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

Inside Blonde Biscotti
Inside Blonde Biscotti Photo by Erika Kwee

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. - PHOTO BY GWENDOLYN KNAPP
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.

click to enlarge Luce Ave is a sleek, friendly spot. - PHOTO BY GWENDOLYN KNAPP
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. - PHOTO BY ERIKA KWEE
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.

click to enlarge Treat yourself before attempting to drive over to the Galleria. - PHOTO BY GWENDOLYN KNAPP
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. - PHOTO BY GWENDOLYN KNAPP
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 - PHOTO BY ERIKA KWEE
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.
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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.