Houston 2020: Today’s Best Coffee Shops

Photo courtesy of Blacksmith

It’s 2020, y’all. As we all embark on this new decade, take a look at some of Houston’s “bests” today. Enter Houston 2020, a new series highlighting 20 local things and places that are at the top of their “A” game, helping to define the city at this very moment. The listings aren’t ranked, and in some cases, will be broken down by category.

In the year 2020, Houston’s coffee scene is abuzz with cafes and shops sourcing the world’s best beans and teas. From shops with ace baristas and picture-perfect lattes to artsy cafes that’ll get the creative juices flowing, here are the finest coffee shops in town today.

Look out for future listings, from Today’s Best Breweries and Brunches to the Best Parks & Outdoor Destinations.

Houston 2020: Today’s Best Coffee Shops

Best All-Around Coffee Shops for a Cup & a Nosh

  • Blacksmith in Montrose – Local roasters and Greenway Coffee gurus David Buehrer and John Letoto have set the standards high with this impossibly cool, specialty coffee shop. Savor the aromas of the daily black, or treat yourself to a creamy cane sugar latte; all while digging into Vietnamese steak & eggs and scratch square biscuits, which help fuel you while you work or unwind.
  • Boomtown Coffee in the Heights and Downtown – This caffeine powerhouse got its start as a roaster, putting out small-batch, thoughtfully-roasted beans and supplying shops around the state. Today, you’ll find shops on 19th Street, Main Street, and in Downtown’s Understory food hall. Pair coffee classics—house drips, café au laits, cappuccinos, and house specialties like the chicory-vanilla Crud cold brew or shaken and fluffed Ice Capp—with eats from parfaits and daily quiche to Cubanos and barbacoa tacos.
  • Cavo Coffee in Greenway and West University – Rocking two locations, Cavo Coffee uses its own freshly brewed beans from local Cleo Roasting Co. The shop has become a fan favorite thanks to its perfect espresso drinks, housemade syrups and chai, halogen siphon coffees, and addicting eats like avo toast, cream cheese pound cake, and wood-burn oven croissants.

Coolest Locally-Inspired Cafes

  • Catalina Coffee in Arts District Houston – This longtime hotspot is owned by local caffeine king Max Gonzalez, founder of Amaya Roasting Company. Here, responsibly-sourced, flavorful roasts make their way into perfectly pulled espressos, cortados, flat whites, and lattes kicked with things like lavender and salted caramel. While you’re there, pair your beverage with a selection of daily pastries.
  • Morningstar Coffee in the Heights – For a coffee experience that feels wholly Houston, hit this refreshing venture from Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto. Here, you’ll find drinks like café sua da and daily Gold Cup next to things like housemade matcha doughnuts, bbq brisket kolache, and chorizo & egg tacos.
  • Southside Espresso in Montrose – Over on lower Westheimer tucked behind Uchi, this cozy, hipster coffee house may be small, but its coffees pack a powerful punch. Southside uses freshly roasted coffee beans from its local sister company, Fusion Beans Coffee Roastery, plus a rotation of noteworthy coffee roasters around the nation and stellar selection of teas. Look out for fun collabs with local breweries and creatives.
  • Tropicales in the Boulevard Oaks – Flat whites, lattes, cortados, and café bombon are all on the menu at this island-style café; as are a lineup of teas, cocktails, kombucha, and all-day eats. Escape the city and dig into chorizo and yucca breakfast tacos, avocado toasts made with blue corn masa cakes, smothered enchiladas suizas, and churros with guava dulce de leche.

Best Spots for a Feel-Good Cup

  • A 2nd Cup in the Heights – This nonprofit coffee shop is committed to fighting human trafficking here in Houston, raising awareness and funding after-care solutions, cup by cup. Pop into the 11th street joint to get a caffeine fix and support a good cause.
  • Paper Co. Cafe in the First Ward – This cool café is hidden away next to Ecclesia Church near Downtown. Find the blue door and a clean, cool space where feel-good buzz awaits you. Community is at the forefront, here, as there’s a seat for everyone at the table, regardless of socioeconomic status. All the shop’s profits go towards providing for the Houston homeless community, and anyone can donate toward the café’s common meal (a quality meal priced on a sliding scale, where guests can pay what they can).
  • Throughgood Coffee in Shady Acres – Using quality roasted beans from Amaya Roasting Company, this soulful coffee shop seeks to improve people’s lives “through good” coffee. Over 25 years ago, the team behind the shop began serving hot meals to homeless women and men in Downtown; and today, its organization, Temenos Community Development Corporation, provides housing to previously homeless people. Enjoy a pour-over or drip and feel good about it, as a portion of the proceeds from Throughgood goes to these empowering initiatives.

Houston’s Most Unique Cafes

  • Campesino Coffee House in Montrose – Tucked away in a house off Waugh, this cozy spot throws it back to the Bohemian days of Montrose. Head here and you’ll get a Latin take on coffee culture, via café Cubanos, horchata iced lattes, and cortaditos. Tack on an empanada or tamale for good measure.
  • Coral Sword in the East End – This fun-loving café and bar combines a full menu of coffee and tea drinks, beer and wine, and pizza with a bevy of board, video, and role-playing games. It even streams weekly video game tourneys and podcasts from its in-house broadcasting booth.
  • Siphon Coffee in Montrose – Amaya Coffee, Huckleberry, Cat & Cloud, and Xela are just some of the roasters sourced at this popular brewhouse. In addition to stellar lattes and a revolving daily drip, the shop is known for its siphon brews—a mad scientist-looking method of brewing that uses chambers, vapor pressure, and gravity to produce a clean, almost tea-like cup of coffee with unique flavors. Give it a try when you get bored of your ordinary caffeine routine.

Best All-Day Spots for Coffee & Booze

  • Agora in Montrose – Open 9am to 2am daily, this cozy, two-story Greek café is a perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy some quiet time over a cappuccino or iced frappe (and a fudge cookie, of course), or catch up with friends over a unique list of craft suds and wines.
  • Cafeza in the First Ward – Inspired by the cafés of Barcelona and Buenos Aires, you can pair espresso drinks and sangria with homemade churros y chocolate and tapas at this refresqueria. The vibrant spot also features live performances from local musicians and rocks a special late-night food menu with eats from charcuterie to empanadas.
  • Penny Quarter in Montrose – You can wind up with an espresso or wine down with a glass of vino at this sleek Montrose café. It comes from the team behind spots like the next door Anvil Bar & Refuge, Heights hotspot Better Luck Tomorrow, and two of the hottest restaurants in the city, Theodore Rex and Squable. Pair your expertly crafted brews with elevated eats from pistachio butter toast to oyakodon, a Japanese chicken and egg rice bowl.
  • Slowpokes in Upper Kirby and Garden Oaks/Oak Forest – With a rotating selection of beer and wine offerings in addition to its specialty coffees and teas, this burgeoning mini-empire (it’s soon to rock three locations) is a choice spot to unwind. Pair your bevies with meat & cheese boards, panino, all-day breakfast, and happy hour snacks.

Best Coffee in the Burbs

  • Blkdog Coffee in Chinatown – Asiatown restaurateur Mike Tran grew his mini-empire (which includes spots like Tiger Den, Ohn Korean Eatery, and Mein) with the addition of this totally cool coffee shop, which sources its deeply flavored, well-balanced specialty blends from Philly roaster La Colombe. Hit the laidback coffee shop to sip drips, matcha black teas, and mocha frappes alongside a roster of fresh pastries and Brooklyn-style flatbread pizzas.
  • Pura Coffee in Memorial – This neighborhood shop offers West Houston expertly crafted espresso drinks, from flat whites to cappuccinos, plus specialties like cold brews, tiger chai, and blueberry matcha; all of which you can linger over alongside daily pastries and breakfast sandwiches.
  • Dandelion Cafe in Bellaire – Here, you’ll spot Greenway and Amaya Coffee roasts and housemade syrups—from peppermint to bourbon caramel—at this neighborhood favorite. You’ll also find other locally-sourced goods making their way onto the menu like “Cake & Bacon”, sandwiches and paninis stacked with Bread Man Baking Company bread, and sweetstuffs from Eat My Pralines.
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Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .