SX60: Day 14 – Where to Caffeinate During SXSW

by Daniel Ramirez on February 24, 2016 in Food+Drink, Austin,
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If you endeavor upon SXSW 2016, there is going to come a time, whether early in the morning or far too late in the day, when you are going to need some fast energy. Walking, watching, standing and rocking for hours on end take a toll on even the most stalwart of festival goers; and even if some among you look at a three-day music extravaganza and relish the challenge of keeping the energy high throughout, SXSW is, at minimum, a five day affair.

Caffeine, SXSW-goers, is your wingman for the duration of the conference and festival. When the third show of the day lets out and there are two more before it’s time to consider going home for the night, there’s a good chance that coffee begins to seem less like a good idea and more like the only way you’re going to survive.

To make it through the SXSW madness, we’ve outlined a few places to get your Java/Joe (or Jo – natch!) fix in Downtown. This being Texas (and Austin, in particular), we will avoid non-native providers, despite their rewards programs and assimilating culture.

1) Austin Java – Downtown

Located across the street from both Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater and ACL’s newest venture, <a href=““ target=“_blank”>3TEN ACL Live</a> (which has already created a killer lineup for SXSW and beyond), Austin Java is the most convenient place to grab a cup to go or leisurely sip from a mug and watch the passers-by. Complete with a full breakfast/lunch/dinner menu (as well as a few beers and wines on offer), this is a one-stop shop for all of your needs, especially the need for caffeine.

2) Jo’s – Second Street & South Congress Locations

Locally owned and musician-fanatic supported, Liz Lambert’s coffee shops are a great place to grab a pastry, a cup o’ joe and get going. With window service at both locations, you need not even leave your path to get caffeinated. Both locations are in the heart of SXSW attractions, with the Second Street locale nearest to the Austin Convention Center, which is the epicenter of SXSW, while the South Congress establishment is neighbor to SXSJ (South by San José), an ancillary musical event that invites local and road-bound bands to showcase for free to the masses while in town for SXSW. The coffee is hot, good and local, and provides all you need to power through.

3) Houndstooth

For more refined tastes, step into the Frost Bank building on the south side and enjoy the elite coffee experience. With pour-over service, a carefully curated selection of beans and a regard for coffee only rivaled in Seattle and San Francisco, Houndstooth Coffee has a perfect location for taking a break between venues, hitting the “boost” button on your day and enjoying a truly refined cup of coffee.

4)Caffé Medici

Also centrally located, Caffé Medici is an Austin staple, and their location at Second and Congress provides a quiet respite from the bustling traffic of Congress Avenue. With floor to ceiling windows and an open air design, the shop allows for an optimal workspace from which to plan your SXSW domination. A view of the J.W. Marriott, a hub of SXSW conference activity, allows you to take a load off, sit a spell and monitor when crowds begin to head in and fill up your desired conference session.


There are other reasons that Frank, the home of “Hot Dogs, Cold Beer,” will make your list of must-stops for the time you’re at SXSW. The artisanal sausage offerings, microbrews, craft cocktails and late night availability all are fine reasons to visit this landmark of Austin eateries (the waffle fry poutine is reason alone to make it a hub of your Austin meal itinerary). But, what many people do not know is that, at the front of the restaurant, across from the host stand, is arguably the best coffee experience in Austin. Begun almost as a very practical side note to their cocktails and food, the bartenders, cooks and owners decided that they wanted fine coffee that they didn’t have to either trek around the city for, or spend their hard earn tip money on. Thus, their offerings, selected as critically as any of the high brow shops in New York City, Nashville or San Francisco, are as select as they come. Drop in and try what made the cortado popular in the U.S., a too-easily drinkable version of the now ubiquitous drink, and get ready to fly through any energy lull.