Houston's New Coffee Shops: Which One Is Right For You?

In terms of trends, 2017 has pretty much been designated the year of poke here in Houston, but maybe it's time to reconsider? Everywhere you look coffee shops are popping up around the city with an emphasis on quality brews and stylish digs. Perhaps it's not really a trend, but these coffee shops seem to bring a little bit more to the table than your typical neighborhood caffeine haunt. 

There's a little something for all types of coffee lovers, whether you need a quick joe to go, want to set up your laptop for hours on end. Even if you want to hang out with cats, help feed the homeless, or just indulge in a casual/swanky/chic/easy weekday breakfast or midweek happy hour, these coffee shops seem to do it all.

What happens in Cavo stays in Cavo.
What happens in Cavo stays in Cavo.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Cavo, 3773 Richmond

Located on the ground floor of the Regions Financial Center in the bustling Greenway Plaza, this upscale coffee shop comes from the co-owner of Siphon Coffee, Michael Caplan, featuring Amaya coffee, Portland's Heart Roasters and more artisan pours, plus beer and wine (including a weekday happy hour from 2 to 7 p.m. and bottomless brunch mimosas on the weekend). The food menu includes breakfast sandwiches and tacos, avocado toast on breads sourced from Cake & Bacon and elsewhere, along with scones, pastries, and lots of healthy grab and go options. The stylish space offers lots of lounge-style and hightop seating and tables outside as well, making this a great spot for both morning time out-of-office meetings and post-work meet ups.

Luce Ave is a sleek, friendly spot.
Luce Ave is a sleek, friendly spot.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Luce Ave Coffee, 3995 Richmond Avenue, Suite A

Right up the street from Cavo is brand new Luce Ave, which has been open for only a couple weeks, serving the Greenway area.   Easy parking and friendly staff make this spot an ease for pre-work caffeination if you're in the area, and the drinks go beyond just coffee, which is roasted in house, and espresso options with juice and smoothies, teas, and even an affogato. White leather seating at a high top bar, or at tables that line the shop's slender interior make this a spot you can camp out for some low-key laptop time or a meeting as well.

Suits and ties for days.
Suits and ties for days.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Prelude, 609 Main

This is a chic new coffee shop for the Downtown crowd, from the highly regarded coffee masterminds behind Morningstar and Blacksmith. Here you'll find Morningstar's terrific doughnuts, biscuits, and $5 breakfast specials, as well as some of the best coffee and espresso drinks in the city.  Press contributor Erika Kwee highly recommends the matcha sua da (green tea Vietnamese iced coffee) and the spice-forward turmeric chai.

Treat yourself before attempting to drive over to the Galleria.
Treat yourself before attempting to drive over to the Galleria.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Merchant, 1707 Post Oak

Straight from New Orleans' Central Business District comes this refined, but casual coffee shop and creperie Uptown. With its clean white table tops and counters, red bar stools, and pop of fresh green apples on the walls, this cafe can lift the spirits of anyone who has been waiting in traffic near the Galleria.  The shop features Illy espresso drinks, and the vibe here is pretty chill ie. it's a great place to also park with the laptop or catch up with a colleague while noshing on some light breakfast or lunch fare.

Once you taste the sea salt coffee, you will undoubtedly crave it.
Once you taste the sea salt coffee, you will undoubtedly crave it.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

85 C Bakery Cafe,  1027 Blalock, 9750 Bellaire

With locations in both Chinatown and Spring Branch, the "Starbucks of Taiwan," which is actually more of an incredible bakery with cases full of grab-and-go pastry including the signature marbled taro bread and exceptional Portugese egg tarts, also features an array of both classic style espresso drinks and wilder beverage options. The Sea Salt coffee drinks are what this spot is known for (try one iced) with their salty, creamy, kitshy appeal. There's also an assortment of calorie-packed boba options certain to delight the youths, which makes this a formidable hang-sesh spot for teens and families alike.

Inside Blonde Biscotti
Inside Blonde Biscotti
Photo by Erika Kwee

Blonde Biscotti, 1000 West Gray

Unlike the 100-count hard-as-a-rock biscotti that Mother used to pick up at Sam's Club for pairing with Folger's finest, the biscotti at this new Montrose coffee and bakery are large, dense and soft.  Owners Toni Cordasco and Lisa Richardson offer macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites done right, along with basic coffee and tea drinks and weekend brunch delights, from jumbo French toast muffins and cinnamon roll muffins to crepes and liege waffles.  This is a chill weekend morning spot for those who want to do brunch, but also kind of hate the brunch scene.

This tiny coffee counter is big on flavor.
This tiny coffee counter is big on flavor.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Retrospect, 3704 La Branch

Community College students and Midtown residents are making this tiny new coffee shop with lots of outdoor space their go to hub for morning and evening chillaxation time.  There's not really seating inside, so friends head out back, where gurgling eco-friendly fountains and picnic tables line the fenced-in yard which abuts Axelrad. There's also a quiet covered patio up front, and a menu features loads of crepes.

Harley hanging with coffee and treats, before he was adopted and moved to his fur-ever home.
Harley hanging with coffee and treats, before he was adopted and moved to his fur-ever home.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

El Gato Coffeehouse, 508 Pecore, Suite A

Cat fanatics head to this new Heights coffeehouse (a separate coffee shop will be located in a building out front and is still forthcoming), where cats prowl above, below and on the tables and are all up for adoption, thanks to a partnership with the Humane Society. Reservations must be made online and there's a $12 entry fee per hour. Yoga, movie and game nights, and more community events, take place all week long and since its opening in early 2017, more than 50 cat adoptions have been made thanks to this cat cafe.

Throughgood Coffee, 732 W 27th

If doing good is your modus operandi, heading to this Heights coffee should be in the plans. Here you'll find coffee drinks featuring Amaya Roasters, doughnuts from Morningstar, and more light a.m. noshes. Plus, a portion of all revenue goes to supporting two local charities that help the homeless, Bread of Life and Temenos Housing.  The coffeeshop was founded by pastor Rudy Rasmus, who is more commonly known as Beyonce Knowles' spiritual advisor.

Avid has been parking in Garden Oaks and the Heights.
Avid has been parking in Garden Oaks and the Heights.
Photo courtesy of Avid Coffee Co.

Avid Coffee, Garden Oaks

At this newly launched truck that parks in Garden Oaks and the Heights, roaster Matthew McKenzie pours coffee from Sumatra with sweet notes and herbal complexities, from the Provence of Yunan with its rich, almondy flavors, and from Honduras, which McKenzie normally uses for espresso drinks. That bean specifically is from "a farm run by Americans who also run an orphanage off the farm and use the proceeds to run the orphanage."

With that in mind, McKenzie says that the truck operates primarily to support these farmers and communities, rather than making a profit. Brewed coffee is $2.50 for regular (12 ounces), $3 for large (20 ounces). Lattes are $3.75 regular and $4.50 for large. There are also smoothies and tea available.

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