Darren Olagues is an avid coffee enthusiast with a passion for uncovering hidden gems. In the following article, Darren J. Olagues explores Houston’s neighborhood coffee shops, delving into the enchanting world of distinct flavor within the area’s bustling cultural landscape.
Houston knows how to keep its 2.3 million residents caffeinated.
While it may not be on any lists of the best coffee cities in the U.S. — yet —it’s easy to get a satisfying and unique brew in Texas’ biggest city, from perfect cold brews and iced chai lattes to a delicious cortado or Americano.
Darren Olagues provides some insights, personal favorites, and delightful discoveries that make Houston’s coffee culture truly extraordinary.
Darren J. Olagues on Catalina Coffee and Amaya Roasting Co.
Catalina and Amaya founder Max Gonzalez is something of a god in Houston’s modern coffee scene. Motivated by the generic coffee shops he saw — and worked at — in the city 20 years ago, Gonzalez opened his distinctive coffee shops that offer drinks from the high-quality beans Gonzalez roasts himself.
Darren J. Olagues explains that Catalina’s menu is small on purpose, streamlined to offer the brews they are most proud of, with offerings coming straight from Amaya and garnering consistent praise for its complexity and flavorful depth and balance.
There’s something to be said about the comfort factor of a coffee shop. The drinks can be fantastic, but if the environment isn’t cozy enough to enjoy a newspaper or book in peace or if the décor is sterile and uninviting, no perfect cup of coffee can lure customers in.
Darren J. Olagues says that’s why Houston natives love Agora and its lived-in feel — antique décor, large art pieces and a patio shaded by a beautiful garden to sample its renowned cappuccino in the Texas sun.
Arguably Houston’s best-known coffee shop and roaster, Boomtown focuses on coffee that is both artisanal and small batch but produced ethically. Though it has several retail operations throughout Houston, Boomtown is still thought of as a neighborhood coffee café, with favorites including the Mayan mocha, café au lait, and the Americano.
Darren J. Olagues notes that a bonus is its food; who doesn’t want to try fried egg tacos?
Siphon is an experience. Its assortment of espresso-based drinks and hand-crafted brews are created using a siphon. It’s not just a gimmick; siphon-made coffee is often richer and fuller-bodied and requires just the right touch and temperature for an exquisite brew.
Darren J. Olagues explains that Siphon has grown to include a line-up of regular singer-songwriter showcases, giving it a throwback coffee shop feel.
Beloved by locals and tourists alike, Tout Suite offerings a large number of drinks and baked goods in a large converted downtown warehouse. Frequently described as “hip,” Tout Suite still has a spacious and comfortable vibe that is accommodating to all, not just coffee hipsters. People keep coming back for the flat whites and cappuccinos, as well as its extensive food menu offering everything from soups and salads to macarons and tarts.
Segundo Coffee Lab
Darren J. Olagues asks if anyone has ever heard of a La Mexicana? If not, that’s because it is probably only found at this popular coffee spot with a trendy boho atmosphere and creative drinks. After trying the La Mexicana, a honey vanilla latte with cinnamon, go for the Pinguino, which uses oat milk along with dark and white mocha.
The more adventurous may be tempted by the drinks infused with CBD or Delta 8. Go ahead, we won’t tell. Segundo’s iced lattes are the perfect fix during a sweltering hot Houston summer.
Giant Leap Coffee
Darren J. Olagues says that with two Houston locations — the East End and Uptown Park — Giant Leap offers locally roasted coffee from Amaya but also has a rotating specialty roasts menu sourced from the best roasters in the United States. Houston snack and food companies, including Cafe Louie and Kickin’ Kombucha, provide the eats.
There are the coffee shop standards like single-origin espresso and cold brews, but there are also unique drinks like the Golden Milk, a delicious turmeric and ginger latte, and the Milky Way, inspired by the cafe sua da, a traditional iced milk coffee served throughout Vietnam.
A 2nd Cup
Darren J. Olagues notes that here, is coffee with a cause. For more than a decade, a portion of each purchase at A 2nd Cup goes to organizations committed to fighting the epidemic of human trafficking.
It also happens to be extremely affordable, starting at just $2.50 for specialty macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites made with hand-crafted syrups. The eclectic food menu includes cookies, tacos, grilled cheese paninis, and a breakfast plate that is perhaps one of the most satisfying early-morning dishes in the city.