Jo’s out-javas those others

That’s the conclusion to draw, I think, from the fact that Starbucks has announced its plans to shutter some 600 of its outlets around the nation, that only two on the big closure list are in Austin, and that one of those two has been in a geographic face-off with local favorite Jo’s Hot Coffee on South Congress.

There’s dog-friendly Jo’s, independent stand-alone that sprang up on the pavement where a used-car lot used to be, Jo’s without much shade, Jo’s building a name from scratch as a venture after the pie biz and before Lamberts, Jo’s with beer, juices, and food to stand alone or accompany the caffeine.

Maybe Starbucks has good coffee, but I don’t know. Caffeine-ingestion at the homestead begins and ends with unsweetened piping-hot black or very chilly iced coffee brewed from house-ground Ruta Maya beans picked up at the Farm to Market. The filter is Melitta number six. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a Starbucks, and I’ve never consumed any Starbucks product. The first Starbucks that I can remember was the one on Congress with the knobs outside the windows to ward off Evil Bus Riders (I’m one). Little City was downtown first and has always welcomed everybody, open from the beginning to all life-forms on the Avenue.

Jo’s has been a magnet on Congress south of the river since its earliest days. Long may it thrive and prosper!

4 Comments so far

  1. triman on July 18th, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

    Starbucks isn’t evil, they’ve done a lot to create a marketplace where drinking coffee is acceptable, even fashionable which has opened up for a lot of other independent and corporate coffee joints. Maybe not so much here in the US, but certainly further afield.

    I can remember back in the 80’s even in NYC, where coffee was meant to be hot enough to use to defrost your hands and the car door lock in the winter, and strong enough to use as sun protection in the summer, taste wasn’t the number-1 consideration. I like Jo’s to. It’s a favorite stop on the way back from cycling on Saturdays. However, when in a strange town, without a strong recommendation for a good place for coffee, Starbucks is a solid alternative, not because their coffee is the best, not because they are the cheapest(hell no!) but because they’ll make it your way.

    Mines a triple shot, grande americano. Don’t even get me started on the first time I asked for that at Bouldin Creek coffee shop, their laughter reminded me of being a 5yr old at school and accidentally wetting myself, I’d never been back until this morning and I thought their coffee wasn’t anything special. Who’d-a-thunk, here I am writing a defense of Starbucks, this is going to hurt!

  2. lauratex on July 18th, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

    Ooh, triman… you’re getting yourself in trouble! :-D No, but it’s true about Starbucks when you’re traveling to much less-diversified places, like the middle of Arkansas, which I did recently. I was such the yuppie technologyg lover – I used my iPhone to find the Starbucks on our cross country move back to Austin. But now that I’m here in Austin, I try to stay away from Starbucks when possible, on principle. But I’m also not that picky about my coffee, either, after living in Ecuador (which produces good beans, but exports most of it) and subsisting on instant coffee! At least with instant, you can make it as strong as you want!

  3. odoublegood on July 18th, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

    I don’t think of Austin as much of a coffee town, even now. It’s not that good coffee isn’t available, but [iced] tea still reigns supreme. Anderson’s was it for the longest time when it came to coffee. Back when Sweetish Hill used to serve breakfast outdoors under the trees (Cafe Josie vicinity before that building was constructed), a special blend from Anderson’s used to be served in the little roly-poly pottery cups from Mexico made for hot chocolate. Sweetish Hill still serves Anderson’s. The Coffee Exchange, now departed, also sold locally roasted and blended coffee for several years. Chez Nous may have been first with after-dinner espresso. Spare us all from workplace scorched and weak Mr. Coffee products. Please! Beyond that, tastes in coffee are very personal, I think, with the greatest divisions being (1) between those who like it strong and those who like it weak and (2) between those who adulterate it with a sweetener or a dairy product, real or pretend, and those who prefer it unadorned.

  4. ttrentham on July 19th, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

    I know the reason that Congress location lost out to Jo’s. Jo’s uses actual soy milk instead of that vanilla flavored travesty that Starbucks uses.

    On a more serious note, Austin manages to support the "evil empire" along with quite a few local shops. Starbucks is invaluable when you can’t find something else and it sure is nice to find decent coffee in places where you normally wouldn’t find any. They still haven’t crossed to the east side yet. Over here, you have to go local.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.