“Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.” – Fran Drescher
Isn’t that the truth? Does anything wake you up better than the smell of coffee brewing in the morning? Coffee smells cozy. It smells inviting. It smells homey. It whispers from the aroma-cloud hovering over your pillow, “Wake, oh gorgeous thing. The day has dawned.” (or something like that) Mmmmm. I love coffee.
When we moved to Austin, our son became a coffee snob.
Granted, he was a part-time barista after school and on the weekends. I guess that was enough to send him over the edge. If I mentioned Starbucks in public, he snubbed his nose and seemed embarrassed, like maybe I was from the backwoods where they brew coffee in some kind of “still.”
“Mom,” he said, “you’ve got to broaden your horizons. You can still like Starbucks, but you need to try some different stuff.” So, I accepted the challenge, made a list of shops to try, and I decided to have fun with it here on my blog by having a giveaway.
So, without further adieu – here’s the where, the what, the when and the why. Read to the end for the “who.”
Starbucks – Pumpkin Spice Latte – day trip to San Antonio with kids – it was almost fall
Alta’s – Nola Iced Coffee – one Saturday morning – view of Lady Bird Lake
Houndstooth – Black Pour Over – one Monday morning before work – the barista told me to
Fleet – Saturday Morning Ritual – day trip to Waco – recommended
Texas Coffee Traders – Black Pour Over/Cherry – 2nd cup on day trip to Waco – recommended
Royal Blue Grocery – Mocha – one Friday morning before work – because I love Royal Blue everything
Caffe Medici – Hortada – one Sunday morning – they had electricity & we didn’t
Blue Dahlia – Cappuccino – Friday night with friends – conversation
Halcyon – Espresso Shake – after walk to Trader Joe’s – its reputation
Jo’s – Decaf Cappuccino – one evening after work – on a whim
Austin Java – Honey Nut Latte – one Saturday morning – its reputation
Quack’s – Black – with dessert – one evening after dinner – first Austin coffeehouse!
Man, oh, man, was this ever a lot of fun! I visited 12 coffee spots, and I assure you I could have kept going and going. In fact, I probably will.
Every time I went into a shop, I asked what they were known for, and if it was my only chance to be in their shop, what should I order? Some of the baristas were so passionate about the coffee, they looked like they were going to cry at the prospect of my poor self only having a one-time “shot” at their specialty.
Every barista gave great customer service, and I truly mean that, but the barista at Houndstooth edged out in front of the pack with her easy conversational way, her calm demeanor and her genuine smile. She encouraged me to try a pour-over and then visited with me about it as I sat at the bar and watched her make it. And you know what? That was a delicious cup of coffee.
Another clear winner was Texas Coffee Traders – for the pure experience they offer. Every cup of coffee is either $2 or $3. While you’re sipping the special brew, you will be personally attended by one of their long-time employees. It’s a personalized Coffee 101 course, and you’ll leave wanting more. If you want to learn about coffee, this is where to go. This year, they will have roasted their millionth pound of coffee beans. Ease on over some Saturday morning to the East Side, have a great cup of coffee and learn about coffee roasting. You can even order your own special blend of coffee beans from their vast selection. (Also, they’re the only espresso equipment repair shop for miles and miles around.) Loved this place!
Best place to watch the world go by:
Austin Java on W. 2nd.
The best thing I’d never tried before was the espresso shake at Halcyon. One evening, we walked to Trader’s Joe’s, then rewarded ourselves on the way back by stopping in at this shop made famous by millennial first-daters who go for the s’mores. Maybe the s’mores are as good as that shake, but I can’t imagine. It was so, so good.
Most interesting people I met?
Without a doubt, the two policemen at Jo’s. (More on them in a future post.)
Best black coffee and dessert:
Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, which also claims to be Austin’s first coffeehouse.
Best place to drink coffee and count your blessings:
Alta’s on Lady Bird Lake
Best coffee for the road:
Starbucks anything Venti-sized
I’ve been looking forward to National Coffee Day for a whole month, because – drum roll please – I’ve been looking forward to my first giveaway. So many of you have been reading my blog, commenting and sharing the posts. Thank you! I’ll do another giveaway soon, so stay tuned. But for now…
It’s finally here, and the winner is …. Tina Moore Ashby. Yay, Tina! Thanks for sharing a post from my blog. Enjoy your gift!
There’s a bag of Texas Pecan from Austin Java, a bag of Madcap from Fleet, a sleeve of Molasses clove cookies, a package of mints from Royal Blue Grocery, and a Starbucks gift card!
And because I wish I could have given everyone a $5 Starbucks card, I pulled another name out of the cup.
Kayla Ziegenbein, enjoy a pumpkin spice latte on me!
Encouraging intentional adventure as soon as you wake up, you gorgeous thing,
PS – Have you tried a new coffee drink or coffee shop lately?