AUSTIN, Texas — This city lives by an ethos meant to capture a place of oddities: Keep Austin Weird.
But it is also a place that has another undercurrent: Keep Austin Wired. This city’s coffee scene is among the most vibrant, most experimental in the country.
Houndstooth Coffee has a coffee julep. Cuvee has nitrogen cans of cold brew coffee. There are coffee trucks scattered around the city. Most coffee shops here also serve beer.
While here, I did a quick tour of some of the best coffee shops around (using, as usual, some of the handy guides that Sprudge puts together).
One of my favorites was Seventh Flag Coffee, with its wooden seats and a longhorn hanging on the wall. Once Over Coffee Bar is one of the more scenic, with a back deck that overlooks lush greenery. Hearing birds chirping and a creek gurgling is not a bad way to sip a macchiato.
Most innovative art inside a cappuccino went to Radio Coffee and Beer (it looked like a spider web of some sort). Flat Track Coffee has some of the most charm, located in a tiny shop behind a bookstore. Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors was among the most cozy shops. Caffe Medici was perhaps the most beautiful shop, almost reminiscent of Sightglass in San Francisco.
Houndstooth Coffee is one of the mainstays. Its coffee julep was too interesting to pass up . It involves a shot of espresso simple syrup, sparkling water, crushed ice, and a mint garnish. It was unique as a coffee drink, but went down easy. On a hot day, it was refreshing.
Cuvee Coffee is dominant here, with a lot of shops serving up its beans. It is also doing some interesting things with cold brew. Several spots offer it on tap, and for me that was the way to go (I also tried it in a can, but the taste seemed off). On tap — which I got at Stouthaus Coffee Pub — it was delicious in a way that I’ve never enjoyed cold coffee before. It was rich and milky and smooth. As one barista told me, it has a foamy head the same way that a pint of Guinness does.
The craft beer and the craft coffee movements have quite a bit in common (as we wrote about here). But there are few places where the two seem quite as intertwined. Almost every coffee shop in Austin that I went to also offered a wide-ranging beer menu (one of the most extensive seemed to be Wright Bros. Brew & Brew).
But the bottom line: If you like coffee, find a way to head to Austin. The place will manage to keep you both weird, and wired.Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.