Flat Track Coffee

Pointing the way to good coffee, the sign outside Flat Track Coffee in Austin.By making Flat Track Coffee my first speciality coffee stop in Austin, I was following in the footsteps of my friend Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato fame. Not only was I using Bex’s Austin Speciality Coffee Guide as my roadmap, but Flat Track Coffee had been her first stop as well. Co-located with bike shop, Cycleast, Flat Track is on Cesar Chavez Street, a main east-west thoroughfare through East Austin.

When Bex visited in 2018, Flat Track roasted all of its own coffee in the back of the store. Since then, the roasting has been moved to sister shop, Palomino Coffee (which, sadly, I didn’t have time to visit), freeing up much needed additional interior seating to go with outdoor seating on the forecourt in front of Flat Track, along with the gorgeous hidden patio along the building’s left-hand side.

Flat Track offers a blend and single-origin on espresso, along with batch-brew filter and pour-over, all the coffee changing on a seasonal basis. Espresso shots are pulled on a lovely Kees van der Westen Mirage, while pour-overs are made through the Kalita Wave using the Curtis Gold Cup automated system. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes/pastries.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Next to a gas station on E Cesar Chavez Street in Austin, with its colourful mural...
  • ... is Flat Track Coffee. There's a seating area at the front, but let's look at the mural...
  • ... which runs down the side of the building. When I was there on a sunny Saturday...
  • ... my view was obscured by two parked cars...
  • ... although I got a better view when I returned on a rainy Monday evening.
  • The portrait at the end is of the singer Selena Quintanilla Pérez.
  • This was how I approached Flat Track on my first visit, walking up from the river.
  • On my return on Monday, walking along Cesar Chavez Street, there's this handy sign.
  • However I arrived, it was difficult to get a decent photo of the front thanks to the...
  • ... parked cars. I could either get a shot from the left...
  • ... or from the right. You're welcome to sit on the bench under the window...
  • ... although a better option would be this  enclosed seating area between Flat Track and...
  • ... the parked cars. There's a choice of the bar running around two sides or the two tables.
  • Wherever you sit, you have to go inside to order: coffee to the left...
  • ... and bikes to the right. This is Cycleast, a separate bike shop that shares the space.
  • Flat Track and its busy counter are off to the left, with more seating at the back.
  • That said, there is a window bar at the front...
  • ... with views of the outdoor seating terrace and the parked cars.
  • There's a large gap between the window and the counter, but this is normally where...
  • ... you'll find a long line queuing at the counter. I had to wait for ever to get this shot!
  • There's also a set of retail shelves here next to the concise menu (and a motorcycle).
  • The cakes are displayed on the counter next to the till. It was a busy Saturday morning!
  • Once you've ordered, more along, pausing only to admire the Kees van der Westen...
  • ... two-group Mirage espresso machine which sits on the corner with its three grinders.
  • If you linger here, you get a good view of the business end of the machine.
  • The retail shelves at the front are mostly for coffee: there's more merchandising here.
  • Once you've got your coffee, find yourself a seat. There's this large area at the back...
  • ... of Flat Track Coffee, starting with this row of four stools at the counter.
  • If you prefer tables, there are two-person ones (left) and six-person ones (right)...
  • ... as well as a three-person bar towards the back. Finally, there is a...
  • ... pair of sofas against the back wall. Best of the all, though, is that door in the corner...
  • ... which leads into Flat Track's secret patio (which is secret despite the clear signs!).
  • This runs down the side of Flat Track and extends a little beyond the building.
  • The view towards the front of the patio, where there's a door to the gas station forecourt.
  • The door from the gas station forecourt, seen from the outside, where it's well disguised!
  • Meanwhile, this well-camouflaged door is the one from Flat Track that we saw in the corner.
  • Despite the concrete floor and breeze block walls, it's a green and pleasant space.
  • This was probably my favourite of the plants in the patio.
  • Inside there are also plenty of plants as well as banners on the walls. This is at the front...
  • ... while this Pegasus is at the back. However, I'll leave you with my coffee, starting with...
  • ... a cortado, served in a glass from my first visit on Saturday morning...
  • ... which had some very long-lasting latte art...
  • ... and my post-work pour-over from my return on Monday evening.
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On the south side of Cesar Chavez Street, near its junction with Chalmers Avenue, Flat Track Coffee was a convenient 20-minute stroll from my riverside hotel. It occupies the left-hand side of a long, single-storey building set back from the road next to the gas station on the corner, with Cycleast taking up the right-hand half.

There are five parking spaces in front of Flat Track and Cycleast, arranged so that you can pull in from the street. There’s then a gap on the right, in front of Cycleast, while to the left, in front of Flat Track, there’s a neat seating area, an L-shaped bar separating it from the parking at the front and the gas station to the left. Six tall stools line the front of the bar, three more down the side, while the enclosed space is occupied by two wooden picnic-style tables.

Broad glass double doors lead into Flat Track/Cycleast, with a narrow wooden bench running under the large window to the left of the door. Inside, a dividing wall which starts about a third of the way back, splits the building into two equal halves. On the right are the bicycles of Cycleast, while on the left, set well back from the window against the left-hand wall, is Flat Track’s large counter. A four-person window-bar runs the width of Flat Track’s half of the store, although it’s only really used when it’s quiet since the queue (which often snakes around into Cycleast’s half of the store) makes it impossible to sit there. There’s also a retail area against the left-hand wall between counter and window, with merchandising and retail bags of coffee.

You order at the front of the counter, where you’ll find the till on the left, with the menu on the left-hand wall. You then move to your right, pausing to admire the Kees van der Westen two-group Mirage espresso machine on the corner, before collecting your coffee down the right-hand side. You can then take your pick of the seating, starting with the four tall stools running along the back of the counter, ideal for barista watching.

Beyond the counter, a large space runs all the way to the back of the store, once home to the roastery. These days it houses the bulk of the indoor seating, with two six-person communal tables on the right and a row of four two-person tables along the left-hand wall, culminating in a three-person bar. Finally, against the back wall, two sofas face each other across a low coffee table.

Tucked away in the back, left-hand corner between the bar and the back of one of the sofas is the door the patio, a lovely, sheltered space running along the back of the left-hand side of the building. It even has its own entrance from the back of the gas station forecourt. Entering this way, there’s a row of four-person picnic-style tables against the left-hand wall. Opposite these is the cunningly-disguised door at the back of Flat Track, followed by another two of the tables, the first against the right-hand wall, while the second extends beyond the back of the building. Shade is provided by a series of large, yellow sheets strung between the walls, a similar system to the one at the front of Flat Track.

I visited twice, starting with a very busy Saturday morning, when I had my first speciality coffee in Austin. This was a cortado, made with the house blend, and served in a glass. A rich, complex, coffee with some long-lasting latte art, it was the perfect introduction of Austin’s speciality coffee scene. I returned after work on Monday evening to try a pour-over, sampling a Kenyan single-origin which had just come on that day. A lovely, rich coffee, with a dark, smoky (in a good way) aftertaste, it was just what I needed to wind down after work.

On my second visit, I bought a bag of the Rwandan Kanzu Washed (I really wanted the Kenyan that I’d had as my pour-over, but it wasn’t yet available in retail bags). I took this with me on my trip to New Orleans, where it ended up as a gift for the staff at Congregation Coffee Roasters.

https://flattrackcoffee.com +1 512 540 6040
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Flat Track Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Counter, Sofas; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 07:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 12th, 14th November 2022

If you want to see what Bex made of Flat Track, check out her Austin Speciality Coffee Guide (Flat Track is the fourth entry).

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2 thoughts on “Flat Track Coffee

  1. Pingback: 2022 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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