including a cortado made using donut-infused milk.
Buzz Mill flies the flag of 24-hour coffee, and although there are other late-night espresso options, it gets the nod for the strong lumbersexual vibes and even stronger food & drink programs. The Grizzly house roast, courtesy of Barrett's, comes from a single farm; the brunch offerings are as manly as a heart attack (elk hash! wild boar sausage gravy!); and the house-infused liquors -- like jalapeño habanero vodka -- are fiery enough to put hair on your chest.
Clarksville & other locations
A longtime standard-bearer of specialty coffee in Austin, Medici's coffee rep is well-known both in and out of the city. Despite a big expansion push in recent years (with new locations on South Lamar and at 8th and Congress), its maintained its quality by updating to fresh roasters like locals Wild Gift and Minneapolis-based Spyhouse. Each location has its own charm, from the ghost of Metro haunting the Drag, to the old Austin feel of the smaller Clarksville shop.
If you've had coffee in Austin over the past decade, you've had Cuvee. One of the city's trailblazing specialty roasters, Cuvee's beans are in some of the city's hippest restaurants. But the best place to enjoy the brews is at the East Sixth outpost. Just don't expect to camp out on your laptop: its no-Wi-Fi policy aims to keep the shop from becoming a computer lab, instead aiming for a conversation-driven community atmosphere. Bonus points for the nitro cold brew and solid craft beer selection.
Rosedale & Downtown
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-up nose at the request for a foamy cappuccino. But Houndstooth has the quality to back it up. The place scores coffees you won’t find anywhere else, like PT's and Roseline, as well as industry favorites like Counter Culture, and Tweed, its affiliated roaster, which is based in Dallas. The no-nonsense vibe makes it a favorite work spot of young professionals, and a second location in the Frost Bank Tower offers Downtown office workers a much-needed grab-and-go caffeine fix.
Cesar Chavez is now the hippest street to open a business, and although Cenote is only four years old, it feels like it has earned its status as one of the anchors of the district. Built into an old church, it's earned a spot in the hearts of locals for not only the clever pour-over coffee (from roasters like Houston's Greenway), but also one of the city's most underrated breakfast tacos (with local bacon!), a solid selection of local beer taps, and half-off wine bottles on Wednesday for date night.
Few shops in town serve as the type of community hub as Radio, whose patio is a melting pot of South Austinites hungry for great coffee, beer, food, and entertainment. Stumptown supplies the coffee, while a roster of mostly local beer fills the tap, food trucks like Cazamance and Veracruz All Natural keep folks fed, and a packed calendar of music and outdoor movie screenings makes every night of the week feel like a special occasion.
Doubling as one of the city's best beer bars, Brew & Brew's coffee selection is just as much a draw. The beans are ever-changing, with trendy roasters like Portland's Heart and Southern specialty chain Revelator making regular appearances. It's also one of the few places in town to score an AeroPress, and neighboring Byron & Blue serves as a community hub for everything from art shows to live comedy.
Like so many Austin businesses, Patika’s roots were in a trailer. Its Downtown Coffee Kart earned it a reputation for serving 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. The space is clean, and the Nordic-influenced design is a perfect contrast to South Lamar’s hellish traffic, with subtle touches like a skylight making it one of the most calming places in town to work.
Opened in the summer of 2015 by two of the city’s longest-tenured baristas, Figure 8 doesn’t joke around with its coffee, though it does dodge the overly serious attitude that you might see at some of the other shops on this list. The bar stools are usually populated by a motley crew of musicians, DJs, and service-industry types, but the service is friendly enough to have cultivated a loyal crowd outside of the hipster strata. Roasters from Portland and San Francisco round out offerings from home-grown operations like Tweed and Wild Gift. There’s no food beyond pastries or alcohol, but it’s still a solid brunch alternative thanks to Sunday afternoon 45s from DJ Lord High Pockets.
Cherrywood & Crestview
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 long gone, 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.
The best little coffee trailer in town, Flitch is perhaps the most under-the-radar shop on this list. The hidden Tillery location in the courtyard outside Hatch Workshop makes it easy to miss, but the oasis-like environment makes for one of the most laid-back coffee experiences in the city. Thankfully, it doesn't skimp on quality, using beans from one of the country's best roasters, Amarillo's Evocation.
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1. Fleet Coffee2427 Webberville Rd, Austin
2. The Buzz Mill1505 Town Creek Dr, Austin
3. Caffé Medici200 Congress Ave, Austin
4. Cenote1010 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin
5. Cuvée Coffee Bar2000 E 6th St, Austin
6. Wright Bros. Brew & Brew500 San Marcos St , Austin
7. Houndstooth Coffee1900 N Henderson Ave, Dallas
8. Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors1111 Chicon St, Austin
9. Patika2159 S Lamar Blvd, Austin
10. Thunderbird Coffee2200 Manor Rd, Austin
11. Flitch Coffee641 Tillery St, Austin
12. Radio Coffee & Beer4208 Manchaca Rd, Austin
Fleet Coffee in East Austin is on the tiny side, so come early to snag a spot or take your high-quality coffee to go. The coffee shop is run under the direction of coffee experts Patrick Pierce and Lorenzo Perkins, originally from Cuvee Coffee and Caffé Medici. Roasters change seasonally and often feature Madcap Roasters from Grand Rapids. The best selections come from the "Coffee And" section of the menu, including the insanely creative cortado made using donut-infused milk.
The Buzz Mill is open 24 hours, so you can literally get your caffeine fix any time of the day. If you're into the whole lumbersexual thing, this is the perfect spot to set up shop. This Riverside hipster haven has some serious rustic vibes (the bar is made of logs, after all). In addition to coffee, you can order cocktails created with hand-concocted infusion elixirs, such as the fiery jalapeño pear vodka. Grow out your beard, wear your best flannel and head to their meat-heavy brunch for the truest Buzz Mill experience.
Caffé Medici on Congress Ave. remains an expert on all things specialty coffee and often source their beans from local roasters. The red color scheme of all of their locations give the shops a warm atmosphere that perfectly matches your coffee. If you're in a rush, the downtown location has a walk-up counter for to-go orders. For lovers of all things caffeinated, these guys host educational coffee talks throughout the year. Obviously, Caffé Medici is very serious about their coffee.
Cenote (say it with us: seh-noh-tay) takes great pride in their fair trade coffees (always French pressed), and stellar espresso. Boasting Rockstar Bagels to accompany some morning joe, this is honestly the most logical place to cure a hangover, get that extra buzz before a big night, or simply relax and catch up with friends.
Cuvée Coffee Bar in East 6th serves up some of the most well-known specialty coffee in the city. If you haven't been to the flagship stop, odds are you've tasted one of their roasts at popular Austin restaurants. The industrial vibe might make you want to crank out some work on your laptop, but steer clear of that; the coffee shop has no Wi-Fi to promote natural conversation among its patrons. The nitro cold brew and craft beer selection round out this quintessential hipster hot spot.
Both kinds of buzzes are on the menu at this beer bar and coffee shop hybrid in East Austin. Wright Bros. Brew & Brew features a constantly rotating selection of trendy roasters from around the country while their beer menu tends to take a more local approach. The industrial space houses some of the most knowledgable baristas in town, and don't forget to take advantage of the Aeropress, which is hard to find in the city. Although they don't have a kitchen, Wright Bros. Brew & Brew sources popular menu items from popular Austin eateries.
This funky chain serves high quality coffee, beer, wine and pastries and offers regular cuppings and and classes. The atmosphere is polished, modern and great for doing work or having meetings.
Figure 8 in East Austin doesn't have the serious atmosphere that many Austin coffee shops give off, but the coffee is nothing to joke about. For example, the La Marzocco Italian espresso machine practically lights up the place. The coffee shop features roasters from Portland and San Francisco in addition to local roasters such as Tweed and Wild Gift. The friendly service attracts musicians, DJs and anyone wanting a great cup of coffee. Pastries are the only food option on the menu, but there's plenty of alcohol options.
What started out as a Downtown coffee cart (that still runs) is now a coffee shop in South Austin. On the menu are pleasant coffees and espressos made with Austin coffee roaster Cuvee’s beans, along with beer and wine for the more alcohol-inclined. Rotating pastries are made in-house. Try to catch the orange-rosemary scones if you can.
Thunderbird in the Cherrywood district is an eclectic coffee shop with comfy mix-matched chairs that provide the perfect space for studying. The high-quality coffee is only brewed with direct-trade beans, so the coffee shop has a personal relationship with the people who grow its beans. The food menu hosts an impressive selection of sandwiches, such as the turkey-cranberry panini. Thunderbird is also a great place to meet friends for a beer.
Flitch Coffee operates out of a trailer in East Austin, and its shady patio is a breezy, laid-back spot to enjoy your coffee. It's a bit hidden in the courtyard outside Hatch Workshop, and the whole complex is dog-friendly. It features beans from Amarillo's Evocation, which makes the coffee much more high quality compared to the no-frills atmosphere.
Radio Coffee & Beer in South Austin is the perfect combination of Stumptown coffee, cozy backyard dog-friendly patio, extensive amounts of beer on tap and a constant presence of food trucks outside selling breakfast tacos. Every Wednesday night, catch a movie on the patio, and other nights of the week, Radio often hosts live music or comedy. The cozy interior provides the perfect environment for studying and working during the day.