It’s finally chilly in Waco, and so the time has come to break out our sweaters and fend off the cold on the daily. What better way to get warm and cozy than from the snug embrace of a nice cup of coffee? Over the years, Waco has seen its fair share of snazzy coffeehouses pop up around town, so there’s no shortage of choices. We’ve gathered a list of some of the Our Guide to the Hottest Places to Grab a Cup of Joe in Waco.
Let’s start out with this year’s Best of Waco winner: Pinewood. It has two connecting buildings, each serving a different purpose. On the left side is their coffeehouse, a bright and spacious room with plenty of available seating. As nice as the indoor seating is, I myself prefer the beautiful outdoor patio when the weather is agreeable. If you want to get work done in a relaxing setting, Pinewood is the place to go. It’s never too loud and it’s comfortable enough to sit for hours.
As for the coffee itself, Pinewood leans into the philosophy of quality over quantity. Yes, most of us wish their serving sizes were a bit larger, but only because of the incredible quality of taste. I have no qualms about grabbing one of their chocolate chip cookies to compliment my coffee.
But what should you get? Well, they make killer lattes and cappuccinos. Ask about the different flavors they offer; you might be surprised by some of the choices! And for something with a little more pizzazz, try their Fall Spice.
And yes, if you were wondering, they do stay true to their name: the ceiling is made of pinewood. For more, visit their website pinewoodroasters.com.
Lighthouse Coffee & Wine
My favorite thing about Lighthouse is just how friendly the staff is every time I step foot in the door. The first time I had the pleasure of going to Lighthouse, I was still just a coffee rookie, so I had no idea what to get. The barista was patient with me and walked me through several options, helping me find the best fit. Ever since I’ve only had similar positive and friendly experiences with Lighthouse staff.
I love dropping by Lighthouse whether I need to get some work done or to spend time with a friend. The atmosphere is unique because of its large windows taking up most of the walls. During the day, it feels light and spacious, and at night it’s a completely different vibe. They also serve cocktails and wine, making it a chill place to hit up for a couple of drinks at night. And if you haven’t yet tried their Friday night dinner, I would highly recommend it—it’s always a quality meal.
They have some fun syrups to choose from to give your brew a unique taste. Try adding the lavender syrup to your coffees for a nice twist. I love to experiment myself; last week, I got a latte with oat milk and maple brown sugar syrup, and it hit the spot. Alternatively, I’m also a huge fan of their matcha tea! To learn more, visit their website at lighthousewaco.com.
When I first visited Waco, this was the place to go if you wanted something more than just the same-old Starbucks coffee you could find in any city. Common Grounds is a big part of Waco’s identity, and with its close proximity to Baylor’s campus on 8th street, it was inseparable from the university’s identity as well. In fact, another location has opened up on campus in the Student Union Building.
While the on-campus location is convenient for students and faculty, I’d still recommend getting into the habit of stopping by the original location for the vibe. It’s a great place to socialize and meet new Baylor students while learning about what’s happening around Baylor. Common Grounds also has two great assets: the regular, live concerts they host on their patio and the fact that Heritage Creamery is right next door. So, for a mix of socialization, music and a place to pick up a quality drink, Common Grounds is a great choice.
And if the campus vibe isn’t your thing but you still want to try out their brew, there’s also a location in Woodway. You can’t go wrong with a classic like the Cowboy Coffee, but I personally love the Milky Way. For more, visit their website at cgwaco.com.
Magnolia Press is more than just a tourist stop, it’s a great place for visitors and Wacoans alike to get their coffee fix. Being a Gaines family creation, it’s no surprise that the entire shop is beautiful inside and out. It’s in a great location, being a part of the Silos, so it’s the perfect choice if you want to get some shopping done. It also has a comfortable seating area which I have a bad habit of cozying up to for hours.
The menu itself has a nice little selection of coffee, teas, seasonal and other fun drinks. I find it hard to go to Magnolia Press without ordering a tasty treat to go with my coffee. They make delicious croissants and muffins, and I sometimes can’t stop myself from going back for seconds.
Mangolia Press is the place to go for comfort and atmosphere. But make no mistake, their regular drip coffee is also shockingly good. I’m also a huge fan of The 1905, both hot and iced. See more on their website at magnolia.com.
Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits
Dichotomy is a whole vibe by itself. The atmosphere is cool and stylish, if not a little dark. Though the weather is a little cold right now, I would highly recommend checking out their rooftop patio area when the weather warms up. It’s the perfect spot to spend a Sunday afternoon. If I’m looking for a coffeehouse to just bring a friend to sit down and catch up, Dichotomy is my go-to. It’s just a chill place to unwind with a good cup of coffee.
And speaking of the coffee, caffeine lovers in Waco will swear by Dichotomy’s espresso. Of course, there are plenty of other great choices. The menu rotates seasonally in pretty drastic ways, which encourages patrons to keep checking back for changes. Of course, they have unchanging options as well—you’ll always be able to grab a latte or cortado. They also have a cocktail bar for those more interested in the nightlife of Waco!
It’s a great place to hang out, and on the right nights, a relaxing place to wind down and get some studying or work done. I’ve already hyped up the espressos and lattes, but if you ever have the chance to stop by for their seasonal Witch’s Brew Iced Coffee, you won’t want to miss out. But, truthfully, the best way to go about dichotomy is to try something new each time. Learn more here dichotomycs.com.
Z’s at the Curry – Z’s Brew Coffee & Crepes
The first thing you’ll realize about Z’s is that they’re an upscale establishment. Right outside their entrance, they have a sign listing their dress code and house rules. This is all to create a refined experience, and boy do they deliver. The second floor of the building, their cocktail bar and lounge, is dark and classy. It holds an air of mysterious elegance.
The ground floor is a bit lax in comparison. Patrons are greeted at the front door with a bright neon sign that says, “but first, coffee” to set a welcoming atmosphere. The room is spacious, the barista is friendly and the atmosphere is still touched by a hint of class. But most importantly, the coffee is tasty! They also have a crepe menu, with both sweet and savory options. It makes for a nice light breakfast.
If you’re looking for an upscale option, Z’s is the choice for you. It goes without saying that they don’t hold back on the quality of their espresso drinks, but they have some fun coffee choices as well. The S’mores Latte was a delicious delight, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Peanut Butter and Chocolate Latte. Visit the Facebook page here to learn more.
BRÛ Artisan Coffee Works
BRÛ is a quaint little place, tucked away behind a shop and, believe it or not, operating from an old elevator shaft. There’s really only ever one barista in the little alcove, and the entire setup looks minimal. Even the menu has only a few selections, divided between espressos, cold “BRÛs,” chocolate drinks and teas. But despite feeling like a secret location, the outside of the building prominently features a sign sticking out of the corner over Franklin Avenue as if the entire building could be dedicated to the coffee spot—and for good reason.
The truth is, though BRÛ is small and more of an espresso bar than a coffeehouse, it has some of the best quality coffee in the whole city. While other locations may have expansive menus but only a handful of quality choices, BRÛ’s small menu seems very intentional to ensure every choice is the right choice. And it’s not just the coffees—the teas and the pastries are both phenomenal as well.
So, if you’re the type who cares about the quality of the drink above all else, BRÛ is the way to go. I fell in love with the mocha and cortado, but I also feel obligated to add that my Earl Grey Crème was steeped to perfection, making it one of the best cups of Earl Grey I’ve ever had. Find out more on the website bru.cafe
Fabled Bookshop & Cafe
Fabled is as much a coffeehouse as it is a bookstore. Dotting the shelves of books for sale are little cards left by the staff, each recommending their favorite reads. I can’t help myself from buying a new book each time I visit, then promptly sitting down with a drink and cracking open a new read. It feels like a peaceful little library that also happens to serve coffee and drinks.
Their coffee is about as much fun as you’d expect from a coffeehouse-bookstore hybrid! They sport fun names like Muggle Mocha, Sleeping Beauty and Turkish Delight. The store also holds regular fun events, like book signings and pint nights. On December 1st, for example, there will be a book signing event with the authors of “Liturgies for Hope.” If you have kids, Fabled holds a Storytime every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Check out this page to stay up to date with all these events.
I’m a sucker for the Muggle Mocha (if you’ve made it this far, you can probably tell I have a bit of a sweet tooth). I’ve also been told to try the London Fog, an earl grey tea-based drink. The menu has just about every taste you could want, so don’t be afraid to go in blind and pick out something new. To learn more, visit fabledbookshop.com.