Get Your Caffeine Fix Without the Heat

I've always hated the phrase "movers and shakers," but if applied literally, it's an accurate description of our city right now. With locals running around town implacably, outpacing frequent mentions from national publications (which have taken to calling us the new "it" city), it's easy to forget that Southerners are said to keep a leisurely gait.

Blame it on highly addictive frozen and iced forms of caffeine, without which many of us would cede to summer's oppressive heat and humidity. As luck would have it, getting your caffeine fix is becoming more convenient and more interesting.

Although there are plenty of consistently good warm classics -- such as the Valrhona mocha at Blacksmith, a cortado at Southside Espresso or pretty much anything at Catalina Coffee -- there are other less-known, summer-friendly takes on coffee that even the most devout purist would enjoy.

Undertow at Tiny Boxwood's

You'd be hard-pressed to find a Tiny's fan who doesn't immediately mention the popular chocolate chip cookies at this tiny nursery-turned-cafe. But for me, it's mostly the Undertow that could justify waiting in the long Sunday brunch line.

Warm layers of java and cooled cream create a beige to brown ombré design in a small highball glass. Those layers then fold into each other as you sip, becoming progressively cooler and sweeter, until you're left with one last, sugary slurp of creamy coffee. Fair warning: Don't take a spoon to that glass, or you'll look like a novice.

Cajeta latte at Black Hole and Antidote

For many Mexican households, cajeta is the equivalent of Nutella. Consumed almost impiously, this syrup-spread hybrid is smeared or poured onto anything that can stand up to its weight. Montrose coffee shop Black Hole and its sister shop in the Heights, Antidote, know all about this caramel-like ingredient. The cajeta latte is one of their best-selling drinks, hot or cold. Now that both Black Hole and Antidote sell their cold-brewed coffee in to-go containers, you can make your own latte at home without worrying about being caught licking the extra (always use extra) cajeta directly from the glass.

Vietnamese iced coffee at Les Givrals Kahve

I'd be remiss not to mention Vietnamese coffee in Houston, given this city's rich profusion of quality Vietnamese fare. And if I'm craving banh mi, it almost goes without saying that I'll be eating my sandwich while thick, dark Café du Monde trickles from the drip filter into a generous amount of ice and condensed milk. The ratio of condensed milk to actual coffee makes this drink more of an iced treat than an effective caffeine fix, but the concentrated coffee will ensure that your drink isn't overbearingly sweet.

Affogato at Eatsie Boys Café

With the Montrose eatery's matzah ball pho and sticky bun sandwiches taking the spotlight at the Boys' café, many often forget their Frozen Awesome ice cream line. It's sold around town -- Paulie's features it as a part of their regular menu -- and comes in tasty, off-beat flavors.

That might be why their affogato is especially addictive; because you can ask for their popular Shipley's ice cream with your shot of espresso. The contrast between the smoky, milky shot and the super-sweet firm ice cream will satisfy your sweet tooth while waking you up after a Sabotage or pint of the Boys' new brewery 8th Wonder's Hopston.

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Darla Guillen