UPDATED: MARCH 2017
The coffee game in Denton has drastically changed in the past several years. The local coffee scene has expanded in size almost exponentially over the past half decade with Shift, West Oak Coffee Bar, Aura Coffee, Cultivar, Zera's, and more opening and closing (or just changing). Having so many options can be a little stressful - especially if you're the type who doesn't just pick and spot and stick with it. All of the new shops have their own specific strengths. Below, we've got a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure tour of the Denton coffee scene in 2017, let's get to it. Anybody remember Cappuccino Cafe or miss hanging out upstairs The Hydrant?
Jupiter House is still the king when it comes to posting up with your textbook and highlighting passages of Infinite Jest or pretending to read books about post-structuralism. Just grab the spot that gets hit with the sun rays in mid-afternoon, lest you go blind. Aura Coffee (ex-Big Mike's) is also a good place to study and right next to UNT. They've recently gone through some changes and you should definitely stop by if you haven't in a while. If you're into all-nighters, Aura Coffee and Jupiter House stay open later during finals week.
Runner up: Seven Mile Coffee - where Jupiter House is good for just being in an atmosphere of other people studying, Seven Mile is quiet and chill enough for you to actually focus on something.
The Best Possible Cup of Coffee
Tie between Shift Coffee and Cultivar. These two third-wave coffee shops are currently offering the most delicious cups of coffee that you'll find in Denton. If forced to choose, we'd hit up Cultivar for a brewed coffee and Shift for an espresso-based beverage, but both offer some of the highest-quality coffee in DFW. We also love it when Shift gets weird with it. Their lavender lattes are worth a shot and those chai-tea marshmallows they have sometimes are delicious. West Oak has been upping their game since opening. In fact, they recently participated in a recent coffee competition. Their brand of beans seem to get better and better with every batch. And their coffee game will most likely soon be at the same level as Shift and Cultivar.
On a date
West Oak Coffee Bar is a great place to take a date. They're lacking a bit when it comes to wi-fi speeds, so that will be all the more reason for you and your date to have to look at each other in the face as opposed to your phones. The space is beautiful, the staff is sass-free, and you can even grab a beer or glass of wine should the need arise.
Runner up: Harvest House - Harvest house is also a great place to stop by during the daytime for some coffee in a space with plenty of natural light and space to move around.
Tie: West Oak Coffee Bar and Cafe Brazil. The late night game used to be claimed by Aura Coffee, but they're only open 24 hours during finals nowadays. Both West Oak and Cafe Brazil are open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. So if you're wanting that extra boost to help make it to 2am, they're gonna be your best bet. Also, remember that Harvest House has coffee and Black and Blue (nitro cold brew) on tap that you can get whenever you're there.
Have a Meeting
Zera Coffee Company has a great large(ish) meeting space that they allow groups to use in their space on McKinney St. Seven Mile Cafe is also a great place for a meeting. There are always plenty of large tables with easy access to outlets. The area is spacious enough that you don't feel like the table next to you is eavesdropping nor do you feel as if you have to whisper. The wi-fi is fast, too. If your partners are in a drinking mood, Harvest House before 4pm can be a good spot for meetings. If you have a larger crowd, they have that one awesome long table and you can spread out on top of.
Shift Coffee is another good spot for meetings. They never mind you pushing a few tables together if you need and the outside tables will allow you to not have to worry about how loud you're talking and - if the weather is nice - you can have a great meeting outside. The space on South Locust doesn't have as much walking traffic as the shops directly on the square so you can concentrate fairly easily and it is easier for members of your meeting to find traffic.
Proximity to Donuts
Cultivar definitely wins this one since they are inside the same space occupied by Hypnotic Donuts. Now, let's just get them open later than 2pm on weekdays.
If you're out late at night on the weekends and craving coffee and donuts, stop by the backdoor of Queenie's on Austin St. for some "backdough" stuffed donuts that you can take down to Harvest House and eat along with some cold brew coffee.
Jupiter House is a great place to set up and people watch. In one sitting, you may be witness to an argument between a young punk rocker and a homeless man and see the most beautiful dog in the world walked by all in a span of ten minutes. Yeah, sure dogs aren't people, but we'd pretty much always "dog watch" more than we would "people watch." That said, there are always interesting people and things at happening at Jupiter House. Aura Coffee (ex-Big Mike's) is another great place to people watch due to its proximity to UNT/Fry St.
Cold brew coffee is going to be an important part of your summer. Loco Cafe has you covered if you're out and about during breakfast or lunch hours. Stop by and grab one of their "Icebox coffees" and that 100-degree weather won't bother you at all. Shift and Cultivar have our favorite cold-brews in town. Both are sweet enough naturally that they need no sugar and have low-levels of acidity that you can drink them straight. Shift and West Oak also have seasonal drinks in the summer that will normally cure what ails you (i.e. the heat). If you like drinking cold-brewed coffee that has been infused with nitrogen and is as thick as Guiness, head over to Harvest House. If you're into buying concentrate for use at home, Target sells Chameleon cold brew sometimes if you're into shopping on Loop 288. Oh, and if it is true that chocolate milk helps your muscles after a work out, West Oak Coffee Bar has the stuff on tap. Dead Beat Coffee used to make some good cold brew, but we don't know where those dudes disappeared to.
If you're looking for a local equivalent to larger coffee chain's season specialty, West oak Coffee Bar often has rotating specialty beverages that are both fun and beautiful. Shift also has seasonal beverages that they bring out every once in a while. You can read about one of our faves here.
West Oak and Zera's both have shows every once in a while that are definitely worth going to. Both Jupiter House and West Oak have rotating art displays that are always worth checking out, too. Harvest House, of course, has larger shows all of the time, but their vibe trends way more trendy bar/bier-garten than it does "coffee shop" at that time of night.
Maybe you want a cup of coffee and your friend wants dinner. We can't seem to get on the same damned schedule. That's okay, though. Just head over to West Oak Coffee Bar. You can grab a latte and they can get a sandwich or something. Split a piece of pie afterwards because pie is for everyone. We have heard good things about the weekday breakfast at Aura Coffee, too.
Runner Up: Cafe Brazil - While we aren't really into the whole barrage of flavored coffees that Cafe Brazil has to offer, but they have lots to choose from. Plus when it comes to food, they definitely have everyone else beat when it comes to menu size. Also, Cultivar has their roommate, Hypnotic Donuts, which serves a mean chicken biscuit when you feel the urge.
Buying a bag of beans for home usage.
Cultivar has some of the best beans in North Texas. Sure, they may be roasted in Dallas and not Denton, but they're darned good, and our go-to bean for coffee at our heezy. Shift sells Avoca beans (in addition to special guest roasters) which are also insanely good, but roasted in Ft. Worth. Aside from that, you can find most coffee roasters that are local to Denton in Recycled Books and they are all worth a try. West Oak now sells West Oak Coffee Bar branded coffee beans which are really great. Seven Mile Coffee roasts their own brand of coffee bi-weekly so you know what you're getting is fresh and they also sell the legendary Stumptown coffee in store, as well. Recycled Books also keeps in stock several of the other local roasters' beans, too, if you're ever looking to sample them. Aura Coffee brews and sells Counter Culture Coffee which is also a great roasted bean.
If you're really into value, both West Oak Coffee Bar and Shift will give you a free cup of coffee when you buy a bag of beans from them. Seven Mile might, as well. Cultivar won't even give you a damned stamp on your card when you buy a bag of beans.
As we all know, craft coffee is expensive. Sometimes you just need to find a spot to get out of your house and do some reading or studying without breaking the bank. Jupiter House is the best bang-for-your-buck if you're just looking for the cheapest way to get caffeinated in town.
Chatting with friends
Shift is a great place to just hang out with some friends and drink coffee. The place is bright and no one will look at you askance for talking too loud. It's a nice little walk to and from the square, too. West Oak Coffee Bar and Seven Mile are also great spots to sit and chat.
Outside of Denton City Limits
If you're outside of the City of Denton, but in need of coffee, don't fret - we have you covered. Kimzey's is Denton County's newest coffee shop. It's located in Argyle right beside Earl's 377 Pizza and even has a drive-thru. Read more about it here. A little further out in Flower Mound lies Trio Coffee which has been doing its thing for a few years now. One coffee shop that we always make an excuse to stop by when we are in the area is Edison Coffee Co. in Highland Village. Edison's used to be known as "Roots Coffeehouse," but underwent a name change in 2016. Comb's Coffee is a roaster/shop in Corinth, TX that we have yet to check out, but are eager to swing by next time we're in need of a caffeine fix in Corinth. All of these places are doing quality work in the field of third wave coffee and are even worth the short drive if you're looking to get out of dodge for a bit.