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Thursday, June 13, 2024 — Houston, TX

The best coffee shops in Houston, according to a barista

Photo by Christina Tan | The Rice Thresher
A latte at Blacksmith, located in Montrose.

By Sydney Garrett     1/15/19 9:28pm

Hello, Coffee Plebeians of Rice University. How’s it going? Are your classes off to an okay start? Be honest — how many Nutty Bees have you bought so far this semester? If your tetra is gone, and you’re tired of the dead-eyed stares you get on Fondy 6th, maybe it’s time to venture off campus for some sweet, fresh study grinds. I know we all love the ~vibes~ at Chaüs, but sometimes (only sometimes) it’s worthwhile to get your fix outside of the hedges. As a maker (and keeper) of coffee, I hope to provide you with a unique look at some of the best (and worst) coffee shops around Houston.


As a lifelong pessimist, I’ll start this list off with one of my least favorite shops in the city. Agora is a bar and coffee shop combo — but also they have belly dancers sometimes? I find myself here when literally every other coffee shop I enjoy more is closed (Agora closes at 2 a.m.) and when I can’t bring myself to go to Fondren. The lighting is depressingly minimal, the tables are weirdly low and the $5 minimum on credit card charges means that your trip to Agora might not be as pleasant as you might hope.

A 2nd Cup

You will have to drive at least 15 minutes to get to A 2nd Cup, but it’s probably worth it. The tables are aplenty, the space is large and the cause is good. A 2nd Cup will donate all of its profits to support survivors of human trafficking, according to its website. Sip good coffee, study biochemistry and feel really good about yourself too. 


Blacksmith is small, and while you may be hard-pressed to find a good spot in the space, the quality of coffee makes up for it. They also have biscuits. Really, really good biscuits. Bring your parents or a date to Blacksmith, and they’ll be impressed by your coffee snobbery. Plus, the baristas are so trendy that they put Coffeehouse KOCs to shame. 

Catalina Coffee

I’m not sure if Catalina has a motto, but if they did, it would probably be “disconnect to connect.” Catalina has no visible, accessible outlets and no wifi, which might be a dealbreaker for some of the less data-endowed among us. But, they do have delicious iced tea and beautiful wooden benches. Roll up to Catalina with a good book or a great friend and ball out.

Inversion Coffee & Art

Inversion was my absolute favorite coffee shop for a long time. Bright and airy, it’s connected to an art gallery that’s open over the weekend. Parking can be a disaster, but finding a spot to park your booty is much easier because there are tons of seats (and tons of outlets). They have interesting specialty drinks, like the honey badger and toaster latte. Plus, they serve gelato! 

Siphon Coffee

To be fair to all of you diligent, ethical Thresher readers, I might be slightly biased* against Siphon, because I went all the time during the summer of 2017 while I was studying for the MCAT. So my memories of it are tinged with sadness and Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. However, putting all of that aside, seats are really hard to come by, and the drinks are pretty pricey, but the food is good and so are the baristas. 

*This is an article written about coffee by a member of the Chaüs Fäm. Go to Yelp if you want an unbiased review.

Campesino Coffee House

Campesino is located inside of an antique, repurposed house, which means that there are lots of nooks and crannies where you can hide while you’re sobbing into your textbook of choice. The food is good, and the drinks are interesting. Some baristas are better than others, so you’re never really sure what kind of coffee experience you’ll have. Campesino can get a little stuffy if you’re planning on camping out there for a while, so wear lots of layers.

Retrospect Coffee Bar

I. Love. Retrospect. And you will love Retrospect too! It’s an outdoor coffee shop, so stay away if it’s getting a little sweaty or humid outside. However, if you’re willing to brave the heat (or enjoy a beautiful day), you’ll be rewarded with paninis, crepes and Cafe de Olla (Mexican coffee). All very good things.


Morningstar is tucked away in a random little strip mall a ways away from campus. They have super interesting matcha drinks and vegan donuts that are a crowd Sydney-pleaser. This unfortunately won’t be the spot for you if you’re a night owl. Morningstar closes at 3 p.m. every day, but the early bird gets the worm anyways, right? Plus, (you didn’t hear it from me) the baristas there are pretty cute.

Rice Coffeehouse

Coffeehouse? I haven’t heard of her! I’ve been informed that I need to be unbiased in this article, but I honestly love Coffeehouse a lot so I’m not sure that I can do that for you. If you don’t want to leave campus, because, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t, you have a great coffee shop, right in your very own stomping grounds. Deal with the intense lines, random music, and avoiding eye contact with everyone you’ve ever known in your life, and have a fun time while you do it.

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