Take a sneak peak into my Instagram journey as @atxcoffeereview.
By Malayna Ellis
There’s something about coffee shops that I have always found comforting. My life has been hectic over the past couple of years as a result of moving around so often, but coffee shops have been stable entities in my life that keep me grounded. They have become my second homes and places that hold some of my fondest memories. I’ve pulled countless all-nighters with good friends and 2 a.m. rendezvous after incredible concerts at coffee shops. I have fallen in love, had my heartbroken, and said many goodbyes (and “see you laters”) in these second homes.
Finding new shops to visit and explore is exciting to me, not only because of the delicious drinks and unique atmosphere that each coffee shop has to offer, but also because of their ability to create lasting memories.
Austin has a lot of independently owned coffee shops, which isn’t too surprising considering Austin is known for its lack of chain stores and restaurants. When I moved to Austin for school in August 2015, I was overwhelmed with the amount of cool coffee shops. I probably visited 10 new shops in the first week of school, effectively draining my bank account.
I was also trying to figure out the career path that I wanted to take. I always loved managing social media and decided I wanted to mix my two loves of social media and coffee to see if I could create and build a following from the ground up. I wasn’t too sure what the content would be at first, so it took me about two months of brainstorming to decide how I wanted to tie my two passions together. What I love most about coffee shops and social media is their ability to bring people together and foster a tight-knit community. I decided to make an Instagram account to create a place where the coffee community in Austin could convene online. @atxcoffeereview was born.
My first review is saved for my favorite coffee shop in Austin, Seventh Flag Coffee. Situated beside @forgexcraft and @kitandace, and across the street from some yummy food trucks, this shop has a prime location on S. 1st Street. If you can't find parking in their parking lot, free street parking is readily available on the side. The inside has a nice, clean aesthetic that any indie soul could appreciate. Definitely a coffee shop I feel the need to dress up in a cool outfit to get coffee and study. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-7pm; Sat & Sun 7am-7pm ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Music: Mainly spunky/jazzy/acoustic indie music including Neon Indian, Beirut, and Glasser. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What I Ordered: A cold brew coffee, a gluten free muffin, and a chai latte (I was studying here for quite some time) I definitely would recommend their homemade chai latte to all my chai lovers out there. Definitely one of the better cups of chai I've had recently. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Customers: Mostly consists of hip 20-30 year old students and business people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Baristas: Extremely friendly and excellent service, which can sometimes be hard to find in coffee shops such as Seventh Flag. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Atmosphere: Overall a great place to study with their laid back music and very low murmur of conversations. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Cool Extras: They have an incredibly adorable outdoor seating area that is great for beautiful afternoons.
I decided I wouldn’t review coffee, but rather the independently-owned, small chain coffee shops. It was a concept that I was sure existed somewhere on Instagram, but had never seen first-hand in Austin. Instead of using a numeric scale to rate the coffee shops, I decided to review the overall feel of the coffee shop. Numeric scales are so vague, and every single person is so different: a coffee shop I might rate a 10/10, someone else might rate a 2/10. A more personalized review allows me to give my followers a little taste of what to expect before they visit the shop, while simultaneously introducing lesser known shops to them.
I hoped that my followers would stop and think to themselves “I want to go study somewhere outside today with chill music, let me check @atxcoffeereview to see where I should go,” and end up going to Mozart’s Cafe. Or alternatively, “I really want to hang out with some friends, and not worry about disturbing people who are studying, and maybe grab a coffee or a beer,” and they would find Cuvee Coffee on my page.
In addition to commenting on the coffee shops’ menu and aesthetic, I give a few examples of the music it plays, what I ordered, the typical crowd that comes into the shop, if they have wifi, and a fun fact about the shop at the end.
This week's review is over Weekend Coffee (not to be confused with the Weeknd 😏), located in the lobby of the glamorous Joule hotel on Commerce Street in Downtown Dallas, right down the street from the first Neiman Marcus. Weekend uses Victrola coffee beans (a Seattle-based coffee roaster) for their coffee, which is extremely exciting for me to hear, as that was one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle! (For those of you who don't know I lived in Seattle for a year last year for school). In addition to espresso, coffee, and some non coffee based drinks (including fresh OJ and V V juice), you can also pick up a pastry, some Weekend merchandise, or the latest issue of Kinfolk magazine. There is extremely limited parking out on the street, but there is a parking garage down the street that is $3/hr for parking (and those of you who are used to parking downtown know this is an AMAZING price). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30am-6pm ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What I Ordered: I ordered the Californian, and WOW did it perk me up! 😳😍 Apparently it has a few shots of espresso in it in addition to coffee, with some agave to sweeten it up! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Customers: Mostly young-middle age adults from what I could tell from my visit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Atmosphere: Since it is in the lobby of a hotel, it is a great place to get some work done, sit and chat with friends or clients, or grab a coffee to go! They do have their own seating for the shop. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Plugs: I spotted a few power strips under the couches, and there may be more at the bar. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Cool Extras: "The Weekend concept was conceived of by the folks behind Tenoversix with ongoing direction by Los Angeles based Tenoversix co-owner Joe Cole." How cool!!
One of my rules that I find important is to not say anything negative about the shop that I’m reviewing. Since most of the coffee shops I review are small, independently-owned family businesses, they cannot afford a bad review. Every person’s experience is different, so I like to allow my followers the chance to make their own decisions based on their experiences at each coffee shop.
Though @atxcoffeereview started out as a fun little experiment, it continues to bring so much excitement into my life. Not only does it force me to get out and explore Austin, it allows me to meet so many new people who share my interest in coffee and social media. My hope is that my page will foster a spirit of exploration for my followers to go out and connect with the local coffee scene and be able to experience the same joy and community I’ve been able to find through my journey. As the Boston Globe so cleverly put it, “Keep Austin weird, and wired.”