In the incredibly eclectic and entrepreneurial community that is Austin, TX, trying to create a list of the ideal coffee houses for entrepreneurs is next to impossible and undoubtedly most will disagree with me about at least one or two here. After all, entrepreneurship is so woven into the DNA of Austin, it’s probably safe to say there are more independently owned coffee shops here than there are startups in Silicon Valley.
In no particular order, because well, come on…
- Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse: One of Austin’s artsy coffee shops with just the right mix of indoor and outdoor seating, Bouldin Creek is minutes from downtown on South First Street. Undoubtedly drawing entrepreneurs to work here out of their desire to build community while preserving the character of a once sleepy college town in the midst of growth and development.
- Bennu Coffee: Admittedly, Clarke the Intern queued this one up for me; as a part time entrepreneur and part time father, I haven’t seen the inside of a 24 hour coffee shop in nearly a decade. Indeed, making Bennu special is the fact that it’s the place to work at 3 in the morning.
- Every year, in the weeks following SXSWi, Austin sees a spike in startups relocating to Austin; undoubtedly due to one place. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters gives those visiting Austin a taste of what it’s really like to leave here, and it isn’t the partying on 6th street. If the turtles chilling out in Lake Austin don’t give you that moment of Zen, the idyllic, local kayaking found just beyond the dam you’ll see from Mozart’s, at Red Bud Isle, would make any entrepreneur pick up and move. Imagine working here.
- It’s been suggested that Flightpath is home to the incredibly comfortable, “living room” style coffee house atmosphere that’s become so popular. The Flightpath is guaranteed to be a quiet place to come and study, work, or “simply get your taxes done.” A neighborhood coffee shop without live music (in Austin?! sacrilege!), they are your home office away from home.
- Down the road a bit from Flightpath is Epoch, Austin’s second great 24 hours spot. They sum it up best themselves, “We wanted to create a different kind of coffee bar. A lounge where it felt like you were in someone’s living room instead of just another business.” It goes without saying that you won’t ever find yourself here with a developer or two building some incredible software.
- When I moved to Austin a couple years ago, Dominican Joe was practically home to me. Nestled in among Whale Shark Media and Freebirds World Burrito, Dominican always felt most conveniently located to downtown. Though I now spend most of my time in north and west Austin, this will always hold a special place for me in Austin as the coffee house where I found my way in town, and met a few entrepreneurs along the way.
- In my list of locally owned, comfortable, coffee houses, this one may catch you off guard. Starbucks, at the Arboretum, which is constantly packed with people working. No list of entrepreneurial workplaces would be complete without this venue which draws not just the young hacker but Austin’s finest in technology, media & advertising, and venture capital. On any given day, you’re bound to see someone here who keeps Austin humming.
- Austin Java is a bit of a cheat on this list as I can’t possibly just leave it to one. Barton Springs hosts Austin Java next to an Uncle Billy’s Barbecue and puts Zilker Park within walking distance. 12th and Lamar brings a tight but popular Austin Java to those just north of the city. And for those way out west, WAY out, around Lake Travis, Austin Java has opened at The Oasis and though smaller, usually has two or three people working through the day before catching the best little sunset in Texas.
- The West Lake community heads up 360, to meet those coming down, at 360 Uno and the convenience of this great wine bar and cafe, which yes, makes the list as a coffee house too, draws the angel and venture community of Austin. Spend a day or two here and you’re also likely to run into someone from Austin’s later stage success stories like Bazaarvoice or Solarwinds.
- Playing no small role in the redevelopment of east Austin is Progress Coffee; for around this hallowed space march the denizens of our friends at Conjunctured. The view from the patio out front leaves a bit to be desired but, on occasion, I’d argue there is no better outdoor seating in Austin. Progress has a unique feel that just demands that you cook up a new idea.
- South and west you’re going to find yourself at Lola Savannah, in the words of the great Marc Mapes, “A networking haven for those looking to meet people in Austin. They also happen to have the best coffee in Austin (in my opinion), incredibly friendly staff and awesome breakfast tacos. I’ve spent many hours there working in comfort and have made more than a few valuable connections. The Grove next door also has great food for lunch and dinner. Try the pizzas and wine flights. Great place.”
- As a locally owned and operated business, Houndstooth Coffee seeks to be an integral pattern in the fabric of the Central Austin community and indeed it is. Coffee, great tea, or just a place to relax in the afternoon, Houndstooth is right in the middle of it all.
Was that 10? You know, with this much caffeine in me, I confess I’m not counting straight.
I hope, you’ll disagree with me. Genuinely! The only way we’re going to find the great spaces is to put them out there and compare notes. If you enjoy, or disagree with, a coffee shop on my list above, click through the link and let us know what you think with your own review. If, perish the thought, I’ve neglected a great spot, let us know in the comments below.
Revised to add
Thanks to some thoughts from our friends on Facebook, Strange Brew in S. Austin and The Steeping Room at The Domain join the list! What do you think? Great places to work? Add your review.
And by the way… have you been to Caffe Medici lately?