When 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.
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.
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.