Austin coffee shops come in many different shapes and sizes. You can find them in strip malls and shady groves. Today I’m delighted to review Genuine Joe Coffee, a house-turned-coffee-shop with a unique concept of its own.
I haven’t seen a city that enjoys renovating houses into businesses as much as Austin, Texas. It’s pretty rad, I admit. There is a type of informal and rejuvenating je ne sais quoi that comes with ripping out the carpet of an old two bedroom to set up shop. Because Genuine Joe is among Austin’s transformed houses, it’s much more down to Earth than anything you’ll ever see at Starbucks.
I’ll break Genuine Joe’s features down for you:
As its name suggests, Genuine Joe Coffee is not a high-profile coffee shop. It’s a place for Joes and Janes to relax, drink and chat on a relaxed evening. Upon entering the front door, you’ll notice the couches surrounding a cold, white fireplace. You will likely see people stuffed into couch cushions and perched atop bar stools as they compete for power outlets. The building was designed for a family, after all. It’s hard for such a building to accommodate the power needs of coffee shop patrons on a Friday night.
I appreciate Joe’s soft and relaxed interior. The white, brown and tan seating compliments the mint walls and white ceiling. Prayer flags hang above the kitchen that was once, well, a kitchen. There is a low-key vibe permeating the entire establishment which can turn away people who like fast-paced and urban coffee shops. But there are many nooks and crannies waiting for you to curl into with a book.
In my experience, the baristas are kind and helpful, even a bit playful at times. To be honest, baristas freak me out a bit. There is an archetype in my mind of the pretentious barista, one who scoffs when I mispronounce my coffee’s country of origin. You may have a similar person in your mind. Much to my appreciation, the baristas at Joe’s are inordinately helpful and kind. They stop to talk about their various drinks and suggested their favorite ones.
While the baristas are very accommodating, they do not accept credit or debit cards for orders beneath five dollars. They will gladly accept cash for such orders, or you can start a tab. This can grate people the wrong way, since even the bottomless coffee at Joe’s is only $2.99. Credit card fees can ruin an unwary coffee shop, though, so try to cut them some slack and go prepared. Genuine Joe also offers a member loyalty card that you can use as well.
Genuine Joe Coffee occasionally hosts bands in its back rooms. This can make seating even more cramped at those times. The building is divided into the main cafe, the Boardroom (which can hold up to ten people) and the Cellar (which can hold up to thirty people).
I enjoy hanging out in both areas and I have met very nice people at Joe’s who have been regulars for years. They told me that it’s possible to reserve a back room for a group or event for no charge, so this is the place for your next book club or Magic: The Gathering meeting. You can also set up shop on Joe’s spacious outdoor patio if weather permits.
Genuine Joe receives its coffee beans from Kiva Coffee Roasters in Buda, Texas. Way to keep local business local, eh? As with every coffee shop in Austin, I’ve heard people both praise and rant about the coffee at Joe’s. I’ve tried a simple espresso, and think it’s a solid shot. Deep and earthy.
While I enjoyed my espresso greatly, I have sampled a few other drinks as well. I’ve noticed that some of their blended drinks and lattes are somewhat weak. The coffee flavor is not prominent. Genuine Joe also serves pastries, sandwiches and other food as well.
The Take Away
Genuine Joe Coffee is the place I go when I want to study or read a book in peace. The patrons and staff are friendly, and happy to either chat or leave me alone. Don’t come here if you want a roaring good time, unless you reserve a back room for yourself and your friends. Check it out at 2001 West Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757.
What do you think of Genuine Joe Coffee? What coffee shop should I check out next?
Photos courtesy of Roger Shaw, alamosbasement and joediev, respectively.