Houndstooth Coffee, Downtown Austin

A classic espresso in a white espresso cup with an outline image of the State of Texas on the side.Today’s Saturday Snapshot, Houndstooth Coffee in downtown Austin, is the second in the series and shares a lot with the first, Devoción in New York City. Like Devoción, which was a block and a half from where I was working in New York, Houndstooth was just around the corner from where I was working in downtown Austin and, like Devoción, it was perpetually busy. I called in a few times, twice for morning coffee on my way to the office and on several other occasions during coffee breaks.

There are two options on espresso, a house blend and a single-origin, both of which change every day or so. There’s also batch brew filter and pour-over, although you have to know to ask for that. All the coffee is from Tweed Coffee Roasters, Houndstooth’s sister company, which is based in Dallas, where Houndstooth has three more locations to go with its five Austin coffee shops. While it’s mostly about the coffee, if you’re hungry, Houndstooth has breakfast tacos and a select of cakes/pastries.

Continue reading

Another Weekend in New Orleans

Traditional wrought iron balconies in the French Quarter of New Orleans.Two weeks ago, I spent a weekend in New Orleans, part of my week-long journey from Austin, Texas, to Portland, Maine. This was my third time in New Orleans with my Coffee Spot hat on, and my first since 2019. That followed an initial visit the year before, when I was making a similar long-distance train journey. That time I was going the other way, though, from Providence, Rhode Island, to Tucson, Arizona, a journey included a weekend in New Orleans, which inspired this post.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit New Orleans particularly hard, which has had a knock-on effect on the city’s speciality coffee scene. I found a much-changed city, and many of the places which I’d visited during my first two trips in 2018 and 2019 had closed. I arrived late on Friday night, coming by train from San Antonio. I then spent Saturday revisiting old haunts which had survived the pandemic, before spending Sunday exploring some of the new places which had opened since my previous visit and one which had been on my list since 2019. Finally, I popped into Mammoth Espresso on Monday morning on my way to the station to catch the train to Manassas.

Continue reading

Fleet Coffee, Webberville Road

A lovely cortado served in a glass at Fleet Coffee in Austin.Staying in Austin, today’s Saturday Short is Fleet Coffee, another from Bex’s Austin Speciality Coffee Guide. There’s not much to Fleet, which is at the left-hand end of a row of low, single-storey buildings on the south side of Webberville Road in East Austin. You order at the door to the right, then take a seat to the left, where there’s a four-person bar facing the street or a handful of shaded tables.

The real star is the coffee, Fleet bucking the roaster/coffee shop trend by using a rotating cast of three roasters, Sweet Bloom from Colorado, Brooklyn’s Parlor Coffee and Dune Coffee Roasters from Santa Barbara. There are two options on espresso and two more on pour-over (made through the Kalita Wave using the Curtis Gold Cup automated system), along with a single option on batch brew. If you’re hungry, there are breakfast tacos and a range of pastries.

Continue reading

Brian’s Travel Spot: Texas Eagle – Austin to San Antonio

The departures board at Austin Station, where there are a total of two trains a day, the northbound Texas Eagle in the morning and its southbound counterpart in the evening.Welcome to another instalment of Brian’s Travel Spot. You join me in Austin, Texas, at the start of a week-long train trip across America (although the last leg is by coach) that will see me reach Portland, Maine, just in time for Thanksgiving. My journey is spread over four days, going via New Orleans (where I’m spending the weekend) and Washington DC (where I’ll spend a day).

This Travel Spot covers the first leg of the journey, travelling on Amtrak Train No. 21, Texas Eagle, which runs daily between Chicago and San Antonio. However, I was only onboard from the second to last stop, Austin, my coach class ticket (booked six weeks in advance) costing me the princely sum of $6.

I’d been in Austin for the previous six days, having flown out from London for work. As soon as my meeting ended on Thursday afternoon, I headed to the station, stopping only for a pour-over at Merit Coffee on W 3rd Street, a convenient 10-minute stroll from the station (or so I thought). Then I carried on to the station, arriving in plenty of time for my 18:30 departure. Except, as you will see, my train was somewhat late.

Continue reading

Devoción, Flatiron District

A flat white in my HuskeeCup, made with the Honey blend at Devoción in the Flat Iron District.Welcome to a new, occasional feature for the Coffee Spot, the Saturday Snapshot, Coffee Spots that, for one reason or another, I’m unable to do a full write-up on. The inaugural Saturday Snapshot features Devoción, one of many places from my recent trip to New York City. Devoción is a coffee shop/roaster chain that works directly with farmers in Colombia, where it owns a coffee mill. There are four coffee shops, three in Brooklyn and the subject of today’s Saturday Snapshot, on E 20th Street in the Flat Iron District.

Devoción has two options on espresso, plus decaf, batch brew filter and, from memory, two options on pour-over through the Kalita Wave filter. A beautiful space, with plenty of seating, it was consistently full and busy the three times that I visited, which is why I wasn’t able to do a full write up or get very many pictures.

Continue reading

For the Good of the People, Euston Station

For the Good of the People's logo, taken from the menu board at the stall at London Euston Station.For the Good of the People is part of the Real Food Market on Euston Station forecourt, directly opposite the station’s main entrance, an excellent spot for a pre-/post-train coffee (except for Mondays, when it’s closed). The set up is pretty simple, just a stall at the left-hand end of the Real Food Market stalls, serving espresso-based drinks along with a selection of retail bags of coffee. Unsurprisingly, it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

For the Good of the People uses its bespoke Canopy blend, its standard espresso-based menu having a commendably simple pricing policy (one price for with milk, another for black). There’s also tea, a range of iced coffees (all at one price) and, for a small supplement, alternative milks. Although there’s no seating at the stall, you can take a seat at any of the approximately 20 picnic-style tables on the forecourt.

Continue reading

CSONS Shrewsbury

The CSONS logo, the letters "CSONS" written in blue (with the C in yellow) inside two concentric blue circles.CSONS has been a fixture of Shrewsbury’s coffee scene since 2015, when it opened as a coffee shop, serving primarily coffee and cakes. Since then, it’s evolved into a full-service restaurant and has opened a second location down the A49 in Ludlow. CSONS came to my attention through Hundred House Coffee, which provides CSONS’ bespoke house blend, available through a standard, espresso-based menu along with Hundred House’s regular decaf. There’s also tea from Hereford’s Trumpers Tea and a fully-stocked bar with local beers, cider and cocktails.

When it comes to food, CSONS has separate menus for breakfast (to 11:30), lunch (12:00 – 15:00) and dinner (15:00 onwards on Friday/Saturday only). The food is innovative, ranging from breakfast standards through to small plates for lunch/dinner so that you can mix-and-match your way through the menu (large plates are also available if you just want a regular meal!). You’re also welcome to pop in for coffee and cake (available all day).

All of this is served in a lovely space which occupies the ground floor of an old building on Milk Street. The seating is spread across multiple rooms, including a large, sheltered courtyard at the back if you want to sit outside.

Continue reading

Koja Coffee

My flat white, made with the house blend at Koja Coffee, in my blue Therma Cup.Today’s Coffee Spot is part Saturday Short, part Coffee Spot update, featuring a familiar name in unfamiliar surroundings, part of Guildford’s ever-changing speciality coffee scene. Regular readers will remember Koja Coffee, which took over from Surrey Hills Coffee on Jeffries Passage in the summer of 2020. In June this year, Koja abruptly disappeared from Jeffries Passage only to reappear inside New House, a recently-opened space for artists and creatives on Fays Passage.

Although the setting is very different, Koja occupying a counter inside the entry lobby to New House, there’s the same basic offering, with a house blend on espresso (roasted for Koja by friends in Suffolk) plus single-origins from NewGround on batch brew and pour-over through the V60. If you’re hungry, Koja has the usual array and cakes and pastries, while fans of the Scandi market which was such a favourite on Jeffries Passage will not be disappointed, since it’s survived the move. The main difference (for now) is that Koja is only serving in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

Continue reading

Marathon Coffee, Chelsea

Details from the mural above the take away station in Marathon Coffee on 6th Avenue, local artist. Hannah Benson (@hanbenz_art) showing people drinking coffee on the street.Today’s Saturday Short is unusual on three levels. Firstly, it’s a New York City coffee shop which isn’t a coffee shop/roaster. What’s more, it’s using an out-of-state roaster, Providence’s Bolt Coffee, rather than one of the usual suspects from Brooklyn. Thirdly and finally, it has the rare distinction (for this trip) of being somewhere I found myself rather than a recommendation from Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato.

Marathon Coffee is a fairly new chain of three coffee shops and, for once, I visited the original, which is on 6th Avenue, half a block from my hotel and on my way to the office, which is how I discovered it, popping in for a flat white on my last day. “Popping in” is the correct term by the way, since Marathon is small, with just the counter and no seating.

Bolt Coffee’s Seven Hills blend is on espresso, while there are two bespoke house blends (also roasted by Bolt) on batch brew, along with a range of seasonal specials and hot teas. Marathon has breakfast tacos from Uptaco (available until they’re all gone) along with a selection of cakes and pastries. Since it’s takeaway only, don’t forget to bring your own cup.

Continue reading

An Homage to New York City’s Lost Coffee Shops

The Empire State Building in New York City, seen at dusk looking south from the top of the Rockefeller Center As I was wandering around New York City on my most recent trip, I strolled along W 20th Street in Chelsea, one time home to an old favourite, Café Grumpy, which I’d been particularly looking forward to re-visiting. On seeing the gutted interior of the now closed shop, I got to thinking about some of my other favourite NYC coffee shops which had closed over the years.

To my surprise, this turned out to be a rather long list, which led me to make this post, an homage to New York City’s lost coffee shops. Some of these were victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others fell foul of landlords who didn’t want to renew the lease. One is even a success story, with Café Integral closing its original location inside a clothing store to open its own coffee shop a couple of blocks away.

Continue reading