My first brush with coffee was the sip of brew at the bottom of my father’s cup. I had begged to try it and he relented only after adding water. It was disgusting and I decided then that I hated coffee.
But that was while I was still at a single-digit age.
The next time I tried coffee was the beginning of high school, right when ordering a mocha frappuccino from Starbucks was the cool thing to do. I didn’t love it, but I still ordered it.
I didn’t become a regular coffee drinker until my sister-in-law made it every night I was over, and the coffee was always plenty sweet. Then one day I got sick of sweet coffee and began drinking it black. Only then did I really begin to enjoy coffee for its bitterness.
Now, I enjoy coffee in all forms.
Through my coffee journey, I’ve come to naturally appreciate coffee shops, especially ones that aren’t owned my major corporations. I’m not a coffee snob. I still go to Starbucks on occasion. I’ve just come to love the coffee and the coffee shops that have made a home in the area.
For the most part, when I’m visiting these shops it’s to unwind after work and to write.
My go-to coffee shop is Slowpokes at 1203 E. 34th St. Ste. D. One wall in the shop has booth seating, while the only other seating is two long picnic-style tables and two long high-top tables. So on busy days I may have to sit with a stranger, but I think that adds to the communal feel of the place.
I’m not a huge fan of drip coffee, and the baristas at Slowpokes turned me on to pour-over. I never leave room for sugar. But it isn’t just the strong coffee I enjoy at Slowpokes, but the lattes. My favorite is the lavender latte, and just the other day a barista suggested I add honey to emphasize the flavor. I was glad I heeded the advice.
If you stop by Slowpokes, don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from the baristas. Each time I’ve made the inquiry, I’ve never been disappointed.
For an even homier feel, I’ll stop by EQ Heights at 1030 Heights Blvd. It’s literally a little house with plenty of porch space to enjoy. Walking inside is like walking into a few sets of living rooms as most of the seating is couches.
I tend to lean toward EQ’s macchiato or vanilla latte, the latter being an easy favorite of mine. The cozy ambiance makes it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a good cup of joe.
Boomtown Coffee, 242 W. 19th St., I have a love-hate relationship with. I love everything but how busy it always seems to be. Good for business, bad for me trying to grab a seat. But it doesn’t deter me from frequenting the shop.
When I have a hankering for something with chocolate, I’ll get Boomtown’s Five Dollar Mocha, which is a quad shot chocolate latte with “all of the good stuff.” When I want something simple I grab an Americano.
The open atmosphere of A 2nd Cup, 1111 E. 11th St., is its second-biggest draw. The first is its purpose, which is to raise awareness of human trafficking in Houston and to develop resources that help survivors.
It doesn’t hurt that its coffee is just as good as its cause. I enjoy the mocha and the Secret Squirrel, which has hazelnut and amaretto.
If I’ve learned anything about drinking coffee, it’s that you should always be willing to try something new. And you should drink coffee black once in a while.