A Cup of Joe

The best Austin coffee shops for Wi-Fi, networking, and getting the job done


Brew and Brew in Austin 4589
Photo by Jon Shapley
Bennu Coffee_MLK_24 hour_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Cenote_coffee_exterior_sign
Photo by Emma Manzer
Dominican Joe Coffee Shop_Riverside_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Epoch Coffee Circa 13_Anderson_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Flighpath Coffee House_Hyde Park_24 hour_patio
Photo by Emma Manzer
Houndstooth Coffee_Congress_bar_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Monkey Nest Coffee_Burnet_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Thunderbird Coffee_Manor_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Wright Bros Brew and Brew_coffee and beer_interior
Photo by Emma Manzer
Stouthaus Coffee Pub_Austin_South Lamar
Photo courtesy of Stouthaus Coffee Pub

No other place of work better reflects Austin’s highly creative and proudly weird individualism than the 50 or so independent coffee shops around town. Sorry Starbucks fans: Complex roasts, knowledgeable baristas with mad skills and a quintessential Austin vibe trump corporate coffee any day.

Indeed, Austin’s vaunted reputation as a hotbed of entrepreneurialism owes a lot to the local coffee shop scene. The abundance of caffeine, free wireless, work-friendly layouts and sense of community made it possible for many businesses to launch, grow and thrive. The mighty coffee shops of Austin have probably had a greater positive impact on startups than all of the accelerators and co-working spaces combined. (If only because they keep the coders' caffeine levels high enough to work all night.)

Indie coffee shops around Austin daily play host to thousands of early stage startups, enterprising musicians and artists, self-employed professionals and a fair number of corporate stiffs who find working from home too damn boring.

I’m so crazy about Austin’s coffee scene I even decided to name one of my companies PR over Coffee. When not running my PR agency from coffee shops or hosting my PR over Coffee group, I can usually be found around town slurping and swishing shots of espresso like an over-stimulated sommelier.

So it is with these bona fides that I dared volunteer my expertise in coming up with the list of the top 10 coffee shops for professionals. Who am I to back down from a challenge? Read on for my top picks, based on everything from networking and parking to Wi-Fi and power outlets. 

Bennu Coffee: 4.5 coffee cups

You can find an open laptop and highly caffeinated drink at every table in Bennu. A perfect hub for workers and students alike, Bennu has many tables with plenty of room to work. And while they don't accept Bitcoins, you can buy and sell them with Bennu's Bitcoin ATM.

Networking: 4 coffee cups
You can find coders, developers and designers working a lot at Bennu. They also get a lot of med and law students in the mornings and evenings.

Parking: 3.5 coffee cups
There is a small lot in front of the building, but if that's full there is plenty of street parking.

Power outlets: 5 coffee cups
You don't have to worry about getting a table along the walls because Bennu has retracting extension cords literally hanging from the ceiling around all the tables. (We’re wondering if they should get that patented?)

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups
While working there, we were able to get connected quickly and work without any problems. Wi-Fi is not password protected.

Popular drinks/food: Special to Bennu is the sweet and creamy Iced Bennu. Also, they have 7 different mochas, named after novels, all made with different kinds of chocolates. For food, Bennu offers Jumbo's bagels and baked goods from Russell's Bakery, as well as sandwiches from Fricanos Deli, and vegan and gluten-free options from Happy Vegan Baker.

Caffe Medici: 4 coffee cups

Caffe Medici's two-story location downtown is a great place to get some work done. The first floor has a few tables and couches for work space and a stand-alone barista bar where baristas can show-off their mad latte design skills. The upstairs lounge offers plenty of tables for working with a view of what's going on downstairs. Views of the new J.W. Marriott are pretty swank, too.

Networking: 4 coffee cups
With its prized location in the Austonian, Caffe Medici sees a lot of customers from tech companies the high-rent office towers. You’ll also rub elbows with people who work in VCs, patent attorneys, haute couture and visiting VIPs.

Parking: 1.5 coffee cups
There is street parking along both sides of Congress Avenue. Also, there are a few spots directly in front of Caffe Medici, but after 5 pm it’s turned into a valet service. We were told the Convention Center's Second Street garage is the most reasonably priced, although it is a few blocks away.

Power outlets: 3 coffee cups
If you need a charge, you better look for a table near the walls. Outlets weren't terribly hard to find, but they're not accessible by all tables.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups
Password protected. We didn't have any problems with the connection while working.

Popular drinks/food:
Caffe Medici's cappuccinos are very popular — the baristas are artistas. Previously Caffee Medici only served Cuvee Coffee (Austin-based and wildly innovative) but now it offers Ruby Coffee Roasters and Temple Coffee. Pastries from Texas French Bread are legit. They even have vegan pastries from Blackbird Bakery and vegan donuts from Red Rabbit Bakery that are to-live-for.

 

Cenote: 3.5 coffee cups

In a small refurbished house on the corner of Cesar Chavez sits Cenote. Finding a seat among the crowd of hungry patrons may be difficult during the lunch hour, but there are plenty of tables outside, and we can’t think of a better place to soak up the sun and caffeine so close to downtown. 

Networking: 4 coffee cups
Cenote is a very social place where you can find a good mix of people from all industries.

Parking: 3 coffee cups
Cenote has a few parking spots available, but if those are occupied, nearby street parking isn't too hard to find.

Power outlets: 2 coffee cups
Outlets weren't easy to find, and not accessible to every table.

Wi-Fi reliability: 4 coffee cups 
Password protected. The connection was lagging a little, but other than that we had no issues.

Popular drinks/food:
Cenote's lattes, cortados and house-made chai are most popular among customers. Cenote offers breakfast until 4 pm, and all of the sandwiches can be made gluten-free. Cenote offers a lot of vegan food options and has an in-house gluten free bakery.

 

Dominican Joe Coffee Shop: 4 coffee cups

Just south of downtown, Dominican Joe's offers a nice spot to get some work done. It has plenty of seats inside to choose from, as well as more tables outside on the patio. The location close to downtown at the bottom of SoCo makes this an understandably popular hang-out.

Networking: 4 coffee cups 
You can find a good mix of students and business people here. The noise level is low-key which keeps the focus on work, but there are plenty of folks willing to chat in between bursts of productivity. You’ll see artists, solo-professionals, real estate agents, staff from Soco’s trend-setting retail and restaurant scene, and plenty of programmers tapping away like the caffeinated technocrats they are.

Parking: 3.5 coffee cups 
There is a decent sized parking lot, but if that's full there is street parking on Congress Avenue.

Power outlets: 3 coffee cups 
Outlets are not easily accessible to all tables, but finding a seat or table close to an outlet didn't seem to be a huge problem. Plus, if you ask politely, people don’t mind sharing a table or letting you plug in from close by.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups 
Not password protected, but we were able to get online quickly without any problems.

Popular drinks/food:
Some of Dominican Joe's popular beverages are the honey cream latte, flan latte and cubano shots. It sources local food items from The Green Cart, Rockstar Bagels, pastries from Russell's Bakery, vegan treats from Celeste's Best and gluten-free options from Let's Get Pie.

 

 

Epoch Coffee Circa 13: 4 coffee cups

Hidden in a shopping center on West Anderson Lane next to the Alamo Drafthouse, Circa 13 offers a workers’ paradise. With big, spaced-out tables you can work without the cramped feeling of other coffee shops around town.

Networking: 4 coffee cups
Epoch sees people from a variety of industries, such as designers, programmers, solo-preneurs and artists.

Parking: 5 coffee cups 
Epoch is located in a big shopping center, so finding a spot nearby is not a problem.

Power outlets: 4 coffee cups 
Outlets were easy to find and access.

Wi-Fi reliability: 2 coffee cups
Epoch has two Wi-Fi networks available. We had a difficult time getting connected, but we didn't have any problems once we were on ... most of the time. Maybe the wireless routers didn’t like our Macs?

Popular drinks/food:
Popular hot beverages are the mocha or a classic hot chocolate. For cold drinks, the sweet and creamy Iced Mojo is a favorite. The in-house bakery prepares sandwiches and breakfast tacos for both Epoch locations. Rockstar Bagels, tempting pastries from Quack's and East Side Pies are also available.

Flightpath Coffee House: 4.5 coffee cups

Flightpath is bigger than it looks on the outside and is a great place to work close to UT. The room in the back is quiet and usually filled with lots of hard-working folks. The front seems a little more social, and when the weather's nice the patio is the place to hang.

Networking: 4 coffee cups 
Being in close proximity to campus, there are a lot of students. Mixed in with the students, however, you can find coders, startups, entrepreneurs, artists, UT professors, and plenty of indie consultants.

Parking: 3 coffee cups 
There are a few spots out front, some of which are for to-go orders, but nearby street parking is easy to find.

Power outlets: 4 coffee cups
You can sit at a table along the wall or in the middle of the room, and finding an outlet is rarely an issue.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups 
The password-less network is quick and easy to connect to.

Popular drinks/food:
Flightpath favorites include the New Orleans iced coffee and a cold brew over ice. Flightpath offers pastries from Quack's, mouth-watering slices of pie from Texas Pie Company, Green Cart sandwiches and East Side Pies pizza.

Houndstooth Coffee: 4 coffee cups

Houndstooth's downtown location occupies part of the first floor of the Frost Bank Tower. Every first and third Thursday morning of the month you can find it packed with Austin Open Coffee Club.

Networking: 5 coffee cups 
Its location at the bottom of the Frost Bank Tower makes Houndstooth a hot spot for the Tesla set: bankers, startup investors, attorneys. Its close proximity to Austin's tech scene makes it a frequent spot for startups of all kinds, coders on a deadline, creative consultants and recording artists.

Parking: 2.5 coffee cups 
Being downtown means you'll need to find street parking or a parking garage. If you're not planning to stay long, Houndstooth will validate for one hour in the Frost Bank Tower parking garage.

Power outlets: 4 coffee cups 
Outlets near a table isn't a problem at Houndstooth.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups 
The network is password protected, and it was smooth sailing while working there.

Popular drinks/food:
Houndstooth's cappuccinos, cortados and Twofer Espressos are favorites. Twofers are a great way to compare two different espresso roasts and appreciate how complex and variable the flavors can be. To eat, try pastries from Luxe Sweets and vegan donuts from Red Rabbit Bakery.

Monkey Nest Coffee: 3.5 coffee cups

Despite how many people go to Monkey Nest to work, you won't have a hard time finding a table, especially if you’re polite! Want to have a scrum meeting for your mobile app or hold a book club meeting every week? You can rent a meeting room in the back with a large TV and projector that works with Mac and PC.

Networking: 4 coffee cups
Of the many people working at Monkey Nest on any given day, you will find programmers, photographers, music and video producers, writers, realtors, and retailers from the booming Burnet strip.

Parking: 2 coffee cups 
There's a lot, but it fills up fast.

Power outlets: 3 coffee cups
Monkey Nest’s shotgun set-up is packed with tables, but unfortunately some of the tables away from the wall don't have great outlet access.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups
The network was not password protected, but was fast and easy to get on and use.

Popular drinks/food:
The staff competes in monthly latte competitions, so the cappuccinos are a popular drink of choice, as well as the espressos and Spicy Monkey Latte. Also made in-house are breakfast tacos, flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and some pastries like the finger-licking Monkey Muffins (personally tested by us for you, dear reader!). The shop also sells Naked Fox chocolates (again, personally tested).

 

Thunderbird Coffee: 4 coffee cups

Thunderbird made the list because it continues to provide East Austin with great coffee, a good scene to people watch and enough wireless bandwidth to work without interruptions. It’s an eclectic scene showing Austin at its weirdest, hippest and techiest.

Networking: 4 coffee cups
Thunderbird sees a lot of grad students and professors, marketing professionals and artists. Rest assured, if you’re a techie then you will fit right in among the coders, user experience designers and startup entrepreneurs.

Parking: 3.5 coffee cups
There is a small parking lot, but if that's full, street parking is available in the neighborhood behind Thunderbird.

Power outlets: 4 coffee cups 
A good amount of plugs makes it easy to stay charged.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups 
We were able to get connected quickly and easily.

Popular drinks/food: 
Thunderbird's espresso made with tips direct from the roasters and the Honey-nut Latte are popular picks. Thunderbird sells Tacodeli breakfast tacos, Rockstar Bagels, Quack's pastries, vegan options from Celeste's Best and fresh sandwiches and salads.

 

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew: 4 coffee cups

Feeling a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about what to drink while you work? Wright Bros. Brew & Brew has the answer for you. This East Austin joint was one of the early entrants to the coffee-cum-craft brew scene and frankly does a great job paying homage to both beverage traditions. It’s a rare place that baristas talk as knowledgeably about coffee roasting and single origin beans as they do about German pilsners and West Coast IPAs.  

Networking: 4.5 coffee cups 
The industry types that frequent Brew & Brew are startups, edgy-looking types from the music industry, web designers, local entrepreneurs, beer and service industry.

Parking: 3 coffee cups
There is street parking if you can find a spot. There will soon be reserved spots for Brew & Brew in the dirt lot across the street.

Power outlets: 3 coffee cups 
Some seats had easy access to outlets, while others were a smidge far away.

Wi-Fi reliability: 5 coffee cups 
The network is password protected, and we noticed no lag or problems connecting.

Popular drinks/food:
If you're not sure what to get here, you can't go wrong with a Brew and Brew (a shot of espresso or machiato or cortado paired with beer based on recommendations from the friendly staff). There are 38 craft beers available on tap. For food, Brew & Brew sells small sandwiches, some pastries and snacks.

Honorable mentions:

Stouthaus Coffee Pub
Perfect for people south of downtown in Sunset Valley who don't want to go all the way downtown for good coffee, networking and food.

Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors 
Best kept secret in Austin (though not for long), in that it aspires to be a niche community coffee shop with great (if limited) work space.

Genuine Joe Coffeehouse
It’s been a standard in North Austin and has affordable meeting spaces (free if you buy enough coffee), which are perfect for small work groups.

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