UPDATED Austin Coffeeshop Guide

Hopefully this list is helpful to someone (since my last list probably wasn’t). Note: I tried not to include places that would be considered cafès. 

If you want to study (like, actually study):20130604_125044
Monkey Nest 
Dominican Jo
Bennu (24/7)
Epoch (24/7)
Strange Brew (24/7)
Flightpath

If you’re meeting a friend:
Cafe Medici (on Guad)
Mozart’s
Cherrywood (not during the summer)
Cenote (not during the summer)
Thunderbird (on Manor)
Dominican Joe
Monkey Nest
Once Over (not during the summer)

If you’re reading/journaling/being introspective by yourself or with a friend:
SummermoonIMG_20131104_235251
Vintage Heart
Seventh Flag
Dominican Joe
Monkey Nest
Cafe Medici
Cherrywood
Mozart’s
Houndstooth

If you want to eat and sit on your laptop at the same time:
Monkey Nest
Dominican Joe
Cenote
Cherrywood
Pacha
Thunderbird (on Koenig)

If you just want a good Instagram picture:2014-08-27 12.52.08
Flat Track
Jo’s Coffee
Vintage Heart
Cafe Medici
Seventh Flag
Cenote
Houndstooth
Mozart’s
Juan Pelota’s

Not my favorite:
Flightpath
LaTazzaFresca
Spiderhouse
Pacha
The Hideout
Genuine Jo

Still want to try:
Brew and Brew
Fair Bean Coffee
Alta’s

Any suggestions?

PS: I am not an expert. These suggestions are based off of….my opinion. Which doesn’t say much.

PPS (PSS?): Here’s a picture of me coming one step closer to my dream of owning a coffeeshop LOL

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Giraffe in a Field of Zebras

Last month I listened to a guy talk about unicycles at a conference. He showed us this documentary he made about a unicycle program he started at different elementary schools in Austin. There was a third grade girl in the video who described how learning to ride a unicycle has impacted her life.

“Whenever I ride my unicycle, I feel free. It’s like being a giraffe in a field of zebras. At first you’re worried about what everyone is thinking about you, but then you don’t care.”

A giraffe in a field of zebras. The documentary was pretty inspiring. Too bad I can’t even ride a bike.

Two weeks ago I had an interview for a position with a homeless shelter, and the best way I can think to describe it now would be ‘giraffe in a field of zebras’. Maybe, ‘giraffe tries to be inconspicuous in a field of zebras.’ Or ‘giraffe has a slight panic attack’

I saw the crowd of people in front of the shelter before I even found a place to park. As I got out of the car and started walking towards the crowd why did I decide to wear heels a guy started approaching me. ‘Excuse me’ he said, what does he want why am I wearing heels should I just pretend I didn’t hear him  ‘Do you have change for the meter?’ Oh oops why do I always jump to conclusions ‘Sorry, I don’t.’ 

The guy at the desk told me to wait for the lady to come get me for the interview. I looked around and there was nowhere to sit, so I moved to stand near the side of the room but as I took a step I heard the clunk of my heels on the floor oh my god why am I wearing heels and decided to stay where I was. So I stood stiffly in the silence with a smile plastered on my face, feeling/imagining the stares of the dozens of people looking up at me from their chairs. 

I heard a voice say Dang lady, what you looking so good for? but I focused on being stiff and finally after what felt like an eternity (but was actually five minutes) the lady came and led me up the aluminum staircase in the center of the room. We walked up the staircase and my heels clanked on every step why did I decide to wear heels. During the interview we talked about effecting change and advocating for justice and I thought about the loud staircase and my feet which were starting to hurt in the heels. 

Anyway, the place ended up offering me a position, but I opted for a different one – one that I’m more excited about. Different in a lot of ways, but now that I think about it – similar in a lot of ways too. Two weeks has passed since that time when my heels were clanking up those stairs, and I’m determined to figure out what this whole giraffe/zebra mess means and I’ve resolved not to stand stiffly in the center of the room but sit down and make friends – because people are people. No more heels though. 

I’m excited about this year. I really am. Also, an update on my summer goals: 

Blog Regularly. Lol. I’m trying to churn out as many posts as I can now, because after next week they are sure to cease for a while. 
Wear sunscreen. Yes I did.
Always say ‘Hi’. Lol I tried. 
Figure out my favorite flower. Daisies! I have lots of fake daisies in my room.
Train myself to like non-teenpop music. This didn’t happen. Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off has been on repeat since it came out.
Declutter my life. Getting there. 

Friendship

It’s hard to say when friendships begin. I wonder if it’s possible to pinpoint a specific moment in time – when a conversation over lunch shifts from being the backbone of the friendship to being just an element of a larger experience. Maybe there aren’t specific moments. Maybe it takes nothing more than increased proximity or gradual realization of affinity or just an accumulation of shared cups of coffee.
 
 Summer is finally drawing to an end. No matter the year, I’ve come to expect three things from a Texas summer: the suffocating heat of the relentless Texas sunshine, the invariable attempt and failure of ‘finding yourself’, and a shift in friendships. This summer did not disappoint. 
 
This summer was the stuff of the last autograph page in highschool yearbooks – urgently reminiscent and stubbornly carefree. I already wonder if it’ll hold its weight when measured against all the other summers, but it was no more trivial than musing over problems without ever trying to affect change change, no more self-absorbed than productivity for the sake of self-satisfaction. 
 
I don’t know if there’s a word that means the opposite of feeling lonely, but if there was, that’s how I would describe friendship. An elusively indefinable, yet surprisingly tenacious word that conjures up images of sipping coffee on the patio, re-watching Portlandia episodes, driving down a Texas road in the rain, and sprawling on a blanket on a hillside as fireworks light up the sky.
 
I don’t think anyone really has all the words (I know I don’t) and that’s perfectly alright. Summer is almost over, but it’ll come again.
 
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Why I Love Texas: Part 2`

5) Texas Waffles. A few weekends ago I was accused of having too much Texas pride. But what other state forces their hotel/motel guests to eat waffles in the shape of their state every morning?? (I googled it – there are other state-shaped waffles, but they don’t look nearly as appetizing). 

photo 1

Photo taken by Tiffany during breakfast at an average motel

6) Long Drives – Driving to and from anywhere in Texas takes a while, but I love long drives. If I’m by myself I listen to Ariana Grande and sometimes NPR or sometimes I sit in silence. If I’m with people we listen to Ariana Grande and sometimes NPR and sometimes we sit in silence. 

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On the road to Amarillo, the longest Texas drive I’ve been on so far

7) Petrichor – It rains occasionally in Texas. After the last final exam of my undergraduate career I walked outside and it smelled like rain. 

8) Sunshine. I don’t mind the heat. Sometimes at work this other girl and I like to work outside. One time the others walked by and said ‘How are you out here??’  I also like to wear dresses in the summer but I recently donated a lot of them in my attempt to be a minimalist. 

Thoughts on the cell phone

For the past two weeks I’ve repeatedly tried to find an excuse to get rid of my phone so that I could A) justify my need to get a new one, and B) have a blame-free reason for not answering text messages and phone calls. My phone woes were documented obnoxiously all over my various social media outlets, but even after a spotty keyboard, nonexistent battery life, and even a lake – my phone endured, and I was only truly phone-less for about 24 hours. It’s functioning at about half-capacity, but still functioning – which means it’s here to stay for a while.

My phone is frustratingly resilient, and those who spend any time with me hear me complain about it at least once an hour. But despite the exhilarating freedom I felt the couple of times that I believed it had actually died, I found myself adopting a nervous twitch in its absence, habitually reaching for it whenever there was a moment of stillness – stopping at a traffic light, standing in line for the bathroom, waiting for a page to load. 

Like I had to fill the space or something. It reminded me of that Louis CK rant I’ve seen all over the internet, where he talks about how cell phones can take away our ability to simple be by ourselves, because we’re terrified of being alone for even a second. It was kind of poetic and a little sad – and there’s this temptation to toss my phone back into the lake and live life embracing that profound alone-ness. But it would be the opposite of profound to do that just because I heard something on YouTube that sounded the slightest bit existential. That being said, I really like Louis CK. And he’s right – people often never feel completely sad or completely happy, ‘You just kind of feel satisfied with your products. And then you die.”

I expected a lot of life’s noise to be filtered out when I didn’t have my phone, but (maybe not so) surprisingly, my life was still filled with a lot of noise. Can’t really blame the phone. 

And I don’t know why I hate my phone so much anyway. As I was recently reminded, my phone translated the Word to people in their own language, and they were able to hear and read stories of Jesus for the first time ever. God uses the least of us. 

Best Coffeeshops in Austin

Having spent most of my four years in Austin staring out a window of a coffeeshop, I’ve decided to turn that wasted time into something productive by compiling this list.

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Below are a handful of coffeeshops that I’ve picked in no particular order. They aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ (misleading title, right?) but they’re ones that I’ve been to at least three times, each time for at least an hour and a half.

Disclaimer: These reviews will have little to do with coffee because all coffee literally tastes the same to me. I unfortunately do not have a nuanced or developed palate – but I guess that means I can appreciate all coffee? If this bothers you because you are a coffee snob then feel free to stop reading.

SUMMER MOON: My favorite coffeeshop.

IMG_20130715_115513

When to go: This is where I would go to spend a summer day journaling or pretending to read. I call it my favorite coffeeshop, but the truth is I don’t go that often because it feels weird to go without a friend. I’ve never actually gone by myself. It’s super cute and cozy though!
When not to go: If you don’t feel like dealing with a difficult parking situation. Or if you don’t like those bathrooms that are not actually in the building. I also wouldn’t go here to cram for a test.
What to order: Half wintermoon is amazing. Or whatever it’s called.

MONKEY  NEST - My usual go-to coffeeshop.

20121127_160604

When to go: It’s a good place to go if you feel overcome with existentialist dread and need to be in a lively place with other people who are sitting by themselves. It’s also good if you need to study or meet up with people. There’s a quiet room in the back if you need it but I usually sit in the main area because there are lots of windows and people around. There’s also good parking. Oh! And there’s Happy Hour for sandwiches M-F 4-7pm.
When not to go: When you’ve spent 16 hours there over the course of two days and you feel weird going back.
What to order: Chocolate Chimp or Nutty Irishman. The Spicy Monkey Mocha if you want to spend half an hour choking and coughing.

DOMINICAN JOE- My other usual go to coffeeshop.

When to go: Like Monkeynest, It’s also a good place to go when experiencing fear and anxiety. Good lighting and happy people (kind of dark at night though). Good parking.
When not to go: If you’re going to meet up with someone, keep in mind that the people around you can hear literally every word that you say. I usually don’t mind because the concept of a private conversation is lost on me anyways, but it could bother some people.
What to order: Dirty Chai is interesting.

BENNU- The bane of my existence.

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Me and Kathy in this awful place.

When to go: You should only need to go to Bennu if you begin cramming for a test after 11pm and there’s nowhere else to go.
When not to go: Besides the reason stated above, there is absolutely no good reason to ever be here. And I don’t feel bad about saying that since it’s always so stuffed with people. Since finishing school I have not entered that building, and the thought of ever going back makes me want to cry. But one time I left my credit card there and when I went back to get it they were really nice about it.
What to order: Iced Bennu is popular.

 

CHERRYWOOD- I like this place.

1393318_10152052237932474_240682322_nWhen to go: It’s really pretty outside! But since it’s Texas it’s only nice to sit outside in the fall/winter/spring. I think there is an actual cherrywood tree outside. But I can’t be sure since I don’t actually know what a cherrywood tree is. They also have good food. And they’re open until midnight.
When not to go: It’s kind of dark inside at night. And the parking isn’t great. This also isn’t the most ideal place to study for a test.
What to order: Iced Chai? Idk. The hot chocolate is way too sweet though.

 

 

STARBUCKS- Sorry.

When to go: Okay I know this puts the validity of this entire post in jeopardy but I don’t care. Starbucks is always awesome. CHRISTMAS CUPS.
When not to go: I think I might need to cut back. I’m a gold card member but I’m going to stop using the Starbucks rewards system. I didn’t realize I had a problem until we saw Starbucks in Turkey for the first time and I started hyperventilating was almost crying tears of joy. Such happiness should not be felt over the presence of an overpriced coffee chain.
What to order: Iced tea is the cheapest.

Honorable Mentions:

Cenote has beer

Cenote has beer

Vintage Heart – The coffee comes in mason jars! But I feel like I have to whisper when I’m there.
Genuine Joe – Meh.
Epoch (on Anderson) – Smells weird.
Epoch (near Koenig) – No.
Thunderbird (on Koenig) – No outlets
Thunderbird (on Manor) – Pretty outside
Cenote – It’s nice to sit outside. They have good food.
Mozart’s – Christmas lights!! And there’s a lake.
Caffe Medici (on Guad) – What’s with the chairs
Flightpath – Meh.
Pacha – Claustrophobia
Stinson’s - Creepily empty all the time

 

I hope you’ve found this helpful. You probably haven’t, though, because everything I’ve said is incredibly subjective. Oh well.