For most of us, our day hasn't started until we take our first sip of coffee in the morning. America seriously runs on this stuff. No wonder people call it "liquid gold."
Gone are the days where Starbucks is the end-all-be-all place to grab a cup of Joe, especially in Houston. This city is beyond blessed with its selection of local coffee shops. And even though they are all serving the same thing -- coffee -- no two coffeehouses are the same. Some are better for sitting and chatting with friends while sipping on a specially-made flavored latte; others are more conducive to a quick on-the-go coffee run; some roast their own beans; others enhance their coffees with a selection of house-made pastries.
Because there are so many coffee shops in Houston, we wanted to be of assistance to you, dear readers, and help you narrow your choices down when you're in need of some caffeine. Here are the ten best places for coffee in the Bayou City.
10. The Nook Cafe The fairly new coffee shop on campus at UH is not just for college students. Sure, you'll typically find several students studying or writing papers, but it creates a relaxing and calm atmosphere you desire from any coffee shop. Upon walking inside The Nook Cafe, you'll instantly see a display case with cakes, muffins and cookies, all from local bakeries; listen to your stomach and order one of those treats. You honestly can't go wrong with a pumpkin cream cheese muffin from Sinfull Bakery paired with a creamy cappuccino topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It all comes together to create one heck of a fall-flavored snack. Keep it simple with a cortado, or amp up the sweetness with a sugary frappe or latte, like the s'mores latte.
9. Revival Market What's not to love about Revival Market? Not only does this Heights cafe/market offer some of the best locally-sourced grocery items along with a splendid offering of sandwiches, soups and breakfast items, but it's also got an awesome coffee bar. Craving something sweet? Opt for the vanilla latte. It's got an excellent balance of sweet vanilla syrup and bright coffee; initially your taste buds light up from the sugary vanilla, then are mellowed by the smooth coffee. And you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't pair your coffee with a pastry, biscotti or one of Fluff Bake Bar's macarons.
8. Paper Co. Coffee Paper Co. Coffee is a recent addition to the Houston coffee scene. The expansive shop is tucked away in the sixth ward and is making some of the best chai tea lattes around town. If you're looking for a quiet place to work on your laptop, read a book or simply sit in peace, then you need to get to Paper Co. Coffee ASAP. Friendly smiles from baristas welcome you as you walk through the bright blue door to enter what is basically a giant warehouse. But, back to the chai tea lattes. As soon as you remove the lid, you're hit with the sweet smells of Christmas -- cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg and, of course, sugar. It's smooth, creamy and warms you up with each sip.
7. Antidote/Black Hole (tie) Antidote and Black Hole are sister coffee shops, and both offer awesome sweet treats paired with great coffee concoctions, like the cajeta latte made with sweetened goat's milk; it's a nutty caramel drink with just the right amount of sweetness. Enhance it with a cupcake at Black Hole or a slice of cake at Antidote, delivered straight from Black Hole's kitchen.
6. Agora Agora is a staple coffee spot in Montrose. Sit outside on the small patio, downstairs in one of the comfy couches or upstairs overlooking the entire coffee shop. Indulge your sweet tooth with a granita, basically like a Starbucks frappuccino but way better. The mixture of espresso with chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream is addictive and a great late-night indulgence. Of course, mainstays like cappuccinos and lattes, often served with a small cookie and brown sugar cube, are always great choices when you want to sit and linger over something warm and caffeinated.
5. Southside Espresso The parking situation at Southside Espresso might suck, but the coffee drinks sure don't. With the cooler weather approaching, the outside patio is even more inviting. We recommend relaxing with a cortado, espresso with a touch of steamed, smooth milk. Southside makes some of the best in town. The Westheimer coffee shop is also open late, so if you're looking for after-dinner plans, stop by Southside.
4. Siphon Coffee Siphon Coffee opened this summer and it's already become a fan-favorite of coffee fanatics. Even though the Siphon for one or two is the coffee shop's signature item, it's certainly not the only thing you'll enjoy. From creamy lattes topped with fluffy milk foam to slightly bitter, yet smooth americanos, Siphon Coffee delivers on all ends -- especially with the food offerings, like the savory empanadas. You know your order is ready when the scent of fried dough protrudes from the kitchen.
3. Blacksmith Blacksmith never fails to create an awesome cup of coffee. Whether it's a simple brew of the day or a fancy latte featuring a beautiful milk foam swirl, it's going to be good. There's not much room to sit inside the coffee shop, but now that the temperatures are starting to drop, the outside patio is a nice place to dunk a biscotti in your cappuccino while relaxing with a book or chatting with friends. But, it's not just about the coffee at Blacksmith; the food options are perfect companions to your morning Joe, like the biscuits with crème fraiche and marmalade, or the Vietnamese steak and eggs for breakfast/brunch.
2. Catalina Coffee What is there to say about Catalina Coffee that has never been said? This go-to Washington Avenue coffee shop always delivers on perfectly executed coffee drinks, be it a flavored latte with an artistic finish, or a Gold Cup brew that will make you never choose simple drip coffee ever again. The baristas at Catalina take great pride in the products that they create; nothing is sloppy; everything is spot on. While it can be packed on the weekends and early in the morning on weekdays, Catalina is still a classic neighborhood establishment you must visit.
1. Boomtown/The Honeymoon (tie) Boomtown owner Matt Toomey recently opened The Honeymoon downtown on Main and the same coffee is served at both establishments. While Boomtown focuses on excellent espressos and coffee concoctions, such as the iced mocha toddy, salted caramel latte and traditional cappuccino, The Honeymoon enhances that same coffee program with more food and libations. Sit back with a flat white or creamy latte in the morning, paired with a BLT croissant. Or spend the evening snacking on a meat and cheese board while sipping on a French 75 or coffee-based cocktail, such as the Friday Morning with Jamaican rum, Campari and drip coffee.