Photo by Gabby Phi

Most Austinites aren’t strangers to a good cup of Joe—but there’s still a vast variety of coffee shops that don’t get the attention they deserve. For good vibes and a great roast, here are four of my personal favorites.

Vintage Heart Coffee

Vanilla Latte at Vintage Heart

Photo by Gabby Phi

Vintage Heart

Photo by Gabby Phi

This tasteful and quaint coffee shop serves its iced drinks in mason jars, which was enough to win me over before I’d even taken a sip. My iced vanilla latte was subtle in flavor but strong in sweetness. The walls are decorated with an eclectic assortment of picture frames and light fixtures, and a few large windows give the small shop a soft, natural glow on sunny days. This would be a wonderful place to meet a friend for a long chat or to spend a few hours reading and studying.

Hours: Mon-Sun: 7am-8am
Location: 1405 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

Once Over Coffee


Photo by Gabby Phi


Photo by Gabby Phi

I nearly passed this unassuming coffee shop twice before heading inside. Prices are on the steeper end—a plain latte will run you about $4—but there is a 10% cash discount, so bring some green. I savored the best iced chai latte I’ve ever had in the back of the shop, which features a sizeable patio beside a small creek and is surrounded by strung lights and plenty of greenery. The iced chai was smooth and sweet but not overpowering, and had subtle cinnamon flavor.

Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-pm, Sun 8am-6pm
Location: 2009 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704



Photo by Gabby Phi


Photo by Gabby Phi

Gelato meets espresso at this charmer off 38th street, which offers a multitude of gelato flavors that range from plain chocolate to more original flavors like horchata and coffee-Oreo. The coffee menu also offers a variety of syrups and is one of a few shops to offer a vast variety of milk substitutes, like almond and soy. Try the affogato, which features a shot of hot espresso over a scoop of gelato; just pick your flavor wisely. Bonus perk: on Mondays, students get $2 gelato cones.

Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-10pm., Fri 7am-12am, Sat 8am–12am, Sun 8:30am–10pm
Location: 1206 W 38th St, Austin, TX 78705

Flat Track Coffee Roasters


Photo by Gabby Phi

This little coffee shop is housed behind a bookstore and a clothing boutique with the friendliest baristas and no menu. Patrons can order pretty much any standard drink. I opted for a regular cappuccino, which turned out to be one of the best ones I’ve ever had: creamy, smooth, and topped off beautifully with latte art.

Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sun 9am-5pm
Location: 913 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

Just try to pace yourself when coffee shop hopping—that caffeine high can last quite a while.

Photo by	 Mikinna Kerns

If you go to Iowa State and are a coffee drinker, you are probably quite familiar with two options for on-campus coffee: Bookends Café and Caribou Coffee.

Bookends Café, located in Parks Library, is one of the many locations that serve The Roasterie Air Roasted Coffee at ISU.

Just 116 steps away (yes, I counted) is The Hub, which hosts a Caribou Coffee cafe. Whether we drink coffee for its addictive taste or necessary caffeine, each of us is given a choice of where to quench our thirst.

Both accept ISU Dining Dollars. Both boast long lines between class times. So, why choose one over the other?

The answer to this question is, well, another question: what do you value most in your coffee experience?



Photo by Mikinna Kerns

Location, Location, Location

Yes, I know. The two are only a one minute walk away from each other; however, this common principle can still be a deal-breaker for some.

-20°F windchill for one day? BARELY Manageable.  -20°F windchill for an entire week? Two weeks?? I’m never going outside, even for coffee.

While a hot drink lies at the end of this tunnel, if you are studying at the library, chances are you won’t risk frostbite from the extra 55 steps between the library door and Caribou’s.

Contrarily, if you’re rushing between classes, or deciding whether it’s worth getting coffee and being be late to your 9 a.m. (we’ve all been there), you’re probably going to stay out of the library and grab Caribou togo.


In terms of quantity, The Roasterie is the obvious winner in this comparison.

Sorry Hub, but your popularity coupled with limited seating just isn’t cutting it; you simply cannot compete with the library’s floors upon floors of seats.


If you’re a morning person, and I mean really a morning person, you can get your weekday cup o’ joe starting at 7:00 a.m. at Caribou. Otherwise, you will be waiting half an hour for Bookends to open at 7:30 a.m.

Although, if you’re staying up late and need that extra energy, The Roasterie serves coffee until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Caribou is only open until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Trying to get work done on the weekend? Forget about Caribou, it’s closed all day Saturday and Sunday. 



Photo by Mikinna Kerns

Obviously, taste is a measure of personal preference. That being said, of all the people I have talked to, each commented that Caribou did taste better.

I even overheard someone say that The Roasterie’s coffee tasted like “wet cardboard” – ouch. Self-proclaimed foodie, Savannah Hartman, chooses Caribou Coffee for its flavor.

When asked more about her decision, she stated, “Knowing that smell plays a large part in the way things taste, I think that the aroma of Caribou’s roast is significantly better.”

Out of the two options for on-campus coffee, Caribou Coffee is known as the stronger roast, appealing to those with a more developed coffee palate.



Photo by Mikinna Kerns

Minnesota, the birthplace of Caribou Coffee, is the second most-represented state here at Iowa State. Whether or not you are from Minnesota, you are more likely to have heard of Caribou than The Roasterie.

Centered out of Edina, Caribou Coffee is sold in 11 countries with 6,577 stores in the US alone. The Roasterie only has three other locations besides here at ISU: two stores in Kansas City, Missouri and one in St. Leawood, Kansas.

Maybe there is a Caribou in your hometown and you have a favorite specialty drink, or maybe you’re electing for the popular name brand.

Either way, you may just be more comfortable sticking with the status quo.



Photo by Mikinna Kerns

With a household name comes a household name price. Let’s face it – regardless of brand, coffee is expensive.

Both companies offer three sizes: 12oz, 16oz, and 20oz, yet prices differ. While differences in the price of black coffee seem minimal ($0.01 more at the Roasterie for a small, $0.09 more at Caribou for a large), the difference for signature drinks are noteworthy. Caribou’s signature drinks, such as “Campfire Mocha” and “Caramel High Rise”, cost $0.64 more for a small, $0.49 for a medium, and $0.44 for a large than The Roasterie’s signature drinks like “Grasshopper” and “Berry White Mocha”.

Even if you only treat yourself to a medium at Caribou once a week, that’s $7.84 more a semester, more than $15 if twice a week. Lattes at Caribou, interestingly enough, cost $0.19 more than at The Roasterie for a small, but actually cost $0.01 less as a large.

Making that a vanilla latte, however, will cost you $0.10 more at Caribou, where flavor shots are an additional $0.90 instead of $0.80 at Bookends Café.


The Roasterie tries to offset both price and weekday load with $1 off all coffee on Mondays and $1 off all specialty drinks on Fridays.

These deals apply at all locations that sell The Roasterie coffee on campus including ABE’s Harvest Café, Bookends Café, Business Café, Courtyard Café, Design Café, Gentle Doctor Café, and the MU Market and Café. 

Senior, Xeniya Konika, explained why she now prefers Bookends.

“I used to like Caribou because their coffee is strong, but when I tried The Roasterie I started purchasing it (it’s good too). Plus their promos are a motivation.”

Whether you are trying to start a week out right or celebrating surviving another, maybe you’ll consider trying The Roasterie’s coffee to save a few extra bucks.


Caribou Coffee offers discounts and free drinks through its free Caribou Perks program.

Get a card at the register during your next trip and register online or on the app to start earning perks, including free and discounted coffee.

You will even receive a free medium drink just for signing up. It may take some time (and a lot of coffee), but who doesn’t love perks?

So, have you picked yet? Are you sticking with your gut – and favorite specialty drink?

Are you opting out for the cheapest caffeine fix you can get your hands on?

Are you worried about finding a seat, and need that boost to start your paper at 10 p.m. in the library?

Either way, only you can decide.


Photo by Mikinna Kerns


Health is hard.