Austin Coffee Shop Hunt #1: Epoch Coffee

Epoch Coffee in Austin TexasWhen it comes to living in Austin, coffee shops are a way of life. Austin is filled with different kinds of people, yet here you can find coffee shops that accommodate even our weirdest denizens.

Got a friend who loves martial arts? Send ’em to Kick Butt Coffee. Looking to impress a fine young lady on your first date? Maybe Mozart’s is the place for you. And if you’re looking to change the world, well, Dominican Joe is the place to go. They are ridiculously passionate about their support of non-profits in the Dominican Republic. What I’m getting at is simple: coffee is more than a drink in Austin. It is an expression of our individual identities and values.

So now I am on a mission to find Austin’s most unique coffee shops. And I need your help. This is an Austin blog, so I want to experience real Austin coffee shops.

Your feedback has been invaluable for the Tex-Mex Food Challenge. I could rattle off dozens of dishes I would have never tasted if not for your suggestions. I’m talking about cow tongues, barbacoa and menudo. As a kid from the Hawaiian islands, navigating the world of Tex-Mex has been difficult, but every day I am learning more and more.

Coffee is much closer to home for me. Everybody knows about Kona coffee, and for good reason. We drink the good stuff back home. I’ve been drinking coffee for years now, and I hope to bring my knowledge to my blog posts. All I need from you are names and directions. Where do you get your coffee?

Lately, I’ve been spending my time at Epoch Coffee on North Loop Blvd. As a college student, sleep is a luxury I usually can’t afford. I’ve got papers to write, tests to cram for, books to read and essays to research. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I have been shooed out of a thousand Starbucks and libraries after closing time with my nose still in a book.

That’s when I head to Epoch, a 24/7 Austin coffee shop. Here I have burnt the midnight oil, ran out of oil, then filled my lamp with coffee and burnt that instead. It’s the perfect hideaway if you’re a night owl or stressed-out grad student.

Coffee and cigarettes at Epoch Coffee Austin

Coffee tastes better when it’s served in pints.

I love Epoch Coffee for its eclectic feel and homey atmosphere, but so does everybody else in Austin. UT students flock to this place in droves. It’s absolutely packed during midterm and finals week. It’s kind of weird because studying at Epoch is pretty difficult. The music is loud and off the wall, so I often find it hard to concentrate on my text books. That’s the price you pay for studying at three in the morning, I guess.

Aside from the college kids, though, Epoch is populated by regulars who use the coffee shop for various reasons. Some people read books or blog using Epoch’s free wifi. Others play tabletop or computer games with one another. Others just drink coffee and brood, as Austin coffee shop patrons are wont to do sometimes. The regulars at Epoch are what make it such a unique place. You will hear some crazy stories here. Everybody from entire steam-punk families to burned-out roadies to social revolutionaries call Epoch their home away from home.

The wooden deck outside Epoch is perfect on a peaceful Austin night, though it’s reserved for smokers. That is where most of the crazy stories are told. The inside tends to be filled with macbooks, American Apparel and TOMS shoes, if you catch my drift. Outside, non-smokers are tucked into a tiny area next to a vintage clothes store and a record shop.

The chairs inside and outside of Epoch are mismatched and bohemian, and the tables are strewn haphazardly across the shop. But my favorite part about Epoch is its bathrooms. Graffiti is encouraged, so long as it’s well done and in keeping with the respective themes. Most contributions are quotes people have remembered and felt like sharing with later bathroom users.

Graffiti art in the bathroom of Epoch Coffee

One bathroom is devoted totally to quotes about Hell. L’enfer, c’est les autres!

The coffee at Epoch is hit or miss, and it will cost you around four dollars for a regular cup of coffee. The barista will have you choose between a light blend and a dark blend. Both tend to taste good, yet are somewhat non-descript. Nothing to write home about. Not bad at all, though.

You can order other drinks like tea and juice as well. While you’re at it, be sure to order a slice of pizza. My favorite is the Moon Tower, a goat cheese pizza. Finish with some blueberry pie.

Bottom line: Epoch Coffee is the place to go if you need to work through the night. Don’t become too focused, though. Get to know the people around you, especially outside. The atmosphere and regular patrons make Epoch a place worth coming back to. Aside from the regulars, you’ll find a sea of students who want to study and socialize. The coffee is decent and the food is alright too.

Check it out at 221 W North Loop Blvd. Austin, TX 78751.


Austinot Dusty asks:
What would you like to see in an Austinot coffee shop review series?


Photos are property of genial23, Tyler Riti and Victhor Viking, respectively.

Epoch Coffee on Urbanspoon

  • Mike

    Epoch’s iced coffee is what sets it apart, in my opinion. Also, if you’re looking to study go to Flightpath nearby which is much quieter (though the coffee isn’t as good).

    • Dustin Vegas

      Their iced coffee is pretty good. You’re right about that. That’s what I have been ordering on these hot Texas days. As for Flightpath, it looks like the older brother of Epoch who went straight into the military after high school. He’s pretty subdued and serious about what he does, and meanwhile his rowdy younger brother raises Hell every night a few blocks over.

  • Claire Rodriguez

    La Tazza Fresca, on the corner of Guadalupe and 27th, has always been my favorite! Low key, quiet, tons of latte choices, and bottomless coffee if you need it.

    • Dustin Vegas

      La Tazza Fresca? I have driven past that place countless times, but I have never stopped by for a coffee. Anything you would recommend in particular?

      • Claire Rodriguez

         I used to always get the Caramel Vanilla Latte, but the barista who made it best left. Nowadays I just get a plain ol’ (cheaper) coffee…they brew it with cinnamon sticks.

  • Gtsallier

    What truly sets Epoch apart is the staff.  Any time you go there, if one o the baristas is on break, she or he is outside smoking a cigarette and talking to each other or one of their regulars.  They make a point to “get to know” their clientele- go there enough and they’ll know your face and name.  If the coffee shops in Austin were a rowdy group of rag-tag ne’er-do-wells in a made-for-tv kid’s movie about a sports team down on its luck or a social club losing its hang out spot to gentrification, Epoch would be that punk kid with a heart of gold.  The overall feel of epoch is far more homey than the uptight artisan airs of Bennu or the drab hackery of Flightpath.

    Their coffee may be drab, but that only applies to their drip coffee.  They have a fully functional espresso maker, and though it isn’t on the menu you can order a “dirty chai” – a chai latte with a shot of espresso.  Try it.

    • Dustin Vegas

      I will definitely try the dirty chai. You’re right about Epoch being the down-on-his-luck punk kid whose got spirit. That’s one of my favorite qualities about the place. I feel that it encapsulates a bit of Austin’s rebellious and independent spirit. Thanks for the awesome comment.

  • Kitty

    You’ll definitely have to check out Strange Brew. They’re a South Austin 24/7 coffee shop on Manchaca.

    • Dustin Vegas

      Another 24/7?! I am on it. What do you recommend? 

      • Kitty

        Their signature drink is called Strange Brew, which of course has to be tried! Being a sweet freak, I always have white chocolate added into it. On hot days that I end up out on the back patio, I’ll get the frozen Mocha Latte and add the make it creamy option! When I’m not trying to get overly sugared and caffeinated, I go for the Turkish Spice Mint tea.

  • Mark

    I’ve tried coffee all over town and the best I’ve ever had is Summermoon Coffee. It’s wood-fired and that really does seem to make a difference.

    • Guest

      Summermoon Coffee? I hadn’t heard of it. I will definitely check it out though! And it’s right on South First, which is cool.

  • Trina

    I dig Epoch. I’ve only been once, but really dug the atmosphere & mocha! Made me sort of wish I was a college student again. Sort of.

    My go-to spots for coffee are Whole Foods – Lamar, Austin Java & Monkey Nest Coffee. I’m sure there’s plenty of other awesome places to go, but these locales seem to be friendlier when it comes to bringing a 5 year old along for the ride. I can’t wait to read reviews for other coffee spots, there’s so many here in Austin compared to Dallas (where I was *unfortunately* born & raised). I haven’t been to a Starbucks since moving to ATX & that’s a good thing! 😉

    • Dustin

      Drinking Starbucks coffee in Austin is almost punishable by exile. Good thing you haven’t tried one in town yet. What would people say?!

      Thanks for the tips, Trina. I haven’t had any of the coffee at Whole Foods, but it is officially on my list now. Are there any drinks you would specifically suggest?

      • Trina

        “punishable by exile”, so true! haha

        Honestly, their regular drip coffee is awesome. At just $1.79 for a medium, it’s truly a great deal for such a tasty, fair-trade blend. It’s got to be their water or something, because I bought their private label coffee beans (Three Beans Coffee in Light Roast, 14 oz for $4.99) & I can’t seem to get it to taste the same! I’ve even used spring water.Let us know what you think! :)

  • Haleigh Burger

    I love Epoch’s.  It’s so nice to have a place to hang out at when I get off of work too late.

    • Dustin Vegas

      It’s a haven for servers, bartenders and drunk people after both the restaurants and bars close!

  • Kitty

    I’d also love to see a review of Ruta Maya! I keep hearing about them, but have never made it by.

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  • koderken

    Try Cenote Coffee on E. Cesar Chavez.  Great ambience, reasonable prices, good hipster people-watching, and decent coffee (if you care for Cuvee’s beans.)

  • monger

    Thanks for the great review,

    As a employee there I feel I should mention a regular coffee there will run you $1.75 to $2.25 with $.50 refills

    • Brittany Highland

      Hey @disqus_x5ar07pegf:disqus , glad you found the review! Thanks for the heads-up on the coffee/refill prices. Definitely a steal!

  • calmond

    I’ll have to try this place out! I’ve visited Flightpath twice now and feel that it is almost “missing” something and the coffee is “meh…” though the laid back atmosphere is nice. I’ll have to try Epoch one weekend when I’m feeling particularly “late night and spunky!”

  • Elaine M. Prout

    Hot Rod Coffee Trailer located at 6546 Burnet Road. Great coffee, food, service and a fun place to hang out or have a car meet-up!

    • Brittany Highland

      Thanks for the heads-up, @elainemprout:disqus. I hadn’t heard of Hot Rod Coffee before. Maybe we can get @DustinVegas:disqus over there for a review. :)

      • Elaine M. Prout

        They do their shows every other Saturday (next one is 9/14) and get some great cars and bikes out there. They have them starting at about 9 until 11. Check them out!

  • vrw

    Hot rod coffee trailer on burnet rd. Yum

  • Aguirre Bell

    I would suggest Hot rod coffee trailer in burnet road.They sell good coffees and the beans that they are using are organic and aside from friendly staff they offer good customer service.The hotdog is amazingly good too if you go there lunch time.What I love about them is my favorite nutcase latte and paired them with sandwiches or mango madness hotdog.They have a beautiful sitting area on the corner and cool music. I bring my book and sit in their swing. I love hanging out here during my day off.I worked in North Austin medical center and in our floor its always busy and I cannot function without coffee but I hate buying in the bistro bec.of the average coffee starbucks offered I wish we have HCT close by I wouldn’t mind getting one everyday.The prices also is relatively cheap.

    • Brittany Highland

      Thanks for the insight, @aguirrebell:disqus! A Nutcase Latte? What’s that all about? It sounds exciting, and like something I would like. :)

      • Aguirre Bell

        It is a latte made with hazel nut. The taste is really good! just thinking about it right now I am craving for it. I live in Round Rock area and though it is a little far but once a week I got to get this and I don’t mind driving there once a week to satisfy my addiction.

  • Build A Sofa

    You have to go see Ken and Michael at Hot Rod Coffee Trailer. Even if they werent 3 doors down, I wouldnt be able to stay away from the delicious goodness of their iced toddy.