The 10 Best Coffee Shops in Houston

Categories: Caffeine, Top 10

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Where in Houston can you get a frothy cappuccino like this one?
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.

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The Gold Cup at Catalina Coffee: Single Cup, Hand-Brewed for You

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Photo by Molly Dunn
The Gold Cup at Catalina is a crisp, refreshing cup of coffee.
Catalina Coffee is an excellent place to relax, sip on your choice drink and nibble on a pastry. The calming environment of hipster baristas throwing together lattes, espressos and cappuccinos like it is second nature makes your visits to Catalina on Washington worthwhile. While the folks behind the counter know how to make a killer latte decked out with beautiful artistic designs with the milk, they also know how to serve up an incredible single-cup brew, the Gold Cup.

Last year, the slow bar French Press was a personal favorite, but the Gold Cup brew has taken its place. Catalina has only had this machine for about three or four months.

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Get the Buttermilk Biscuits at Bosta Coffee & Wine

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Sit at the circular coffee bar at Bosta to watch baristas make your drink.
Bosta Coffee & Wine opened its doors a couple of weeks ago in the quiet Museum District. By day, it's a coffee shop, but by night it serves up wine, beer and sophisticated bar snacks. The coffee beans are provided by Greenway Coffee & Tea (so you know what's being served is top notch); the food offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner were crafted by executive chef Justin Basye, and pastries come from the great mind of pastry chef Chris Leung.

The white interior walls shine through the tall glass windows facing Binz Street. As you step inside, you're greeted with expansive ceilings and a circular, centrally-located bar. Even in the early hours of a Monday morning, the barista was cheery and welcoming.

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Siphon Coffee: My New Happy Place for Coffee

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Photo by Mai Pham
A barista in the process of brewing two siphon coffees.

It didn't take long for me to become a fan of Siphon Coffee, the new coffee shop on West Alabama, just east of Montrose. It didn't matter that there were no seats when I arrived on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. I didn't even have to order their signature siphon coffee for it to become my new "it" coffee house.

When I took a sip of my latte, with its not-so-precisely designed latte art design (the baristas can use some practice perfecting this part of their craft), the creamy latte exhibited that great depth of flavor that you can only get at an artisanal coffee house that pays attention to the finer details. The temperature was correct; the milky foam (they use local dairy purveyor Mill King) displaying a good density and fluffiness; the color, that rich mahogany brown that tells me even before I take my first sip, that the coffee will be just as I like it.

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Coffee & Mini Desserts at Happy Fatz

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Sitting outside on the patio at Happy Fatz with coffee and desserts is the way to go.
Just around the corner from Revival Market on White Oak, you will find an adorable house serving hot dogs, sweets and coffee concoctions. Yes, I am talking about Happy Fatz.

Heights residents and many Houstonians are familiar with this cafe's interesting hot dog creations -- it received the No. 10 spot on our list of best hot dogs in late 2011. Katharine Shilcutt praised Happy Fatz for its all-beef dogs topped with an array of ingredients, such as the Clucker smothered in hash browns, onions, bacon, a fried egg and hot sauce on a challah bun.

During my first visit to Happy Fatz, I fully intended to buy a hot dog, especially because my dining companion and I were starving after driving for three hours with the roof off of my Jeep -- being in the scorching hot sun wiped us out. But, one whiff of the freshly brewed Katz Coffee and a peek at the display case filled with cheesecakes, cupcakes, cakes and cake balls, my cravings switched from savory to sweet. But, that's the beauty of Happy Fatz, you can have something sweet, something savory or both.

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Paper Co. Coffee: Where Have You Been All My Life?

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Walk through this blue door to enter one of the best new coffee shops in Houston.
It's no secret that I love coffee. The second a new coffee shop (or coffee truck) opens, I'm all over it. Although Houston has many many places to grab a traditional espresso-based drink, or a creative concoction with a variety of syrups, no two are the same. Each shop has its own atmosphere, vibe, coffee drinks and selections of food.

If you want a funky latte or mocha, go to Inversion. If you're craving a perfect espresso and filling breakfast, go to Blacksmith (the Vietnamese steak and eggs, and biscuits with creme fraiche are out of this world). If you're searching for a chill place to sip on coffee, wine or beer and munch on something sweet late at night, go to Agora or Southside Espresso. And if you want to go somewhere quiet and relaxing with plenty of space, go to Paper Co. Coffee.

Located in the First Ward practically underneath the interstate split of I-45 and I-10, you'll find what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, but really it's one of the best coffee shops in Houston.

I am kicking myself for not discovering this gem, especially since I've driven by it a countless number of times. Paper Co. Coffee has been open for almost one year -- it opened in July of 2013 -- and I wish I had checked it out when it opened.

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First Look at Cadillac Coffee Food Truck

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Cadillac Coffee is a retro coffee truck serving specialty drinks, kolaches and pastries.
It's no secret that Houston has an ample number of food trucks serving lunch and dinner. But lately, the expansion of food trucks seems to lean more toward breakfast options and caffeinated beverages.

Espresso Rescue joined the food truck scene just a few months ago and often sets up shop with Katmania Crepes to satisfy the breakfast needs of Houstonians with crepes and coffee. Doughmaker Doughnuts recently hit the road serving gourmet doughnuts outside coffee shops like Mercantile and Black Hole Coffee House. Now, Houstonians can grab their morning Joe from Cadillac Coffee, a retro mobile eatery serving special caffeinated drinks, kolaches, pastries and pies.

Most of the time a food truck is essentially that -- a truck. The owners drive around town, park outside a community venue or set up shop in the confines of a food park. But, Cadillac Coffee does things a bit differently. Uber-friendly owner Meghan Ackerman pulls a 1963 Shasta camper van with a 1957 Cadillac Series 62 -- it's like a diner on wheels with a kick ass car.

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Starbucks Won't Be Bringing Booze to Houston, But Who Cares?

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Photo courtesy Southside Espresso
"These are a few of my favorite things..."
Starbucks recently announced that it would be adding beer and wine, as well as an "evenings menu," to select locations around the country, after testing the plan in 26 markets during the last several years. The bad news? Starbucks booze isn't coming to Houston anytime soon. The good news? We don't need it.

Houston is home to a number of bar/coffee shop hybrids -- something I hadn't really seen anywhere else before moving here. But the fact that Houstonians want both alcohol and caffeine in one convenient location just makes me love this city even more. News outlets across the country are reporting on this Starbucks story as if it's groundbreaking.

Coffee and wine? Together?!

Please, people. We're way ahead of you, Starbucks.

Here are the best places in Houston to get your drink on and caffeinate, too.

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France à la Houston

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Photo by Catherine Gillespie
The Tempting Pastry Case at French Riviera Bakery

When translated from France to America, the culinary capital of the world's traditions often amount to starched white table clothes and stuffy service. Houston is luckier than most cities, as there are a few places in the Bayou City to get a great croque madame or a delicious foie gras torchon. In order to recreate the real magic of a day in Paris here, however, you'll need to spend some time in Rice Village, travel to The Heights, and traipse around the Menil's lawn.

The French phrase for breakfast begins with the word "petit." Keep that in mind when kicking off your day. Instead of going overboard with a brunch-style morning meal, stick to the basics at Croissant Brioche or French Riviera Bakery. The former is a homey place good for a quick croissant (or brioche), Americano and glass of juice. The latter has a generic interior -- don't expect to see any clay roosters or decorative plates -- but the pastry case is anything but. Don't miss the cream-filled profiteroles or delectable eclairs.


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First Look at Boulevard Coffee: Top-Notch Mocha Lattes and Blueberry Scones

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Boulevard Coffee is now open and serves some killer pastries and desserts.
Remember Waldo's Coffee House on Heights Boulevard? The casual coffee house with an outdoor patio and casual indoor seating perfect for lounging, studying or chatting with friends closed last summer, but if you regularly pass by the intersection of East 11th Street and Heights Boulevard, you might have noticed some remodeling and construction, and a "Now Open" sign for a different coffee house, Boulevard Coffee.

The same folks behind Waldo's Coffee House bring you Boulevard Coffee. Same location, same owners, just a different name. Ron Lopes is the owner of Boulevard Coffee which features more outdoor patio space, and what seems like more indoor seating than Waldo's. You can still come and relax with a cup of coffee and a muffin, or enjoy a casual concert throughout the week. But, it's not a replica of Waldo's. Boulevard Coffee also has a kitchen, in which chef Steven Hernandez a chef prepares a variety of foods for breakfast and lunch.

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