First it was Cafe Mundi. Then it was Little City. My two favorite coffee shops, one where they actually knew my order when I walked in, have closed. When I heard the news that Little City was closing, I literally got all teary-eyed.
I call myself a coffee shop junkie, even though I don’t get to hang out at them as often as I would like to now that I have kids and all. And so what’s a junkie to do when her two favorite spots have closed? Go in search of a new one.
Austin has changed quite a bit since I moved here over 14 years ago. One very noticeable change is the amount of coffee shops that have sprouted up in all areas of town. There are tons of ‘em! They’re everywhere! To get my fix, I plan to visit and review at least one per month until I find my new favorite spot. You can read about the previous reviews here. To make it easy on you and on me, the reviews will be in bullet points with lots of photos to free up more time to people-watch, an essential when you are at a good coffee shop!
For our next bulletpoint coffee shop review, we were actually invited to have a tasting at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf location on South Lamar. (Disclosure: We were given free samples.) We love tasting new things, but were skeptical about this California-based chain really winning our hearts as a place to return to. Turns out, the company gives each franchisee a lot of leeway to work locally, bringing in hyper-local foods to each location when feasible while using its corporate power to acquire the “top 1%” of coffee beans and whole tea leaves.
The company is admirable in its dedication to providing the best coffee and tea using the fair practices. From their website: “Not only is it paramount that we provide our customers with the highest quality products, but it’s equally important that the ingredients for these products come from growers who pay fair wages and treat workers respectfully.” As parents, we particularly like their commitment to giving back to the local community and to worldwide organizations that help kids through their Caring Cup program: http://www.coffeebean.com/Caring-Cup.html.
We got to try a lot of yummy drinks, things many of us would never have ordered on our own like their Ice Blended teas and juices. The employees who took the time out of their day to talk with us were so incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their products, we couldn’t help but be impressed.
- With seven locations around town, there’s sure to be one near you. Bonus: Some locations have a drive-thru.
- Good food, much of it provided by local companies; a little pricey, though, as a large fruit salad will set you back $5
- Great coffee, but their tea really sets them apart. If you love tea or are looking to expand your horizons, go in and just talk to the barrista about what you should try. We particularly liked the African Sunrise (hot) and Pomegranate-Blueberry (ice blended).
- The South Lamar location is bright and roomy, with a comfortable porch where they have live music sometimes (could be quite hot in the afternoon sun, though).
- Good place to work, with WiFi and plenty of power outlets. The outside area is especially nice if you have a kid or two with you.
- Friendly, knowledgeable staff – as we said above, feel free to ask for guidance! They’re excited to talk about the products.
- Parking can be tough, especially at the North Lamar location.
- Busy so you may not find an appropriate seat, although a few locations are larger and you can even reserve a space for meetings.
- Chain-ish: Not exactly the place to soak up an uber-Austin vibe or people watch, but a nice place to meet friends, hang out and work, or just get some superior tea and coffee.
For a complete list of locations, click here.
Written by Shannon Oelrich
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