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May 27, 2010 05:48 AM

Espresso in Austin

I was lucky enough to have spent the past month in Southern Italy where I consumed copious amounts of espresso. I'd like to know if there are any places serving anything remotely comparable in Austin. I'm not interested in any soy, vanilla, milk-based, nut-infused beverages. A simple, 25g espresso is all I'm looking for. Concentrated, balanced, great texture. I know there are some serious coffee geeks in Austin who go out of their way to source great beans, perfect their grinds, etc. I'm not expecting Sant'Eustachio, but a competent cup would be nice. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Ahhh San Eustachio and Tazza D'Oro. Quanto mi mancha....
    Personally, I like Bennu, Dolce Vita, and Frank for espresso. Teo and Dolce Vita both have very good cappucinos

    1206 W 38th St, Austin, TX 78705

    1. I usually drink cappuccino, not straight espressos, but the best ones (Cappuccinos) I have in Austin are at Once Over Coffee, Teo, Sodade, and Caffe Medici.

      1206 W 38th St, Austin, TX 78705

      Caffe Medici
      1101 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703

      1. Cafe Medici or the recently opened Houndstooth Coffee

        1. I guess I'm something of a coffee geek, having a modified Rancilio Silvia espresso machine and a manual La Pavoni here at home... Like you, I prefer either straight espresso or at most a macchiato.

          The most consistent place in town in my experience is Cafe Medici. Like they actually train their barristas or something. In fact I've heard they also enter competitions, which isn't something I hear of many shops doing.

          I've had a good espresso once at "Once Over Coffee". Maybe because they use the same supplier as Medici. They have a nice patio out back, but otherwise I wasn't crazy about the ambiance.

          The others I can mention like Green Muse, Teos, Clementine, Pacha, Epoch, Jos. I enjoy them all, but not compare any of them to the product you'll find at Medici.

          1206 W 38th St, Austin, TX 78705

          Green Muse Cafe
          519 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704

          2 Replies
          1. re: tummoi

            Is your Rancilio modified with the more accurate 3rd-party PID? At least I've read it's more accurate.

            1. re: chascates

              It is modified with a Fujitsu PID. I took the same approach as this guy: http://www.digidive.com/coffee/index....

          2. In my humble opinion, there are four places that in austin that do coffee right. We seem to be experiencing a coffee renaissance here; just over an year ago Cafe Medici was the only shop doing things right. Here they are in (my personal) order of preference.

            1. Once Over coffee bar: Great coffee, and seriously nice baristas/owners. They use cuvee coffee primarily (though they will occasionally play around with other coffees on the side). The most consistent shop I've found in austin (which might be becasue there are only 4 baristas total that ever work there). Their signature espresso (dead fingers) is an interesting combination of brazil, guatemala and el salvadorian coffees. Flavour profile is mostly deep red fruits (cherries) along with dark chocolate. Not super bright (which a lot of newer espressos are). The baristas (especially one of the owners Rob) are always willing to chat about coffee and will give you every detail imaginable (including how long they rest thier espresso before using it!). Drip coffee is french press only.

            2. Houndstooth coffee : Brand new shop opened around N Lamr and 45th by an ex-medici employee. USP : they use 3 great roasters (cuvee, Counter Culture and Intelligensia), and always have atleast 2 different espressos available. They serve meritage from Cuvee which is a very well balanced espresso - one of my favourites when done well. Their other offerings rotate around too much to describe, but I've had La Forza from Counter culture (exceptional super-dark roasted espresso) and the classic Black cat from Intelligesia. Shot quality has been inconsistent, but that might just be because the shop is new and juggling so many different coffees. Also do french press, syphon and pour overs

            3. Cafe medici : The original specialy coffee shop in town, and still very good. Their signature espresso medici by cuvee is quite bright, sometimes over-assertively leaning onto the side of lemon/citrus. Plus over the last year or so with the guadalupe store and lots of new baristas, the quality isn't always consistent between baristas (no one pulls terrible shots, but there's certainly a differnce between some of the best guys (like lorenzo for example) and the others). Medici Notte (speical event with SO espresso and specialty drinks)is an interesting concept and well worth trying out. French press only for drip.

            4. Frank's Coffee: Weird atmosphere- not very coffee-shop like. As far as the coffee goes, the head barista tyler is good. Not sure about the rest of the staff. They use Intelligensia out of chicago for their beans, and generally use black cat (a classic) as their espresso blend. Typically a very traditional,"safe" espresso - I've never been a huge fan of it's flavour profile. However, it's well executed and well above the average coffee shop fare. They also do french press, pour overs and syphon on weekends.

            Obviously, different fans will put these shops in different orders. But I believe that most coffee enthusiats will agree with me that these are some of the top choices in austin.

            One last note : S.Italian style is traditionally dark-raosted. You'll be hard pressed to find such a dark profile at most specialty coffee shops in austin (with the exception of some counter-culture roasts like La Forza).

            Counter Culture
            Austin, TX, Austin, TX

            3 Replies
            1. re: sisundar

              Before Michael, the owner of Medici became a local coffee baron he was but a humble barista pulling shots at Jp's Java.

              Love him or hate him Jp has had as big an impact as anyone in Austin on our current coffee renaissance.

              I don't get by there as much as I'd like but yesterdays Americano was flat delicious. The morgue atmosphere of the place has lifted a bit now that they're serving a brace of well selected micro brews.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                You're certainly right; they've had a huge influence. I guess I never go there, because of the UT parking situation so they slipped from my mind. I'm sure there are others that I neglected to mention...

                Do you happen to know what roaster they are using right now?

              2. re: sisundar

                I've never seen a better or more accurate post on here.

                One nice touch at Once Over that hasn't been mentioned is the complimentary San Pellegrino that comes with espresso. It was unfortunate that Medici stopped doing this long ago.