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The Brew Crew

Austin's best new shops are elevating the art of coffee.

As any coffee fan will tell you, the best part of waking up certainly has nothing to do with a cup of Folgers. Like so much of our culinary culture, Austin’s coffee scene is abandoning the mass-produced beans of yesterday in favor of locally-roasted brew crafted by well-educated baristas. From Houndstooth to Thunderbird, Cafe Medici to Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, Austinites are never more than a stone’s throw away from a wonderful cup of joe. In 2014, Austin’s coffee scene exploded, adding more than a dozen new shops in as many months. We set out to find some of our favorite spaces to sip and socialize.

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Sa-Tén

Nestled in the bustling CANOPY studio complex on Springdale Road, Sa-Tén is a welcomed addition to this East Austin neighborhood. Serving up coffee from local roaster Casa Brasil, you certainly can’t go wrong with an Ohayo cappuccino—but the macchiato set is truly a delight. Since this is the brainchild of folks behind Komé and East Side King, the menu offers Japanese-inspired fare in addition to traditional pastries sourced from local bakeries. After your buzz gets going, stroll around the CANOPY complex and catch some of your favorite Austin artists in action with stops at Keith Kreeger Studios and Big Medium.

916 Springdale Rd.

Alta's Cafe

A true gem, Alta’s Cafe quietly sits on the shore of Lady Bird Lake just off the hike and bike trail in downtown Austin. An expansive patio offers panoramic views of the water and inside you will find savvy baristas serving up Blue Bottle Coffee and an impressive wine list. Opened by the same family behind People’s Rx, Alta’s places an emphasis on locally-sourced, healthful food options. While freshly-made smoothies and sandwiches cater to the workout crowd, those of us looking to indulge will find goodies from Austin institutions like Henri’s Cheese, Lick Ice Creams, East Side Pies and Easy Tiger bakery.

74 Trinity St.

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Patika

There was quite a bit of, pardon the pun, buzz when this celebrated downtown coffee trailer announced it was opening its first brick-and-mortar on South Lamar Boulevard. Since June, Patika (which we learned is pronounced pat-eh-ka, something we’ve been saying incorrectly for years), has been wowing customers with its coffee concoctions, celebrated wine and beer list and house-made baked goods by Pastry Chef Bria Jones. The original mid-century storefront pays homage to the neighborhood aesthetic, but the inside is clean and modern. Attention to detail is critical, says co-owner Andy Wigginton, who points to friendly, well-trained baristas and an impeccably-designed space as the reason patrons have flocked to this modern, yet cozy spot.

2159 South Lamar Blvd.

Beware Coffee

Located in front of Spider House Cafe, Beware Coffee is a tiny trailer serving up a big menu. Picnic tables allow patrons to sit and enjoy their coffee outdoors, or take it to go and stroll around nearby Hemphill Park. When the weather heats up (or we just don’t feel like making coffee at home), we swing by for one of Beware’s delicious cold brews. If you are in the mood for something a little more conventional, Beware—and its darling owners—are unpretentious and non-judgmental, so go ahead and order that mocha latte.

2908 Fruth St.

Cuvee Coffee Bar

Let’s just get this out of the way: Cuvee Coffee Bar does not have WiFi. Since opening a few months ago, patrons have been surprised by the coffee shop’s decision to stay offline, a decision that owners say is to support a communal atmosphere. So while customers may not be able to check Facebook, they can check out one of the best coffee roasters in Austin. There is a reason that Cuvee is served in many of Austin’s premier coffee shops: It’s just that good. Our recommendation is let the barista be your guide at the East Sixth Street flagship, which is housed in an industrial space turned retail hub. While you’re there, heed the shop’s advice, leave the phone in your pocket and just enjoy the buzz.

2000 East 6th St.

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Seventh Flag Coffee Co.

Walking into this South First bungalow, patrons are greeted with a banner that reads, “Our Country of Friends.” Though less fastidiously designed as some of the other new shops, Seventh Flag knows what it’s doing when it comes to coffee. These bearded baristas pull a mean shot of espresso and have the institutional knowledge to back it up. (They also don’t make you feel silly for asking why you’re getting a palette cleanser with your espresso.) Enjoy your brew in the stark but comfortable interior, or head to a picnic table outside for prime people watching locale.

1506 South 1st St

Stouthaus Coffee Pub

Together with its next door neighbor St. Philip Pizza Parlor + Bakeshop, Stouthaus Coffee Pub is adding a much needed jolt to Sunset Valley’s dining scene. Owner James Hughes spent time in Europe growing up, and his sensibilities have certainly influenced the space which is outfitted with communal tables, high ceilings and a rotating selection of beers on tap. Grab a seat on the the small—but inviting—patio or head inside to grab a spot at the “stammtisch” table. Monthly pint nights, live music and other special events transform this from a coffee shop into a space for the community to gather together.

4715 South Lamar Blvd.

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Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors

A new addition to Chicon Street, Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors is destined to become your next favorite coffee shop. Talented baristas serve up Texas-based Tweed Coffee Roasters, and the espresso drinks usually come with a special treat, (last time we went, our cortado was served up with a Rolo). Come early to score a Tacodeli breakfast taco and spend your morning watching an endless parade of Austin’s cool and hip. Though thoughtfully designed and industrial in style, Figure 8 is warm and friendly, so sidle up to your neighbor and strike up a conversation.

1111 Chicon St.

Radio Coffee & Beer

While the expansive outdoor patios, which are covered in part by sun shades and ancient live oaks, are decidedly Austin in feel, the inside of Radio Coffee & Beer transports you to a cozy ski chalet. As the name suggests, both the coffee program and the beer list are top notch at this South Austin joint. Enjoy live music and a rotating selection of artwork (our last visit was spent fawning over the beautiful photography exhibit). In addition to the traditional bakery fare from nearby Moonlight Bakery and People’s Rx, head outside to Veracruz All Natural and order up one of the best tacos in town.

4208 Manchaca Rd.

Sister Coffee

Housed in a darling little trailer, Sister Coffee proves that small is indeed mighty and has morphed into a destination spot for coffee fiends since opening in early 2014. Blue Bottle Coffee, the California-based roaster with a cult-like following, is the bean of choice, and the baristas have impressive pedigrees that include Flat Track Coffee and Frank. Though it has since moved on from the Rosewood Avenue spot it shared with Micklewaite Craft Meats, the owners promise that it will be back and brewing in 2015.

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