Food & Drink

The Best Craft Coffee Shops in Houston

Published On 10/19/2015 Published On 10/19/2015
Siphon Coffee in Houston
Carla Gomez

We talk a lot about Houston’s craft beer game (and even Texas’), but there’s a whole other kind of brew stirring up local excitement, and this kind won’t even give you a hangover! That would be craft coffee. Whether you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up with a side of fried chicken biscuit or a place to study over grade-A grinds and a cake that is legitimately made out of crepes, the city’s finest caffeination stations give you pretty much zero reason to be basic with your coffee.

Campesino Coffee House

Campesino Coffee House

Montrose

Tucked inside a charming house off Lower Westheimer, this year-old Latin American-style coffee house has been gaining fans thanks to a flawless café cubano, café con leche, and horchata iced latte that is pretty much a necessity to survive the summer. With a focus on beans sourced right from Mexico and Central and South America, these guys keep things local by featuring a new local roaster every two months (they also serve Katz Coffee on the regular). Pick up a paper and an empanada, lazily sip a cortadito, and transport yourself to a way place way more relaxing than Houston.

Courtesy of Morningstar

Morningstar

Heights

This coffee-forward eatery may be new, but it has some serious pedigree behind it. The latest venture from Greenway Coffee and Blacksmith’s David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto, the breakfast, lunch, and coffee stop has been luring fans with its incredible Greenway grinds, an entire matcha beverage program, and rotating menu of brunch stuff kissed by Southeast Asian and Southern touches. Sip café sua da alongside sambal-honey butter chicken biscuits, espressos with fritter accoutrements, or take turns dunking match-frosted numbers and cinnamon-sugar “cop doughnuts” into black coffee so good it can stand on its own.

Boomtown Coffee

Boomtown Coffee

Heights

You may notice the name Boomtown making more than one appearance on this list, and for good reason -- they started life as a roaster, putting out small batches of perfectly scorched artisan beans daily and supplying shops around the city & state. Nowadays they have their own specialist java bar where you'll find big-bodied espressos, smoothly sweet milk & honey lattes, and addicting 12hr cold-brewed toddys alongside a solid lineup of café foodstuffs.

Mercantile

Montrose

Partially run by Catalina’s Max Gonzalez, you’ll find Amaya Roasting Co. beans going into the coffee at this espresso bar. You’ll also find a solid rotation of guest roasts, and a cherry-picked selection of wines and artisan goods (think espresso bean aged stout and locally made hand pies) along with things like coffee makers, cookbooks, and accessories. Get a spot on cappuccino and croissant bigger than your head on average days, and a gelato cortado on days when you’re feeling randy.

Siphon Coffee

Siphon Coffee

Montrose

You haven’t really lived until you’ve had coffee siphoned out of a contraption that looks like it was stolen from the set of Breaking Bad. Well, Siphon will happily provide that experience for you -- this bulbous piece of equipment uses halogen burners to impart some pretty unique notes into a delicious selection of beans, as well as brewing them for slightly longer for a hefty kick. Though it’s a cup of joe, the experience tastes almost like tea. But fear not: coffee fiends can still tame their demons through a solid roster of more classical brews.

Joey Marasek and Matthew Tabor

Paper Co.

​​​​​​​Sixth Ward

A reincarnation of the late Taft Street Coffee, this coffee refuge, housed in a refurbished paper factory beside the Ecclesia Church, serves the kind of joe you can get behind. That’s because not only does it take care to responsibly source its on-site-roasted beans, but 100% of its profits go toward creating space for and feeding the homeless. Sip on pour overs, foamy macchiatos, and flat whites, and feel damn good while you do so. If you want to feel even more damn good, grub on their fresh new menu of eats, including Texas-sized burgers and Nashville hot chicken.

Blacksmith

Blacksmith

Montrose

Sure, this café is home to the world’s finest and most-completely-necessary-to-order sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast biscuit – but it’s the actual coffee that makes it so cultishly adored. The magic all started with coffee wunderkind David Buehrer’s tiny Greenway Coffee bar in Greenway Plaza. Next, Buehrer and the Clumsy Butcher restaurant group dreamt up this larger shop on Westheimer, where his meticulously sourced roasts are served via lattes, cappuccinos, and cortados alongside that awesome biscuit, which seriously, you have to get. These guys support local, so look out for a series of rad collaborative pop ups on their website.

Catalina Coffee

Washington

This grandaddy of the bean-brew game has been grinding since 2007, back when Houston’s coffee scene was still in its infancy. With humble beginnings as a run-of-the-mill stop for commuters, owner Max Gonzalez’s passion for quality led him to found the Amaya Roasting Company, and a small empire was born. Hit the café for expert pulls of espresso, flavor-forward roasts, and fresh pastries delivered daily from Houston’s top baked goods purveyors.

Southside Espresso

Southside Espresso

Montrose

Houston’s craft-coffee game got that much cooler when this Lower Westheimer spot, which roasts Fusion-brand beans in-house, opened its doors in 2012. Its outside-the-box latte art brings a light-hearted feel to a coffee game that can often feel all too serious. For a little ninja kick with your caffeine, check out their collaboration with Brash Brewing, the Cortado imperial coffee breakfast stout.

Antidote

Heights

This sister coffee shop to Black Hole shows a fervor for excellence with every sip of their excellent brew. The unpretentious spots is the kind of place you want to plop down on a couch with your laptop and stay a while ...which you probably will do, given the fact that they serve habit-forming 24-hour cold brews and cajeta (goat’s milk) lattes alongside craft beers and wines, great eats, and local sweets.

Dawn Callaway

Black Hole

Montrose

You'll find the same goat's milk lattes and hip, coffee house vibe at this sister to the Heights coffee shop Antidote. Both are run by the same folks behind the renegade whiskey dive Poison Girl, so you know the atmosphere and crowd will also be super chill. Park here with your laptop, iPad, phone, or whatever other cockamamie device you have your face stuck into while you don't talk to people today and fill up on fresh brews and snacks like fat Slow Dough pretzels and roasted beet muhammara spread.

Tout Suite

Tout Suite

EaDo

This sweet shop and eatery has a coffee program curated by none other than Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer, making it easily one of the best in the city. The lineup runs the gamut from flat whites and nutty cortados to a creamy ca phe sua da, which is also available by the bottle. Take it all in with a serious selection of daily made pastries, including chocolate-dipped macaron, cheese danish, and an 18 layer cake MADE OUT OF CREPES.

Inversion Coffee House

Inversion Coffee House

Montrose

You’ll always find a steady crowd at this artsy Montrose haunt, and it’s not just for the free Wi-Fi, La Mexicana breakfast tacos, and food truck parked out front (though those things probably help). The chalkboard menu of coffee and teas, which includes heavy hitters like salted caramel lattes, frozen chai creams, and Euro-way espresso Cubanos, are all pretty delicious, too. The recent interior refresh breathes new, airy life into the space, but you’ll still find the rockstar beverage lineup that lured you in the first place.

The Honeymoon Café & Bar

Downtown

Great news! You can get all the charm of a New Orleans-style café without having to spend 5+ hours on I-10. Just hit this coffee shop and bar, brought to you by the aforementioned Boomtown coffee and the team behind places like Grand Prize Bar and Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge. You’ll be just as happy chilling over mugs of expertly crafted cappuccinos during the day as you will be slipping into a sultry velveteen sofa for a liqueur-spiked coffee cocktail at night.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer who was highly caffeinated while writing this. Stop her from drinking her fifth cup by following her @BrookeViggiano.

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1. Campesino Coffee House 2602 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77006

Campesino Coffee House is a Montrose coffee shop with Latin American flavors, such as café cubano, café con leche, and horchata iced latte. Beans are sourced straight from Mexico and Central and South America, but they keep their local ties by featuring a new local roaster every two months. The bright interior and large windows open up the place and welcome customers looking for a departure from your typical coffee shop experience.

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2. Morningstar 4721 N Main St Ste M, Houston, TX 77009

Morningstar in Heights brings grade-A grinds, matcha-iced donuts, and some serious pedigree to Houston. This venture from Greenway Coffee and Blacksmith’s David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto, offers rotating breakfast and brunch menus, showing off everything from sweet and nutty donut flavors to Korean steak & eggs. It may take a few trips to find your favorites, but every one of said trips will be worthwhile. The space is industrial yet inviting iwht warm wood paneling, concrete accents and chalkboard menus.

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3. Boomtown Coffee 242 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Matthew Toomey's familiar classic has become the standard to which all other Houston craft coffee shops are held. Boomtown Coffee in Heights operates as a specialist java bar where you can order cold brew, toddys and full-bodied espressos. Boomtown as a company has made a name for itself in Houston by being one of the top artisan coffee bean suppliers in the city.

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4. Mercantile 3321 Stanford St, Houston, 77006

Mercantile in Montrose features a rotation of guest roasters and always features Amaya Roasting Co. beans in their coffee. After getting your caffeine fix, the handmade baked goods will have you here for hours. For example, the croissants often are as big as your face, and the locally made pies pair comfort with intense flavor. Mercantile also houses a grocery store where beans, pasta, cookbooks and Chemex products are available.

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5. Siphon Coffee 701 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This coffee shop, coming from club-owner Michael Caplan, is naturally stepped up a few notches. Get yourself some coffee, craft brews, or wine on tap -- along with eats from a food menu designed by former Brasserie 19 Chef Amanda McGraw. That makes the coffee experience unique is the shop's namesake siphon, which is used in the roasting process to brew them longer for an extra kick

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6. Blacksmith 1018 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77006

In a space that formerly housed Houston's most iconic gay bar, Blacksmith sets itself apart from the rest of the Houston coffee scene thanks to its all-star cast of city veterans, including the roaster of Greenway Coffee and the guys behind Beard-lauded establishments Anvil and Underbelly. Be sure to pair your java with scratch-made biscuits with a side of creme fraiche and marmalade.

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7. Southside Espresso 904 Westheimer Rd, Houston, 77006

The quirky, timely latte art gives this Montrose coffee shop a whimsical edge to its otherwise serious coffee selections. A selection of craft beers is always rotating, but it often features coffee stout if you need a even bigger kick with your caffeine. Southside Espresso only holds half a dozen patrons at most, so don't expect to camp out at the coffee shop for too long.

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8. Catalina Coffee 2201 Washington Ave, Houston, 77007

Owner Mike Gonzalez founded the Amaya Roasting Company, whose beans can be found at coffee shops all over the city. Catalina Coffee opened in 2007, making it one of the younger artisanal coffee shops in the city. In addition to coffee, the Washington location offers loose-leaf teas and pastries delivered from local shops around Houston.

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9. Paper Co. 1100 Elder St, Houston, 77007

Craft coffee in a chic industrial space. The sweeping ceilings will have you posted up inside for as long as your over-caffeinated body will allow.

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10. Tout Suite 2001 Commerce St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

This 7,000-square-foot draws a busy yet quiet lunch crowd via scratch-made pastries, entree options like Vietnamese steak and eggs, and a coffee program curated by none other than Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer, making it easily one of the best in the city. Including espresso-based classics, the lineup runs the gamut from flat whites and nutty cortados to a creamy ca phe sua da, which is also available by the bottle.

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11. Inversion Coffee House 1953 Montrose Boulevard, Houston, TX 77006

This eclectic Montrose favorite serves up sweet and frothy caffeinated beverages, like salted caramel lattes and frozen chai creams. Locals also flock here for the free Wi-Fi, La Mexicana breakfast tacos, and a food truck parked out front (though those things probably help). The recent interior refresh breathes new, airy life into the space, but you’ll still find the rockstar beverage lineup that lured you in the first place.

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12. The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar 300 Main St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

The guys behind Boomtown Coffee teamed up with the dudes behind Lei Low, Bad News, and Grand Prize Bar to bring us this Main St hangout that’s part coffee house, part cocktail bar, and part awesome. The kitchen impresses with breakfast and lunch dishes like oyster BLTs and beignets, while the bar slings serious coffees and libations – all made with top flight ingredients, of course. It’s like living in NOLA, but without the stank of Bourbon.

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13. Antidote Coffee 729 Studewood St, Houston, TX 77007

This Heights neighborhood hangout is a sister venue to Black Hole, serving up quality espresso and coffee in addition to 24-hour cold brews. It's the perfect place to settle in with your laptop and stay a while, as it is open both early and late. If you come for the latter, enjoy beer and wine instead of coffee. The spot is unpretentious and casual, with comfy couches and seating.

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14. Black Hole 4504 Graustark St, Houston, TX 77006

At this Montrose favorite, a couch- and light-filled space draw slow crowds that spend entire afternoons parked with their laptops and snacks like fat Slow Dough pretzels and roasted beet muhammara spread The fresh coffee program also deviates from your standard coffee house, with unique beverages like goat's milk lattes and cubanos prepared with raw sugar during the brewing process.

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