For those who plan to spend their trip to South by Southwest—or any trip to Austin, really—staying up late and, maybe, possibly, consuming lots of tacos and booze: a solid morning (or afternoon or even evening) coffee is going to be of the utmost importance. Thus, we offer a quick guide to some of the finest cafes in this land of sensory indulgence. Austin locals and regular visitors will have their favorites, of course—whether it's people-watching at Jo's, nestling in with a book at Caffe Medici or any number of other shops. But you've only got so much time to drink coffee, right? Here's where we'd go first.
Cuvee Coffee at Salt and Time
In keeping with an Austin theme (see: Frank, below) of mixing coffee and...meat...comes Austin's newest elite coffee stop, and regional roaster Cuvee's first ever retail location, inside butcher and salumeria Salt and Time. The integrated cafe (let's stop saying pop-up, shall we?—especially in a city where so very many people eat off of a truck) features a La Marzocco Strada and a curated selection of offerings, masterminded by local uber-barista Lorenzo Perkins.
A little further out in the North Lamar neighborhood is Houndstooth Coffee, a relatively spacious cafe whose friendly charms tone down the strip-mall vibe (at least it's a gourmet strip mall.) Houndstooth is multi-method and multi-roaster, which means that alongside regular roasters (like Cuvee, Intelligentsia, etc.) they bring in guest coffees all the time, and are eager to prepare them for you on a variety of brewing devices. What could go wrong? (A downtown Houndstooth—in a bank tower—is slated to open any minute now.)
Once Over Coffee
Few lazy afternoons in Austin could be better spent than at the Once Over, a mellow South Congress area cafe whose back deck allows the mind to slip far, far away...or at least out of the bar scene for just a minute. Serving Cuvee coffee in a wholly unpretentious setting, with warm and friendly service, it's hard not to like nearly everything about the Once Over. Did we mention there's a taco truck parked outside?
For those who prefer a little handcrafted sausage with their coffee is Frank, a local sausage/beer hall/video arcade/espresso bar, wait, did I lose you somewhere? They also have a dance party. Featuring coffee on V60 pourover as well as espresso, this fancy hot dog stand serves beans from LA roasters Handsome Coffee, preparing some of the best coffee in Austin and certainly downtown. A side of vegan chili-cheese fries or waffle poutine is totally optional.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop this spring.