Sip your way across the upper Texas Coast at these coffee shops
Sure, we have our share of Starbucks in these parts and are glad about it. But we also have plenty of independent shops to keep us caffeinated. Correspondent Sue Mayfield Geiger spent a few weeks sipping her way across the upper Texas Coast to find favorite old hangouts and some new ones, too.
Art of Coffee
The manager/barista isn’t a coffee drinker, but he knows his way around an espresso machine and how to whip up any drink of your choice. An art deco lounge area with a lot of black and white leather seating is the perfect spot to sip, chat and enjoy all the art hanging on the walls for sale by local artists. Frappé drinks have artsy names such as Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Picasso, Monet and Renoir. If it’s your lucky day, the homemade banana pudding will be on the menu. A nice tropical outdoor patio adds to the ambience.
609 Bradford Ave., Kemah
Recently opened in the former Pollo Campero space, you won’t recognize the interior. The uptown urban design attracts not only hipsters but coffee connoisseurs of all ages, especially those with a bit of a chocolate addiction. Custom designed Belgian chocolate bars anyone? Barbazzar roasts its beans in-house. Look to your right after you enter and take a gander at the giant roaster. For the purist, coffee can be made in Chemex glass carafes or a French press. This is a father-and-son owned establishment opening a second location soon at the Baybrook Mall expansion.
702 Bay Area Blvd., Webster
Ca Phe Phin
It’s pronounced “ka-fey-fin,” and means coffee made in little stainless steel brewers — called phins — used for brewing Vietnamese coffee. Beans are shipped monthly directly from farms in the Vietnam highlands. The 100-year heritage roasting method adds a bit of sweetness to the finished product. This family-run coffee shop snugly tucked away on the side of a strip center, with its soothing Zen atmosphere, also whips up smoothies, healthy sandwiches and desserts. Stay awhile and peruse magazines and books or strike up a chess match with a tablemate.
1354 E. NASA Parkway, Nassau Bay
The sign out front says: “There two kinds of people: 1) Coffee drinking, and 2) Sad people.” It becomes apparent that everyone inside Coffee Connection are not only happy coffee drinkers, but people who care about community. At the Christian-based, nonprofit entity, everyone works on a volunteer basis and all profits are donated to charity each month. The hot caramel latte and cold caramel pecan frappé are popular, but the brownie frappé — made with pieces of real brownies — is a favorite with locals. With cushy chairs for sitting and Sally, the stuffed giraffe, to welcome you, you’ll feel right at home.
9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Texas City
Dunn Brothers Coffee
At this neighborhood hangout with burlap bags of coffee beans stacked high inside and a nice, big dog-friendly patio outback, students with laptops blend right in with corporate types and writers finishing up their novels. Although Dunn Brothers is a chain operation, the managers make every effort to create a hometown vibe. Internationally, Dunn Brothers partners with Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance, visit many of the farms where it buys coffee and verifies first hand that farmers are adhering to sustainable farming practices. New this season: Mayan Mocha and Spiced Brown Sugar Latte.
201 S. Friendswood Drive, Friendswood
Happy Coffee Shop
A relative newcomer to the island coffee scene, owner Randy Abramson serves up good coffees and hot drinks — a signature one is the chai tea — with much praised baked goods and daily noodle, rice and curry dishes from her native Cambodia. She recently introduced a Cambodian pork sandwich to the menu. Abramson is a skilled barista, serving up perfectly foamed cappuccinos and other espresso drinks. Happy Coffee Shop, small and cozy, is aptly named, with a laid-back island vibe and Wi-Fi.
5102 Broadway, Galveston
Jimmy’s on the Pier
Sitting just below Jimmy’s and on the famous Galveston Fishing Pier, this shop offers specialty coffees, lattes, chai beverages, classic espresso, cold brew, cappuccino and more. Enjoy a hot beverage from the ever-changing chalkboard menu and sip your selection out on the pier, taking in one of the best views in Galveston. Cordoba is the house brew.
9001 Seawall Blvd., Galveston
College students flock here to study, locals come to sip their favorite lattes, while tourists drop by because they’ve heard about this icon of a coffee shop in the island’s downtown. Mod serves good coffee and is a great spot for people watching — inside and out. Along with the hot beverages, Mod also is popular for its beverages. Munch on wraps, an espresso brownie or the Cowboy Cookie. On weekend evenings, the outdoor patio features live music — weather permitting. Inside cozy meets comfort and design meets foam atop your cup of Katz brewed coffee, micro roasted in the Houston Heights.
2126 Postoffice St., Galveston
Murder by Chocolate
Yes, it’s a mystery theater, but it features a comfy coffee lounge with a revolving fireplace door and partitioned rooms in a “clue mansion” design. You could join in the fun and attend one of the many shows in which you can be the star or a behind-the-scenes detective. Or, just pop in and enjoy one of the specialty coffee drinks with intriguing names such as Houdini Hazelnut, Checkmate Mocha, Nancy Drew and Dr. Watson. Dessert items include a Dark Shadows chocolate pie, Killer Cookie — fudge brownie sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies covered with marshmallow cream — and Murder on the Oreo Express with Oreo mousse. Agatha Christie would be proud.
18201 S. Egret Bay Blvd., Clear Lake area
Rogers Malt Shoppe
One longtime patron said of this neighborhood hangout: “Whatever the hot topic or latest rumor around town might be, it will be discussed, hashed and criticized with very little held back here.” Known for the same group of men who have been solving the world’s problems over coffee and breakfast for decades, this is the place to eavesdrop. You’ll rub elbows with Dickinson’s finest while getting a good cup of coffee at the shop with a 1950s vibe. Brenda Ybarra has worked here since 1980 and will be happy to make menu suggestions.
4410 state Highway 3, Dickinson
Seabrook Classic Café
An institution of sorts that’s been making locals happy for decades, the Seabrook Classic Café may not have an extensive coffee menu, but it does serve a decent cup of java to go along with your mile-high piece of pie. Known for its house-made desserts, the cafe serves pies that have people coming back time and again. And, of course, it’s hard to resist a steaming, hot cup of coffee to pair with the popular banana cream pie — only available the first week of each month — or the coconut cream pie topped with a mountain of meringue or the pecan pie full of gooey richness.
2511 NASA Parkway, Seabrook
Sugar Bean Coffee and Cream
The residents of Evia on Galveston’s West End have their very own coffee shop within walking distance. But even if you don’t live there, you’re welcome to stop by and enjoy a cup of warm goodness. Sugar Bean’s sunny coastal interior will jump-start your morning and put a smile on your face. Friendly baristas, water views and a killer coconut mocha latte are top draws. Sit by the fireplace or walk outside to the gazebo to capture the essence of this village-like atmosphere.
11 Evia Main, Galveston
Editor Laura Elder contributed to this listing.