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Of the city’s many fine coffee shops, these are the ones inviting enough to linger in.
They’re special, quirky places where time slows and a great cup of coffee comes with a table and a chair.
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A laid-back spot in the Heights serving coffee from local roasters. Here, there are comfy seats, roomy tables, working outlets, and coffee for a cause. The nonprofit coffee shop raises awareness and funds to fight human trafficking.
“Love the mission and the methods,” Marie Cossey Daniel wrote in a review on the coffee shop’s Facebook page. “Delicious offerings plus a plethora of artisan items for all ages. PERFECT place to shop for ANY gift giving need. Perfect place to bring out of towners and a nice spot with positive vibes for working or chilling in a peaceful atmosphere. Best of all, a 2nd Cup supports those who are surviving the atrocities they’ve endured. 100% recommended!”
📍 1111 E 11th St, Houston, TX 77009
MORE: Houston nonprofit A 2nd Cup serves coffee with a cause
I come to this coffee shop on Westheimer and Dunlavy nearly every Saturday and Sunday. I really love the place. And by no means am I alone in my affection for it. Decorated with vintage furniture that looks like it was just pulled from an attic, Agora has been beloved for years by strung out city dwellers who come to eat its incredible pastries and drink its rich coffee (I urge you to try to the freddo cappuccino). Parking is a problem. Finding someplace to sit is a struggle. But Agora is worth the effort and more. There’s something in the atmosphere. The aroma of coffee, the hum of conversation, Nina Simone belting in the background. It’s a simple joy to savor a cup of coffee here.
Another shop I frequent. It’s a friendly place of refuge and peace, a sort of sun-filled sanctuary where one can be alone without exactly being alone. Black Hole Coffee House has a kind of effortlessly cool vibe, too -- mismatched mod furniture, smooth jazz, serious coffee. It has the right proportion of comfortable seating to electrical outlets, there’s wireless internet, convenient parking, a food truck stationed just outside, and lovely tables out front that fill up when the weather is nice.
This bright and airy EaDo café describes itself as a “gathering place that blends work and life.” Here, you can slip into a cozy nook, nurse a cup of coffee and bury your head in a good book.
Highlights include a warm, relaxed atmosphere, reliable Wi-Fi and an expansive menu featuring tacos, sandwiches, salads and even cocktails and mocktails. A word of advice from one sugar fiend to another: Order the Texas Affogato: two shots of espresso poured over rocky road ice cream. It’s decadent but oh-so-good.
“Came by to get a long study session in, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Sandy M. Solis wrote in a review on the coffee shop’s Facebook page. “Have definitely found my spot. Friendly service, and very clean. Yummy eats and great coffee. Can’t wait until it’s cool enough to enjoy that patio!!”
📍 612 Live Oak St., Houston, TX 77003
This small coffee shop on Washington Avenue and Hemphill Street has been beloved since it opened its doors in 2007. Expect a warm, welcoming atmosphere and high-quality coffee.
A cavernous three-story coffee house with overstuffed chairs, great beans and a rooftop deck with a view.
“Amazingly comfortable and relaxing atmosphere with lots of people watching and great coffees and treats,” Jeff Walters wrote in a review on the coffee shop’s Facebook page.
There are plenty of places to read in Houston. This is one of my favorites -- Croissant-Brioche.
Located in Rice Village, it’s a friendly, neighborhood place where locals linger, making quiet connections over coffee. The parking situation is less-than-ideal and it’s generally a bit crowded, but there’s a solid selection of magazines and newspapers strewn about, the pastries are large and sweet, and the cappuccinos -- served with a pinch of cinnamon and generous cloud of foamed milk -- are spectacular. In the display cases near the counter are fruit tarts, éclairs, danishes, profiteroles, and mousse cakes. And in baskets behind the register are pillow-soft croissants and brioche buns, all made in house.
Devilishly good pastries notwithstanding, Croissant-Brioche’s best attribute is its ambiance; it’s got a sort of warm, easy-going atmosphere, a certain, dare I say, je ne sais quoi.
A homey, sun-filled café with pastries, sandwiches, and of course, coffee.
“I have been going to EQ Coffee since it was originally Waldo’s,” Ash Carter wrote in a review on the cafe’s Facebook page. “The location has always been one of my favorites and the current incarnation of EQ is wonderful. The atmosphere and staff are great and I just cannot recommend it highly enough.”
A sleek space with a relaxed ambiance and seriously smooth coffee.
📍 1717 W 34th St Suite #100, Houston, TX 77018
A charming coffee bar and creperie operating out of a renovated 1921 filling station in Midtown.
“What a delightful experience!” Eunice Alexandre wrote in a review on the coffee bar’s Facebook page. “The iced coffee was delicious as were the crepes we tried and chocolate chip cookie. You feel relaxed and cool outside in the garden listening to the sounds of water. A must for all coffee lovers seeking a great ambience.”
📍 3709 La Branch St, Houston, TX 77004
At Segundo Coffee Lab, a shipping container café at a warehouse-turned-marketplace in East End, you can get breakfast tacos, empanadas, tortas, pastries, coffee (of course), and some quality quiet time. This is the sort of place where you can steal a few hours to read, study, work or simply veg.
“Fantastic coffee!” Kelley Mar wrote in a review on the coffee shop’s Facebook page. “The only downside is that all other coffee tastes inferior and you will be thinking of this coffee when you’re drinking other coffee.”
MORE: Hispanic-owned coffee shop serves experimental brews in Houston’s Second Ward
This hardcore coffee shop in Montrose is named for its specialty brewing method, which involves a halogen heating element, glass globe, and wooden paddle. The spectacle is quite entertaining and results in a brew so striking I’m sure FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper would describe it thusly: “You know, this is – excuse me – a damn fine cup of coffee.” The beverage is $10, takes around 10 minutes and results in two servings.
To boot, Siphon is a sweet study spot with free Wi-Fi, working outlets, good grub, comfy chairs, and ample counterspace. All in all, it’s a great place to unwind.
📍 701 W Alabama St., Houston, TX 77006
So pleasant, it’s disarming. A sweet space flooded with sunlight and greenery galore. And, the coffee? It’s exceptional.
☕ What would you add? This list is by no means comprehensive and I’m grateful for recommendations. Where do you go to sip and read in Houston? Let us know in the comments.
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Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.
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