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Call it what you will: coffee, java, a cup of joe — it’s the hot brown liquid that makes the world go ’round. As with all big cities, San Antonio’s numerous cafes have drinks and munchies that make them unique.
Almost two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, I set out to try to visit as many of those cafes and to taste as many of those drinks as possible.
I started enjoying coffee back in my college days (and had many an overnight cup while posted up at the Denny’s in College Station to do those inevitable all-nighters). But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, I started taking an interest in various shops and their different brews, wanting to both support local businesses and try unique cups of coffee.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve visited more than 40 coffee shops in the San Antonio area, from Southtown to New Braunfels, from Sea World to St. Hedwig. Many of the places I visited were those along my regular route to work; as a resident on the Northside of town, US-281 is the main artery I travel.
I started Instagramming my visits, and my little personal project grew. Friends and followers asked for a map or list of all the places I’d gone, and asked for my recommendations of the shops I’d tried.
Now, we’ve moved the map to the San Antonio Report, with the goal of visiting and describing every locally-owned coffee shop and cafe in town. While my project initially included a rating system, it was based on my personal tastes, which yes, lean toward sweet and blended coffee drinks, and so might not be for everyone.
The ratings led to some pushback online, as several commenters felt it unfairly ranked certain shops. (Other commenters were just upset their favorites weren’t included — which gave me lots of recommendations for phase two!)
So moving forward, the San Antonio Report plans to use this map to help you understand our growing local coffee scene and what makes it so unique, so readers can decide for themselves where to go and what to try.
To use the map, click the locations to read more about San Antonio’s local caffeine purveyors. Blue markers are for storefronts, yellow for food trucks or drive-throughs. If you’re not a map person, you can peruse the list, below, for details on each place.
I look forward to expanding the map in all directions over time. Got a coffee stop suggestion for me? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thanks for coming along with us on this java journey!
Neighborhood: New Braunfels Known for: Instagrammable interior and youthful staff Sources beans from: Friday Coffee Roasters Lindsey’s tasting notes: This magazine-worthy coffee shop is cute, fashionable, and young. Try The 2Rivers — the cafe’s signature white chocolate mocha with a dab of caramel. As the kids would say, “It slaps.”
Neighborhood: New Braunfels Known for: Delicious sweet treats and relaxing vibes Sources beans from: Cuvée Coffee Lindsey’s tasting notes: The coffee here is just as delicious as the amazing assortment of pastries. 2Tarts, which has been featured on the Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge, is everything sweet and pink. Located in New Braunfels’ historic downtown, this quaint coffee shop is a local favorite.
Americana Coffee & Espresso Bar
Neighborhood: Schertz Known for: Chic, minimalistic character and college feel Sources beans from: Broadcast Coffee Lindsey’s tasting notes: Simple, good coffee. Americana is a hidden gem tucked away in an industrial lot in Schertz. This minimalistic, bright coffee shop has a college feel to it that will make you want to come back.
Neighborhood: Bulverde Known for: Operating out of a shipping container and unique coffee drinks Lindsey’s tasting notes: Formerly the Coffee Pail, Apollo’s Coffee Shop is a drive-thru coffee stand built in a shipping container. Get ready to try some out-of-this-world creations if you stop here.
Berry to Bean Coffee House
Neighborhood: Broadway near Brackenridge Park Known for: Chalkboard art and ethical sourcing Lindsey’s tasting notes: This vegan coffee shop means lattes with milk alternatives only and delicious vegan pastries. Its hipster vibes will make you want to come back.
Neighborhood: Bitters Known for: Veteran-owned, serving “coffee and culture to people who love America” Sources beans from: Independent roaster; creates its own blends Lindsey’s tasting notes: Known as much for its politics as its coffee, Black Rifle has become a San Antonio staple for many, although its roots are in Utah.
Neighborhood: Southtown Known for: Strong cold brew and cocktail-style iced coffees Sources beans from: Independent, wholesale roaster, also offers subscriptions Lindsey’s tasting notes: Brown Coffee is way more exciting than its name would imply. This coffee shop is everything a good cafe should be. Not only does Brown serve up a single cube for iced coffee, like you’re sippin’ an old-fashioned, but the machine that seals its to-go cups is also pretty cool to watch. Get there early in the day, though — parking in the area fills up fast.
Neighborhood: Bulverde and 1604 Known for: Friendly, hands-on owners and super fun drinks Lindsey’s tasting notes: This coffee shop is relatively new, having opened in the fall of 2021. The vibe here is young and fun, so it’s a great place for a meetup or hangout.
Neighborhoods: Alamo Heights, Hemisfair, Five Points, the Weston Centre Known for: French artisanal baked goods Sources beans from: Cuvee Coffee, Ferra Coffee Roasters Lindsey’s tasting notes: So far I’ve only visited the Hemisfair location, and highly recommend soaking up the San Antonio vibes on the patio overlooking the park. The coffee shop is quaint as can be and makes darn good pastries.
Neighborhood: New Braunfels Known for: Unique flavors and its historic location Sources beans from: Independent roaster Lindsey’s tasting notes: This coffee shop is at the center of New Braunfels’ historic downtown. It offers a fun assortment of coffee flavors.
Neighborhood: Thousand Oaks Known for: Its gorgeous collection of pottery for sale and fun Friday night activities Lindsey’s tasting notes: Curator Coffee is good, but what makes this shop great is its atmosphere. Curator sells pieces by local artists and offers favorites everyone will come to love. Try the Lavender Latte for something different.
Neighborhood: Dignowity Hill Known for: Delicious roasts and nonchalant vibe Sources beans from: Independent, wholesale roaster; works with family-owned importers Lindsey’s tasting notes: One of the closest coffee shops to the San Antonio Report office, Estate is a favorite for meetups for us reporters. When the weather heats up, check out their Coffee Old Fashioned — with a double shot of espresso, bitters, splash of Topo Chico and Bourbon Barrel smoked simple syrup, it’s a sophisticated way to sip!
Neighborhood: Government Hill Known for: Relaxed atmosphere and puro South Side pride Lindsey’s tasting notes: Another hidden gem of San Antonio’s is Folklores. The baristas go light on the syrups, but that’s because the coffee really speaks for itself.
Neighborhood: Tobin Hill Known for: The Elixir latte and its gothic chic look Lindsey’s tasting notes: You cannot call yourself a San Antonio coffee connoisseur if you haven’t tried the Elixir Latte. This one-of-a-kind ube (a kind of sweet potato) latte is sweet, dark, rich and creamy in all the right ways. While parking is scarce for this food-truck coffee stop, it’s worth the trouble.
Neighborhood: Blue Star Arts Complex Known for: Its delicious food menu and its coffee or cocktail creations Lindsey’s tasting notes: Halcyon is a Blue Star staple that offers unique craft coffees, cocktails and a delicious menu from morning till night. Be sure to try the Turkey Pesto Sandwich to go with an Iced Thai Latte.
Neighborhood: Downtown Known for: In-house art gallery Sources beans from: Independent roaster Lindsey’s tasting notes: This cool coffee shop has delicious Mexican-inspired flavors and is part art gallery as well. A cool stop downtown that’s fun to find and visit.
Neighborhood: Gruene Known for: Owned by a mother/daughter team Lindsey’s tasting notes: Located in the picturesque little town of Gruene, Kora Kora Coffee is good, and the shop has a newly renovated dining area. The menu is minimalist but delish.
Neighborhood: Southtown Known for: See and be seen outdoor tables, cute shops nearby Lindsey’s tasting notes: Kulture Kafe is a coffee truck with some unique lattes. Forget pumpkin spice and try the Texas Latte for a blend of spices — it’s unlike anything you’ve had before.
Neighborhood: Pearl Known for: Its prime location and Bakery Lorraine-stock of goodies Sources beans from: Merit Roasting Co. Lindsey’s tasting notes: This is the last Local location of what has become Merit Coffee across the rest of the state. It’s pretty much always packed, with drinkers populating many of the outdoor tables around it. Its strong coffee pairs well with a baked good from Bakery Lorraine, located right across the lawn.
Neighborhood: Midtown Known for: Its location among the cute Airstream shops at Broadway News Lindsey’s tasting notes: A great cup of coffee for any day — strong, flavorful, delicious. The only downside here is the scarce parking and that it’s closed Mondays, arguably the day we all need coffee the most.
Neighborhoods: Stone Oak, Shavano Park, Fair Oaks Known for: Tiny crushed ice and its homemade syrups Sources beans from: Independent, wholesale roaster: Merit supplies restaurants, hotels and retail establishments across the country. Lindsey’s tasting notes: The coffee here is strong and the menu includes offers options for everyone. Try their fall harvest latte if you like the flavors of fall without all the extra sweetness.
Neighborhood: Thousand Oaks Known for: Whip cream-covered creations and drive-thru accessibility Lindsey’s tasting notes: If you like coffee that’s more like a milkshake, try Mudslingers. Its sugary lattes look pretty enough for an Instagram post.
Neighborhood: Downtown Known for: Hearty, bold coffees Lindsey’s tasting notes: If you like strong espresso, Niche is where it’s at. While the food truck recently moved to I-10 and Wurzbach, the brick and mortar location downtown remains.
Neighborhood: Olmos Park Known for: Cute as a button decor Lindsey’s tasting notes: This shop feels like it was decorated by your fun aunt who always drinks too much wine at family reunions — but, like, in a good way. The espresso has lovely notes of chocolate, and the kolaches offer a nod to the region’s Czech heritage.
Neighborhood: New Braunfels Known for: Bright orange drive-thrus and its sugary sweet lattes Lindsey’s tasting notes: A New Braunfels classic, On The Grind’s drive-thru coffee stands are sweet and fun. Whether you’re trying a normal everyday latte or the Mexican mocha, they have something for you. Careful of the bees in the summer, they like sweet coffee too!
Neighborhood: Stone Oak Known for: Contemporary Mexican breads and organic coffees Lindsey’s tasting notes: Definitely make sure to order the fresh-pressed espresso. Try some delicious pan dulce with your morning brew if you’re looking for a tasty breakfast combo.
Neighborhood: Alta Vista Known for: college student hangout, late-night bites Sources beans from: What’s Brewing Coffee Roasters Lindsey’s tasting notes: The coffee at Philo is great, and this small shop is located close to San Antonio College, making it a great study spot.
Neighborhood: Southtown Known for: Its Instagrammable interior, focus on books and Friday wine nights Sources beans from: Sells bags of its own Poetic blend Lindsey’s tasting notes: This quaint spot is exactly what a coffee shop should be: accessible, interactive, chic. The coffee here stands out and makes a name for itself.
Neighborhood: Broadway near Brackenridge Park Known for: Its unique treehouse interior and its magic bar dessert. Lindsey’s tasting notes: Press Coffee is smooth and decadent enough to drink black — even if you don’t think you like it like that.
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Alamo Heights and the Rim Known for: Cold-pressed juices and “plant-forward” bites Lindsey’s tasting notes: This hipster-chic downtown location is fun and offers lots of healthy bites. I highly recommend the Revolución Latte. It’s got the shop name in it, for goodness’ sake.
Rosella Coffee & Wine Bar
Neighborhood: River North Known for: Its unique loft and after-dark wine specials Lindsey’s tasting notes: The menu at Rosella Coffee & Wine Bar is phenomenal. Grab a classic cup of joe and try the Mexi Bowl or the Egg Cloud Sandwich. Rosella is a great place to stack up for the day if you work from a computer.
Neighborhood: South Flores Known for: Its robust roasts and friendly staff Sources beans from: What’s Brewing Coffee Roasters Lindsey’s tasting notes: Gold’s coffee is as rich as its namesake, and the staff is extremely friendly. A great pass-through, if you’re looking for a cup of joe on South Flores.
Neighborhood: Near Westside Known for: Its unassuming exterior and its Mexican vanilla Lindsey’s tasting notes: This West Side hidden gem makes its own in-house Mexican vanilla that’s to die for. With a stylish interior, it’s a great place for remote workers to set up shop for the day.
Neighborhood: South Side Known for: Its cute pink food truck and dirty horchata latte. Lindsey’s tasting notes: Who doesn’t love some unique menu items? With specials such as the Mexican Mocha and the Dirty Horchata, Southbound Coffee has a lock on some puro San Antonio flavors.
Neighborhood: St. Mary’s Street Known for: Its “moon milk,” which is what it flavors its coffees with. Lindsey’s tasting notes: Summer Moon is an Austin staple brought to San Antone. If you like homemade syrups over the generic stuff, make sure to try a Half Moon or Winter Half Moon Latte for something unique.
The Lookout Coffee and Community
Neighborhood: Timberwood Park Known for: Its second-story location and relaxed vibes Lindsey’s tasting notes: The shop is adorable, and quaint. If you like sugary coffee drinks, this place might become a new favorite.
Neighborhood: Bulverde Known for: Its “coffee ice” and the cute boutique next door Lindsey’s tasting notes: This Bulverde hideaway is awesome. Enjoy iced coffee but tired of it getting watered down? No problem! The Rustic Bean makes coffee ice cubes that make your coffee even stronger. Check out the cute boutique next door while you’re at it.
Neighborhood: Oak Park – Northwood Known for: Its parking lot chic aesthetic and rabid fans Sources beans from: “Locally roasted coffee, out of Austin” Lindsey’s tasting notes: This cup of coffee was the absolute perfect temperature from the moment it was handed to me. The friendly staff was welcoming and the truck was easy to find. It’s currently in a parking lot that is under construction which makes it a little tougher to get to but it’s worth the stop.
What’s Brewing Coffee Roasters
Neighborhood: Greater Harmony Hills Known for: Its pinball machines and status as an OG roaster Sources beans from: Independent, wholesale roaster, supplying many local coffee shops Lindsey’s tasting notes: Roasting since 1981, What’s Brewing knows its beans. Although its shop is a bit off the beaten path, the backroom is loaded with pinball machines — just the start of what makes What’s Brewing unique.
Neighborhood: New Braunfels Known for: The chocolate-covered coffee bean that comes with every cup Lindsey’s tasting notes: A must-have if you’re in New Braunfels, Wicked Voodoo has both a brick-and-mortar shop and a drive-thru coffee stand. Its rich coffee is offered in fun flavors such as Kenny’s Sacred Drink or a Dark Chocolate Mocha. Every cup to go is topped with a chocolate espresso bean. It’s like a reward.
Lindsey Carnett is the Science & Utilities reporter for the San Antonio Report. More by Lindsey Carnett