The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Coffee Shops
The last time we compiled a list of Houston's best coffee houses was in February 2011, and things have certainly changed since then.
Photo by emmiegrn The Pig Stand may not be around anymore, but these great spots are.
In just the last several months, Houston's caffeine scene has benefited from several new entrants, all of which are determined to raise the city's coffee profile just as our bar and restaurant profiles have both been raised in the past year.
What makes a great coffee shop? It's not just the brews. The quality of product is important, of course, but so is the atmosphere (the physical feel of the space) and overall vibe (the emotional connection -- do you feel welcome there?). Personally, I don't consider wi-fi as a determining factor although some may disagree. Coffee shops should not be expected to do double duty as your living room or home office. That said, several of the shops on this list do actively encourage patrons to hunker down and stay awhile, starting with the No. 10 pick.
These two very different coffee shops share one thing in common: a downtown address. Minuti Coffee in the Rice Hotel is the epitome of the small, easily accessed coffee shop that I wish were more prevalent downtown. The coffee selection is diverse enough to cater to all crowds, the staff is friendly and laid back but their speed gets you in and out and back to work quickly. Ben's Beans, across the street from the House of Blues, is massive. A large, quiet back room is practically custom-made for studying, and you'll often find South Texas law students sprawled out as a result. In fact, the overall feel is less coffee shop, more student union building. Both shops also offer free wi-fi.
The only thing I don't like about Bohemeo's is that it's not in my immediate neighborhood. Lucky East Enders and University of Houston students are, however, in close proximity to this little jewel. I'm a sucker for a pourover here along with a sweet potato bar (imagine a brownie made with sweet potatoes), especially on nights when there's live music on the patio and a breeze. Those who crave sweeter drinks will love Bohemeo's mochachino, a grown-up version of the old Starbucks favorite. Doshi House is a lot like Bohemeo's: the only coffee shop in the neighborhood (the Third Ward, in this case), but offers a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan fare along with fresh-squeezed juices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
These two Montrose coffee shops feature everything a neighborhood resident could want in a coffee shop: plenty of comfortable seating, food from local vendors such as Michael's Cookie Jar and Radical Eats, welcoming patios and free wi-fi. Both also conveniently feature evening hours, for those nighttime coffee cravings that can't be satisfied at places like Blacksmith or Catalina. Black Hole is a popular haunt for St. Thomas students doing laundry next door and studying, while Inversion draws a diverse crowd and a rotating slate of food trucks during breakfast and lunch. Try the 24-hour cold brewed coffee at Inversion for something sweet but light, and refreshing on a muggy day.