As you arrive at Thunderbird Coffee on Koenig, you’ll probably first notice how it glitzes up an otherwise drab street. Dogs and their owners may be lounging on the open-air patio. Bay windows cover most of the available wall space, allowing natural light to filter into the coffee house. The spacious interior of Thunderbird is marked by pastel-colored walls and obtuse hanging lanterns. If it’s not too packed, grab a seat at a table or couch.
Established in 2007, this coffee shop is where people come together – the type of place where you and yours can grab drinks and chat. Though the music may seem a bit too overbearing for casual studying, you’ll probably see many people clicking away at their laptops regardless. There aren’t many power outlets available, so those who do study will probably be planted for a while. The clientele is mostly composed of hip twenty-somethings who have time to kill. Still, the drinks and food at Thunderbird have cultivated a community of regulars of all ages.
What kind of drinks and food? The Thunderbird Coffee menu focuses on, well, coffee. Claiming to go “much farther than fair trade coffee,” this coffee shop uses a direct trade model, in which they deal directly with those who make their beans. Thunderbird claims that this model cuts out the middlemen and leaves no question about the amount of money the farmers and pickers are paid.
Then the coffee beans are roasted at local Austin coffee roasters like Cuvee Coffee Roasting Company in Spicewood, Texas. The baristas at Thunderbird are trained about every aspect of the roasting and preparation of your coffee. I also found them to be especially nice and funny for a hip Austin coffee house. I purchased a cup of their French press and found it very aromatic and rich. The specialty drinks like their Honey Nut Latte are popular. I tried it as well, and found it especially sweet, nutty and creamy.
Of all the Austin coffee shops, Thunderbird Coffee enjoys experimenting and learning more about coffee with customers. Swing by this location from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the weekend. That’s when Thunderbird Coffee offers its single-cup coffee bar. Every cup of coffee is painstakingly brewed and weighed according to the alternating methods they experiment with. The baristas work with two different types of coffee every week, so this is a great chance to sit down and talk coffee as you explore different recipes, styles and machines.
Truth be told, calling Thunderbird a coffee house may be somewhat of a misnomer. It should be called a coffee and beer cafe. Alongside the French press and espresso machines is a small tap serving local Austin craft beer and a cooler stocked with many different types of beer. With daily and weekly alcohol specials, and happy hour from 4-7 all week, the beer draws a large crowd.
There is a beer for nearly every enthusiast. Are you a college student on a budget? If so, you can take advantage of Thunderbird’s $1 Lone Stars every day. Is your palate a bit more refined? Thunderbird has higher-quality beer like Old Rasputin and Dogfish Head for you.
Thunderbird also offers a fair amount of grub to go along with its beverages. Get here early enough and you can snag a fresh breakfast taco from TacoDeli or one of multiple breakfast paninis or pastries. Aside from the breakfast fare, you’ll find sandwiches and salads.
The Takeaway: Thunderbird Coffee on Koenig is a happening place with upbeat music and a lot of flair. Come here with your friends. You’ll find some tasty and creative approaches to coffee, and local craft beer to enjoy. Check it out at 1401 Koenig Ln.
Have you ever been to Thunderbird Coffee?
Have you checked out our previous Austin coffee shop reviews?