Best Austin coffee shops near Airport Boulevard

Airport Boulevard is fast changing into a cultural magnet. Austin Community College anchors a remake of Highland Mall and numerous new hot spots pop up on the boulevard. Yet some of the nearby coffee shops not far away are among Austin’s oldest and most revered.

Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery. 411 E. 43rd St. 512-453-3399. quacksbakery.com. 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun. Shared onsite parking, plus plenty of street parking on wide East 43rd Street. Decaf, teas, chai. Wifi. Quiet atmosphere most of the day.

Quack’s Bakery offers a lot. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

No Austin coffeehouse trails a longer or more storied pedigree than Quack’s. Born as Captain Quackenbush’s Intergalactic Dessert Company and Espresso Cafe on the Drag — at a time during the 1980s when such places were extremely rare in Austin — this Hyde Park scratch bakery and beverage staple fits into an intimate retail node that includes complementary post-hippe outfits such as Mother’s Cafe, Hyde Park Cafe, Dolce Vita, Julio’s Cafe, Fresh Plus, Antonelli’s Cheese House and Asti Trattoria. Two interior rooms are almost always full. Any time the weather is fine, customers gather around small tables under an awning outside, or they might take advantage of communal lawn furniture just down the sidewalk. The bakery selections, along with deli items, are almost overwhelming in number and almost always satisfying. And while the city has nurtured a much more serious coffee culture in since the ’80s, Quack’s still makes a darn good cup from locally roasted beans.

Flightpath Coffeehouse since 1992. Contributed by Flightpathcoffeehouse.com

Flightpath Coffeehouse. 5011 Duval St. 512-458-4472. flightpathcoffeehouse.com. 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Very little onsite parking, restricted street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Strong wifi. Plenty of niches for quiet time.

Let’s remind relative newcomers to Austin that, until 1999, this location stood directly in the deafening flightpath for planes descending into the old Mueller Airport, now the new urbanist Mueller development. It might not be as old as nearby Quack’s, but anything in our city that has thrived since 1992 is almost antiquarian. The place has grown enormously in what feels like a narrow, old residential structure on the edge of the Hyde Park area. A covered patio and spacious backroom handle the overflow from the front parlor and central food-and-drink service area. Flightpath has gotten serious about snacks, too, including a wall of ready-to-go treats. A lot of laptoppers land here, but it’s not so quiet that a friendly meeting is out of place. Although University of Texas students still wander this far north, today’s crowd seems a little older and more settled.

Contributed

Kick Butt Coffee. 5775 Airport Blvd. 512-454-5425. kickbuttcoffee.com. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.,  6 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.* Plenty of surface parking on site. Some of the music is live. Decaf, teas, chai. Some quiet spots in this big space.

We’ve always liked owner Thomas Gohring and his ambitions to create a singular community around coffee, booze, entertainment and, yes, martial arts. Gohring brings to the game a flair for showmanship, an element almost absent from any other coffee shop in town. He has expanded the size of his original location on Airport Boulevard while retracting his attempts to go global. A small stage, backed by his signature graphics, takes pride of place, but the long coffee bar attests to the original impulse to serve rigorously prepared espresso drinks along with food, beer and wine. As the ACC Highland project, as well as the Linc and other area redevelopments fire up, expect Kick Butt to thrive and retain its inimitable character. *The place opens and closes at odd times; we rounded up or down.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Northwest Austin.

Best Austin coffee shops near Northwest Austin

We are discovering little coffee gems in Northwest Austin.

These days, we build our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start in the Great Northwest with …

Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Nelo’s Cycles & Coffee. 8108 Mesa St. 512-338-0505. neloscycles.com. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-noon Sun. Lots of surface parking in shared shopping center lot. Coffee nook is small but comfortable.

David Wyatt introduced us to this little winner that’s near his new offices on Spicewood Lane at Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, which recently absorbed Wyatt Brand. Lance Armstrong long ago proved that coffee and bicycles go together with his Juan Pelota Cafe inside Mellow Johnny’s. We were the only customers at Nelo’s on a very rainy day, but that made the warm coffee nook in the back of the shop all the more inviting. The cycle services look very serious, but so is the coffee, made with Grimpeur Brothers Specialty Coffee. Add a few tempting snacks and some comfortable seats around small tables and you have a perfect place to meet up.

Epoch Coffee @ Far West. 3900 Far West Blvd. 512-436-8594. epochcoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf espresso drinks, tea and chai. Limited surface parking, but plenty of street options on Chimney Corners. Don’t park in nearby lots. Outside, this shop is quiet; inside it is very quiet.

Austin’s Epoch Coffee has proven that it can reinvent itself in countless ways. While the funky flagship @ North Loop remains the overwhelming public favorite, this one might be mine. The first thing one notices is the huge windows that look like overhead doors associated with auto garages. Inside, there’s a incongruous central stairwell that leads to a close-off basement. Both features are clues that this structure formerly served as a Jiffy Lube — and perhaps another such business before that. The remaining layout required some creative arrangements, with long, shared tables in the central area and a calm, narrow, darker room to the west of that. (Warning: You won’t hear your order come up back there.) The main event, of course, is the counter, which is bright, brisk and efficient. The coffee products are predictably good and the pastry fresh. There for an early afternoon meeting, I was struck by the fact that almost everyone else was lost in laptop land. Nobody, however, was tempted by the patio out front this very hot day.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

Best Austin coffee shops near Southeast Austin

Southeast Austin’s coffee culture percolates slowly.

We trying something fresh here by building up our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start with …

Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Café Crème. 1834 E. Oltorf St. 512-710-9473. cafecremeaustin.com. 7 a.m.-6p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf, teas, chai, beer, wine. Plentiful surface parking. Lots of quiet niches.

I remember this space as an arts center. Can’t remember the name. The S-shaped room is located in a nondescript office-like building that’s easy to miss along busy East Oltorf Street. Yet plenty of people from the Travis Heights East, Riverside and Pleasant Valley hoods have found it and deem Café Crème, which blends French, Vietnamese and other influences, the best coffee spot in Southeast Austin. The counter is front and center. Multiple rooms with tables and chairs — including conference rooms with doors — extend to the left and right. The crowd includes a healthy mix of silent laptappers and quiet chatters. The espresso-based drinks can be quite good, but the owners are also quite proud of their bakery that turns out pastries, kolaches, breakfast tacos and crêpes.

We’ll seek out more Southeast Austin coffee shops soon.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

Best Austin coffee shops near Central East Austin

Central East Austin is home quite a few excellent coffeehouses.

We are going to try something new here by building up our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start with …

The Houndstooth Coffee shop on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard extends the Henry brothers’ take on updated modernism. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Houndstooth Coffee. 2823 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 512-243-8902. houndstoothcoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 pm. Sat.-Sun. Very little street parking. Decaf, teas, chai, beer, wine, cocktails, food. Carefully calibrated music. Some outdoor seating.

We recently profiled Houndstooth brothers Sean and Paul Henry. Here’s what we said about their third Austin spot: “It anchors the Platform residence complex near the MLK stop on the MetroRail line. It’s also tall, angular and welcoming. The long counter is backed by a food preparation area that will provide more food to go along with the coffee, beer, wine and cocktails as the shop matures. Several features, inspired by trends in the hospitality industry, stand out: One can order from anywhere in the shop as baristas make their way to one’s location; also, one can open a tab during a longer stay. “We want to bridge the a.m.-p.m. divide,” Paul says. “People think coffee shop in the morning and bar in the evening. Why not both?” The music slightly elevates the energy in the place depending on the time of day, while sound panels help keep down the echo in a room where more than 50 people can gather and still hold a conversation.”

Iced coffee with laptops at Cuvée. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Cuvée Coffee. 2000 E. Sixth St. 512-368-5636. cuveecoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Limited onsite parking with the option to park next door when indicated. Some outdoor seating available on the former loading dock. Wifi now on!

Few Austin makers of coffee are as serious about their craft as the folks at Cuvée, who have been roasting their own beans since 1998. They also introduced nitro black coffee cold brew to Austin, which they pour from a tap at their main spot and when they cater. Even if you’ve never been to their remodeled warehouse on rapidly evolving East Sixth Street, you’ve likely savored their products, since several other Austin coffee houses employ their beans (look for the icy blue bags). At the East Austin outlet, a central triangular well offers coffee on one side, beer on the other. It’s one of the most inviting counters in town, but you can also choose from tables large and small, as well as a few well-shaded outdoor sit-downs. But here’s the big news: They now offer wifi. Valiantly, the owners had tried to encourage a sense of community by keeping the laptopping to a minimum, but they have relented and at least a few customers were taking advantage during our most recent visit. Cuvée still keeps on staff some of the most engaging baristas around and that cold brew is so inviting, this reporter defies his heart doctor to skip the decaf for a refreshing cup.

Cenote. 1010 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-1311. cenoteaustin.com. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. Street parking available, but you might have to walk a bit. Teas, chai, decaf. Strong WiFi. Many quiet niches.

One of the first coffee shops of this type in East Austin, Cenote takes full advantage of its 19th-century Victorian house with its ultra-tall ceilings as well as the rich alluvial soil of its surrounding gardens. Seating is divided roughly in thirds, one part inside, one part along tables on a shaded east patio, one part among scattered tables in the south garden, which includes a small performance stage. One orders from the counter to the back. Drinks are listed on customary boards, but for food, pick up a menu by the register. Besides the hot and cold beverages, Cenote serves beer and wine as well as a copious selection of food, including tacos, pastries, sandwiches and veggies, all carefully sourced. The place is popular with laptoppers, but if you are there to meet someone, your conversation won’t disturb them.  In fact, Cenote is so well-liked, you might have trouble locating a free table during certain stretches of the days and nights. Note: Be kind to neighbors by watching where you park in the residential neighborhood to the north.

Thunderbird Cafe. 2200 Manor Road. 512-472-9900. thunderbirduaustin.com. 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Very little onsite parking. Street parking backs up quickly. Decaf, teas, chai. Generally quiet.

I always plan to arrive early when I meet a friend at Thunderbird Cafe, the longstanding stop on Manor Road close by a half dozen established eateries and walking distance from the University of Texas campus. So popular is this Greater Cherrywood outfit, there’s rarely two seats open together at the high tables, low tables, small tables or picnic tables. Laptoppers rule this domain. Happily, the baristas are accomplished so the line at the central counter near the south door is rarely long. Snacks, some light, some substantial, are available there. The coffee is good and the beer is welcome, especially on hot days when the western sun beats down on the well-worn patio. The feel is very local and the owners have opened a second location in the Crestview/Brentwood area. Does anyone else have trouble with their website?

Flat Track Coffee. 1619 Cesar Chavez St. 512-540-6040. flattrackcoffee.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week. Limited onsite parking. Decaf. Quiet spots.

Three makes a trend. First there was Lance Armstrong’s breakthrough Juan Pelota Cafe downtown. Then Nelo’s Cycles & Coffee in Northwest Hills. Flat Track Coffee, which has been hidden from my scrutiny since it opened some three years ago (according to my barista), makes it a trend to put a coffee shop into your cycling spot. (There could be more in town. We’ll report.) Here, the customer really feels like a part of the action because the repairs are done right in front of you while you take in the wonderful aroma of tires and oils. Wonderful to me at least. There’s a generous upfront patio outside, then mostly counter space near the windows, and more tables in the back, all kind of chic without trying too hard to be so. The coffee is good, too, and my barista was particularly helpful with the decaf options. The menu is minimalist, which seems to be another Austin trend. Anyway, now that I’ve found it, I’ll return to Fast Track soon.

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Bennu Coffee. 2002 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 512-478-4700. bennucoffee.com. Open 24 hours seven days a week. Decaf, teas, chai. Onsite and nearby street parking. Strong Wifi. Plenty of quiet spots.

We got to know this coffee group when it took over the venerable Dominican Joe spot at South Congress Avenue and Riverside Drive. We were impressed with the concept. It takes just a few variations to make an Austin coffee shop feel special. Open 24 hours a day? That’s clearly a winning strategy. Pack the place with a lot of mismatched old furniture? Also a natural choice for Austin. Both locations can get quite crowded, mostly with sprawling, intensely focused laptoppers. Yet the East Austin spot benefits from its long, low-ish, somewhat dark space in an older commercial structure as well as its extra-large counter area, where one can find snacks as well as beverages. Does anyone know the previous history of the space?

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Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors. 1111 Chicon St. 512-953-1061. figure8coffeepurveyors.com. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Wifi. Side street parking. Fairly quiet. There’s a tiny patio out back that is shady most of the day.

This small shop is smart. It focuses on freshly roasted coffee in a demure location across Chicon Street from Huston-Tillotson University. The furniture, arranged in a variety of manner, looks like postindustrial art. The interactions between baristas and regulars seem warm and genuine. The afternoon sun could be a problem for this west-facing spot, but the chairs are generally placed to avoid direct light and heat. Did we like the coffee? Very much. But we liked the relaxed atmosphere even more on our second visit. It’s going to become a regular meeting spot.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Northwest Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

 

 

Best coffee shops near North Austin

We extended our coffee search to Near North Austin recently and, although we got a good start on this sector in late 2017, we need your help in filling out the candidates. We’d gladly add to this list.

Contributed

Kick Butt Coffee. 5775 Airport Blvd. 512-454-5425. kickbuttcoffee.com. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.,  6 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.* Plenty of surface parking on site. Some of the music is live. Decaf, teas, chai. Some quiet spots in this big space.

We’ve always liked owner Thomas Gohring and his ambitions to create a singular community around coffee, booze, entertainment and, yes, martial arts. Gohring brings to the game a flair for showmanship, an element almost absent from any other coffee shop in town. He has expanded the size of his original location on Airport Boulevard while retracting his attempts to go global. A small stage, backed by his signature graphics, takes pride of place, but the long coffee bar attests to the original impulse to serve rigorously prepared espresso drinks along with food, beer and wine. As the ACC Highland project, as well as the Linc and other area redevelopments fire up, expect Kick Butt to thrive and retain its inimitable character. *The place opens and closes at odd times; we rounded up or down.

 

Contributed

Fat Cats Organic Coffee & Desserts. 7020 Easy Wind Dr. #140. 512-296-2960. fatcatsaustin.com. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Tues., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Shared surface parking. Decaff, teas, chai. Moderate music.

If you aren’t familiar with the moderately dense developments at North Lamar and Airport boulevards near the MetroRail Crestview Station, you might have a hard time locating Fat Cats. Here’s a clue: Turn west off North Lamar onto W. St. Johns Avenue, then left on the interior lane, Easy Wind Dr., and park just about anywhere. Then wander around the other local magnets, such as Vigalante Gastropub, Black Star Co-op and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. The bright, narrow, deep coffee shop attracts an assorted crowd, including very focused laptoppers. The owners, however, have gone a long way to ensure the taste and quality of the fair trade coffee drinks and vegan desserts and, oh, the ice cream. It’s worth looking up and paying attention.

Contributed

Brentwood Social House. 1601 W. Koenig Lane. 512-362-8656. brendwoodsocial.com.  7 a.m.-6 pm. Monday-Sunday. Surface parking off Arroyo Seco. Decaf, teas, chai. Very quiet.

We were quite surprised to learn about this comforting and popular Brentwood spot from a source for a completely unrelated story. The smallish house on busy Koenig probably started in the 1930s when this was on the edge of town, then was renovated in the 1950s or ’60s to give it a whimsical modernist twist. The owners, Suzanne Daniels and Sarah Olano, have made it all their own with well chosen colors and decor, including a capacious dog-friendly patio out back. Olano specializes in English pastries as well as French-inspired food — all worth trying. Daniels, among other things, makes sure service at the bar and elsewhere is prompt, courteous and knowledgeable. This was sort of a coffee house desert for a while, so we welcome the Social House with open arms. (We’ll also add it to our Burnet Road list.)

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

Best Austin coffee shops near Lavaca Street

For whatever reason, the western side of downtown is fertile ground for good coffee shops.

Jo’s Downtown. Laura Skelding/American-Statesman

Jo’s on Second. 242 W. Second St. 512-469-9003. josecoffee.com. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon-Fri., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf, teas, chai. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Despite the crowds, quiet corners.

How to improve on one of the city’s most innovative and persistently popular coffee shops — Jo’s on South Congress Avenue? Add very good comfort food and indoor seating at a second location downtown. For those who complain that the upscale Second Street District feels a little alien to Austin, Jo’s is the perfect antidote: Friendly, local and just funky enough. And a pioneer of downtown’s Great Streets program with its expanded sidewalks. At times the double line to the cashiers can get long, especially when a flock of tourists arrives wearing dazed but happy looks, but they’ve made a wise decision to try the salads, burgers, sandwiches and other offerings at this Jo’s, also a favorite of the City Hall crowd. The espresso-based drinks, with beans roasted by Stumptown, are well above average, but there are other options, including wine and beer.

Austin Java at City Hall. Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman

Austin Java. 301 W. Second St. 512-481-9400. austinjava.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Thurs. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Despite the whirling foot traffic, one can get work done here.

Jo’s or Java? That’s the luxurious choice at West Second and Lavaca streets: Two proven Austin coffee dispensers that double as cafés. This one juts out from the irregularly shaped Austin City Hall and counts a couple of dozen tables outside and inside. The counter is located just to the right of the main entrance — you can’t miss it. This iteration of the comforting local eatery group is a little less about the food, however, more about the beverages and the chance to sit down and cool your feet in the growing downtown hubbub. Outdoor seats, surrounded by regional geology and botany, are at a premium. As always, fairly good coffee, too.

Halcyon from West Forth Street. Contributed by Michael Knox

Halcyon. 218 W. Fourth St. 512-472-9637. hacyoncoffeebar.com. 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat.-Sun. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Quieter during the day, although even then the music can interfere with thinking or talking.

Many Austin coffee shops nowadays offer adult beverages, but few actually operate as bars and thrive as part of a busy nightclub district. Halcycon, which took the place of Ruta Maya at Lavaca and West Fourth streets, is there for you morning, noon or night. We sometimes run into trouble gaining the attention of the baristas/bartenders, but no wonder with the constant stream of guests seeking places at tables, on sofas or out on the seating raised above the street level. And luckily, almost anything one orders here is worth consuming. Compared to some of the newcomers to this district, Halcyon hangs onto its original funkiness, handed down in part by its predecessor Ruta Maya.

Contributed by Juan Pelota’s Cafe

Juan Pelota Café. 400 Nueces St. 512-473-0222. juanpelotacafe.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. -6 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Garage parking nearby, some street parking on good days. Decaf, teas, chai. Not really a workspace, more about food, drink and community.

Bear with me as we go back in history to when Lance Armstrong was the city’s second most famous celebrity after Willie Nelson and a busy downtown bike shop that included a small, but very popular coffee spot with a jokey name (look it up). The passage of time has altered Armstrong’s constellation in Austin’s social skies, but Mellow Johnny’s and Juan Pelota Café still anchor a robust cycling community. The café has expanded its footprint to include not only outdoor seating, but also a greater share of the interior space. Coffee was the original lure, but it’s now a place to bulk up on an expanded menu of healthy cuisine as well. The clientele is forbiddingly fit. Even folks clearly my age sport the tight figures, burnished skin and clear eyes of ridiculously good health. More power to ’em.

As always, if we missed your favorite spot in this district, let us know.

 

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Upper South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lower South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

BACKGROUND: Original 2007 Austin coffee shop series.

COMING IN 2018: Near North Austin, Central East Austin, Guadalupe Street, Manchaca Road, Northwest Austin, Far North Austin, Far East Austin, Far West Austin, Far South Austin, Hays County, Williamson County.

Need a jolt of coffee before heading to ACL?

You probably stayed up pretty late after the first day at Zilker Park for the ACL Music Festival. Although plenty of potable and edible treats await you on the Great Lawn, you can zing into action before you arrive.

BEST COFFEE SHOPS NEAR THE ACL FESTIVAL.

Apanas is a relatively new coffee and beer spot on South Congress Avenue. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Note that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on South Lamar Boulevard has closed.

 

Best Austin coffee shops near North Lamar Boulevard

If you toddling along North Lamar Boulevard, you’ve got a few choices for a coffee break and all that goes with it.

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Houndstooth on North Lamar Boulevard. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Houndstooth. 4200 N. Lamar Blvd. houndstoothcoffee.com. Open 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. Parking in a lot to the north, but limited. Good WiFi. Teas and chai. Decaf. Burbling music. Some seating outside on a terrace, but not ideal in the a.m.

This place might produce the very best coffee drinks in town. Their menu is actually pretty lean. Brewed coffee and espresso drinks. Teas and chai. Some pastries and nutrition bars. Bagged coffee beans and paraphernalia. This, the original location, is located in a upscale strip center underneath an office building that includes a Taco Deli and — nearby — Uchiko, two Austin faves. Several small tables wait outside, shaded a bit by a canopy. Inside are long and short tables with lots of customers at almost any time. In fact, it’s sometimes a chore to land a seat. Blonde wood, black modernist chairs, light brick and paint conspire to give the spot a streamlined feel at odds with the its tweedy name. Hipsters, students and folks in business drag sip shoulder to shoulder and can it get a little loud inside during peak traffic. I don’t know the secret for their great coffee, but I promise to keep asking.

MORE COFFEE: Best Austin coffee shops near South First Street.

Austin Java at North Lamar Boulevard and Parkway. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Austin Java. 1206 Parkway. (512) 476-1829. austinjava.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. Happy hours: 2 p.m. until close on weekdays, 6 p.m. until close on the weekends. Very limited onsite parking. Decaf and teas. Lively but not intrusive music. Quiet corners. Outside seating.

More of a hearty cafe than a coffee shop these days, the Austin Java trio started out on this very spot at the corner of North Lamar Boulevard and Parkway. And something about it harks back to an even older Austin. Scruffy tables and chairs sit  in neat rows inside a converted house, while a picnic areas offer outdoor seating. A heavy wooden bar and counter line the west wall and this can make a good perch if you are alone. The place draws an eclectic crowd, including students from Austin Community College uphill. There’s always a sizable mass on hand for lunch. The drink choices are numerous and include frappes, Italian sodas, smoothies, beer, espresso and coffee drinks, wine. The food encompasses comforting selections such as soups, sandwiches, toasts, quesadillas, wings, hummus and egg dishes. Menu divided between Breakfast and Lunch/Dinner selections. One odd offering: butter coffee bomb, purported to help you be healthy and productive.

MORE COFFEE: Best Austin coffee shops near South Congress Avenue.

Whole Foods on North Lamar Boulevard. Nick Wagner/American-Statesman

Whole Foods Market. 525 N. Lamar Blvd. (512) 476-1206. wholefoodsmarket.com. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Limited surface parking, much more in a busy underground garage. WiFi is free without a password, but your time is limited to 120 minutes. Decaf. Very noisy.

“Were you surprised by my simple order?” I asked the barista after several previous customers required elaborate help. I ordered a small decaf. “No,” he said. “I can’t hear you over this loud music.” He’s right: The music in Whole Foods food service area discourages conversation. The coffee bar is located to the right of the northwest entrance at a long, curved counter shared with the hopping juice bar. Despite the dozens of tables outside and in, it’s sometimes hard to find a place to sit. Brewed coffee? It’s behind you at a self-service counter. (Small decaf: $2. A deal!) Espresso drinks are constructed farther down the counter. Food? Are you kidding? It’s everywhere at the WF mother ship, recently acquired by tech giant Amazon. Nutrition bars are right there at the counter, but several usually packed cafes and a few acres of fresh and packaged food can be found down the busy aisles. Who is here? Who’s not? I recognized a couple of celebrities mixed in among folks in every manner of casual and business clothing.

MORE COFFEE: Best Austin coffee shops near Burnet Road.

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Starbucks. 4440 N. Lamar Blvd. (512) 374-9784. starbucks.com. Despite the large, shared parking lot, it’s still hard to find a slot at certain hours. And don’t try the highly regulated street parking. Decaf (pour-over and Americano at noon). Teas and chai. Harmless music. Some outdoor seating with umbrellas.

Some readers might wonder why we sample representative Starbucks locales as part of this series. Because, despite corporate conventions — or perhaps because of them — each outlet is different, if only because the people are different. And their roles in each neighborhood’s texture evolves over time. One Starbucks at North Lamar Boulevard and West Fifth Street, for instance, is too small for today’s traffic. So we concentrated this report on the outlet at North Lamar just south of West 45th. It’s is quite large, but for good reason. To one side, you have fashionable midcentury modern districts, on the other, large state facilities bookended by big developments at the Triangle and Central Park. This spot offers plenty of tables inside and out, as well as the now required laptop counters and cocktail tables. When traffic is high, four or five baristas churn out the orders. Clerestory windows keep this shop light even as the color scheme and decor trend to the dark end. This day I overheard a businessman making a pitch, a couple whispering sweet nothings, a bearded man working through some problems through a an earpiece, and a foursome of well-bundled workmen who might have come from the Northeast or Upper Midwest. All are welcome.

MORE COFFEE: Best Austin coffee shops near Lower South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE: Best Austin coffee shops near Upper South Lamar Boulevard.

NOTE ON THIS SERIES

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WAY MORE COFFEE: In 2007, we published a series titled “10,000 Coffee Shops.” We found only 100 around Austin, but it felt like 10,000. Our point back then: That in the 1980s, there had only been three such coffee spots here! How our culture had changed! We’re sure to count more than 200 during this new coffee run, started casually in 2016.

Aamil Sarfani aims for the Austin coffee ideal

Aamil Sarfani soaks up the burnished light at Radio Coffee & Beer, a popular hangout on Manchaca Road.

“They nailed the feel,” says the owner of Apanas Coffee & Beer, which opened at two locations in Austin during 2016. “It’s not too quiet. They offer both beer and coffee, similar to what we do. At 5 p.m., they turn the Wi-Fi off. The work day is over; time to hang out. We are too scared to do that.”

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Aamil Sarfani, owner of two Apanas coffee and beer shops in Austin, seated at Radio, one of his favorite established spots. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

He points to the lightly scuffed floors.

“No, I just love this place,” Sarfani says. “This is one of the reasons we did wood floors, too.”

RELATED: Nifty coffee shop Apanas opens at key spot on South Congress.

San Antonio-born-and-bred Sarfani, 24, grew up in an entrepreneurial Indian-American family before attending business school at Emory University in Atlanta.

In 2014, he signed up for a class that looked interesting: Social Enterprise in Nicaragua.

“We learned how businesses can do more than just profit from their revenue stream,” Sarfani says. “And the school already had partners down there.”

RELATED: Looking for Austin coffee shops near Burnet Road.

For the class, he stayed over at El Peten coffee farm on Lake Apanas, the namesake for his two Austin outlets.

“Every morning, I went down to the lake and took pictures,” he says. “I came back with really fond memories. And the owner of that farm made connections for me with other sources in Nicaragua.”

RELATED: Trying out Austin coffee shops near Upper South Lamar.

Sarfani learned that by sidestepping third parties through the direct trade model, he, as a retailer, not only could increase the farmer’s share of the revenue, he also could improve transparency and traceability of coffee bean origin and movement, something that not all “fair trade” coffee shops can do.

 

“I came back from the trip the year before senior year and expected to eventually start a business, but I didn’t expect to do so right out of college,” he says. “I had all the resources in hand. Talked to professors, created business plan. I was ready to do something that means more than making a quick buck.”

RELATED: Test these Austin coffee shops near Lower South Lamar.

Sarfani now imports two single-origin beans.

“One is natural processed, Los Piños, picked off the tree andleft in the cherry to increase its sweetness,” he says. “It’s a hard process to master, what with errors, low yield. If you do it right, the coffee comes out fantastic. The other is washed El Peten. We also have a drip coffee that’s a blend of bean from farms in the Los Robos community, and the money goes back to the town’s clinic.”

That echoes the efforts of Austin’s Farahani family, which funds Nicaraguan health care through its nonprofit Fara Coffees.

RELATED: Savor Austin coffee shops near South First Street.

Sarfani grew up “behind the register” from age 12 at his father’s gas stations and fast food restaurants. So it made sense to pitch his dad as an investor.

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Scott Jones at Apanas Coffee and Beer on South Congress Avenue. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

He opened his first coffee shop in January on Rock Rose in the Domain Northside. It’s a mid-sized spot at 1,800 square feet. There’s not a lot of competition in this giant retail district for this wide open and comfortable spot that is not surprisingly already attracting regulars.

In the fall, he opened the second Apanas in a 2,500 square-foot former sports medicine space on South Congress, where there is indeed heavy-hitting competition from Jo’s Coffee, Toms Roasting Co. and Mañana Coffee & Juice.

“We have felt that,” Sarfani admits. “I consult with my Dad. He stays out of my way, tells me what I could be doing, but lets me makes mistakes.”

RELATED: Sip from Austin coffee shops near South Congress Avenue.

Apanas also offers 20 types of draft beer, selected with the same Sarfani philosophy: “High quality in everything”

“We are lucky enough to sell handmade products,” Sarfani says. “Our beer buyer is home brewer too, so very knowledgeable.”

Food is not a focus at Apanas, but one can pick up Quack’s bakery items, Tyson’s Tacos, and Fricanos Deli sandwiches.

Sarfani did hang some modest-sized TV screens in Apanas, unusual for a coffee shop, but he insists they will never become a focal point, except perhaps during parties on game nights.

RELATED: The original 10,000 coffee shops story from 2007.

Besides Radio, Sarfani reveals some of his other preferred Austin coffee shop:

Dominican Joe: “I like what they are doing on the back end, supporting a Dominican Republic community.”

Seventh Flag: “Great community, good vibe, trying to create sense of welcome, home.”

Houndstooth: “A reputation for serving the best coffee in town, but sometimes you get the wrong barista. We are focusing on consistency.”

Best Austin coffee shops near Burnet Road

After perusing the coffee shops in South Central Austin — see links below — we headed up north to Burnet Road. One finds many parallels.

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Upper Crust Bakery. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Upper Crust Bakery. 4508 Burnet Road. 512-467-0102. uppercrustbakery.com. 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Sun. Limited onsite parking. Decaf (brewed), teas and chai. No discernible Wi-Fi. Either no music, or it’s very quiet.

The name says it all. Upper Crust has been among Austin’s best bakeries for decades. The main attraction is a long, bent counter filled with cakes, pies, cupcakes, Danishes, croissants, breads and other baked good. Guests stream by, then reach two almost always busy registers. But wait. Upper Crust also offers sandwiches, soups, tortillas, as well as espresso-based and drip coffee drinks.Worn wood chairs, tables, cabinets and shelves lend it a warm Old World feel. At certain times of day, an Old Austin crowd actually read print newspapers. Despite the high ceilings and hard surfaces, it’s quiet enough for the conversational arts. Juices, milk, pop supplement the lunch specials. Telling detail: Black and white pictures of staff at work through the years. This is an excellent place to pick up a special occasion cake, but I couldn’t pick up a Wi-Fi connection and, let’s face it, more attention is given to the baked goodness. Coffee drinks are more of an afterthought.

RELATED: Sip from Austin coffee shops near South Congress Avenue.

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Pacha Organic Café. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman.

Pacha Organic Café. 4618 Burnet Road. 512-420-8758. pachatx.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Limited onsite parking. Wi-Fi: “pachapublic. Passwrod: “pachalatte.” Decaf (pour-over or Americano), teas and chai. Perky music. Quiet spots possible.

We’ve long thought that Pacha serves some of the best coffee in town. Maybe it starts with the beans. Or the roasting. Whatever the secret, we’re regularly impressed. Bright colors, tiles, round and square tabletops amplify the Latin American atmosphere, where one can order from dozens of coffee drinks and a complement of teas, juices, mile, Italian sodas, smoothies and hot chocolate. A few tables and chairs are perched out back on a cute deck. Beer and wine are also available. The menu? Start with “always organic” eggs, milk, yogurts, fruit, vegetables, beef  and honey, all clearly sourced. The sign informs us: “No more tamales.” Breakfast specials might include pancakes, hash or french toast. There’s more: Quiche, salad, empanadas, tortas. Just as importantly, the place radiates soul, that hard to define quality that includes authenticity, worldly wisdom and joy.

RELATED: Test these Austin coffee shop near Lower South Lamar Boulevard.

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Monkey’s Nest. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Monkey Nest Coffee. 5353 Burnet Road. 512-505-8033. monkeynest coffee.com. Open 24 hours. Generous onsite parking. Password-free Wi-Fi. Decaf, teas. Moderately amplified music fills many a quiet corner

Boy, did the founders of this coffee shop fill a waiting niche. Before Lower Burnet Road took off to the tune of hundreds of new apartments and dozens of refilled and refined midcentury shopping centers, Monkey Nest packed its long, softly lighted space — angled to the street — with more tables than you’ll find in most other Austin coffee spots. On a winter Wednesday afternoon, almost every table was taken up by laptoppers using the password-free Wi-Fi. At the long, clearly organized counter, one lines up to order from a vast menu that includes espresso-based, French press and brewed coffee drinks, as well as teas, smoothies, pastries, soups, salads, pizza and sandwiches. Your name goes into the register, so when your order is ready, it’s as easy as listening for your call. Folks in business attire join the usual younger types that haunt coffee shops. Bonus: The coffee is actually good and, amazingly, it’s open 24 hours a day.

RELATED: Savor Austin coffee shops near South First Street.

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Genuine Joe Coffeehouse. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman.

Genuine Joe Coffeehouse. 2001 W. Anderson Lane. 512-220-1576. genuinejoecoffee.com. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Lots of onsite parking, but watch the signs. Password-free Wi-Fi. Decaf (Americano). Pleasant music and plenty of quiet.

This former northern Austin coffee outpost now feels comfortably central these days. First, there’s the funky, laid-back scene in a old commerical building, surrounded by a giant parking lot. Up front are stools and counters as well as unmatched tables and chairs. Out back is more like a lounge or a rumpus room. The main counter is bisected by the pastry displays and the whole service area is plastered with images and slogans. The place offers plenty of waters, sodas, juices and teas to back up the hot and cold coffee, as well as smoothies and a few lunch items. On a very cold day, there were plenty of spots to fill, but that meant more time with the extremely engaged barista. Among amazing things here are the prices. Low! A decaf cost me under $2, which made my usual dollar tip a 50 percent grace note. And that Americano decaf, served with an unforced smile, was darn good.

RELATED: Trying Austin coffee shops near Upper South Lamar Boulevard.

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RELATED: Our original 2007 Austin coffee shop series.