If you haven’t noticed, there’s a buzz going on in the local coffee scene. Whether you’re looking for a place to pry your eyelids open in the morning or a quiet spot to get some work done, McAllen’s up-and-coming coffee culture has the perfect non-chain java shop for you. Here’s my list of the best places to find a killer cup of coffee in (and around) McAllen.
MoonBeans Coffee – 5401 N. 10th Street
The city is jittery for MoonBeans Coffee. The north McAllen meeting place has been around since 1999, and is, without a doubt, the godfather of the local roasted bean scene. In 17 years, it’s expanded to three shops in the area and recently added a coffee truck to the mix. Cool vibes and comfy seating best describe this McAllen mainstay, where it roasts and grinds the beans in house for maximum freshness. The recent expansion of its 10th Street location added more space and seating while still maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect place to hole up for hours and study for mid-terms or catch up with old friends. Feeling crafty? Try one of its assortments of craft beers instead.
Black Iron Café – 4001 N. 23rd Street
I love supporting local businesses, especially when those local shops support other local shops, and Black Iron Café sources and supports small businesses wherever it can. This tucked-away café is located inside the largest single-floor library in the country, the McAllen Public Library. Its namesake and décor pay homage to the railroad system that spurred the growth of our region a hundred years ago, so it only makes sense to have a coffee shop inside one of McAllen’s most monumental buildings. With unpretentious vibes and a quiet location, this unassuming community café is the ideal place to show up and get some work done.
Not only can you get some kick-in-the-pants organic Tlaneski coffee at Black Iron Café, but it also serves up fresh made Panini sandwiches and health-conscious salads and wraps. Its most popular is the Old Main, which gets its name from the former location of the public library on Main Street. You can get it in salad, wrap or Panini form, and it’s stuffed with generous layers of ham, turkey, bacon and provolone cheese with a slather of jalapeno garlic aioli. If you’ve already had your caffeine fix for the day, opt for the pomegranate green tea and thank me later.
Agrarian Coffee Co. – 3900 N. 10th Street (inside Compass Bank)
If you haven’t heard of Agrarian Coffee, you’re probably not alone. It opened two months ago and mostly serves the corporate coffee lovers working in the Compass Bank building on 10th and Nolana. What makes it special is it imports and roasts its own beans, making for the freshest cup of coffee you can sip and savor. With standout roasts from Chiapas, Mexico and Ethiopia, Agrarian Coffee is adding to the booming coffee culture in McAllen with each perfectly poured cup.
Insider Tip: If you’re a cold-brew enthusiast, you can take a flask of cold coffee concentrate to go, so you can feed your caffeine addiction at home, like a real fiend would do.
Jitterz Coffee Bar – 1625 N. Conway, Mission, Texas
Ask the most sophisticated coffee enthusiasts, and they will tell you Jitterz Coffee Bar has been a trendsetter in the local coffee scene. Jitterz has been raising the bar and inspiring coffee lovers since opening its doors in 2003. Highly respected amongst its peers, it’s the coffee house other coffee houses have a crush on. Try its Affogato or Ice Cream Latte to cool off in the South Texas summer, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try the Blended Dirty Chai Latte to satisfy your cravings. You don’t have to be a coffee connoisseur or flash facial hair for entry into this low-key establishment either; it’s a hangout haven for everyone.
Grind Coffee Co. – 315 W. University Drive, Edinburg, Texas
One of the area’s newest caffeinated kids is a game changer. Grind Coffee Co. is centered between the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus and the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg, and it makes for a mix of clientele as eclectic as its coffee. Coffee enthusiasts can rejoice with the perfect pour-over cup, but this coffee-centric spot is a great fit regardless of where you fall on the java-addiction scale. If you’re the curious type, like myself, cozy up to the bar and watch the master baristas go to work, constructing the perfect coffee concoctions, answering any questions you have about its standout roasts. Caffeinated college kids fill this uber-hip hot spot in the afternoons, creating a social atmosphere with a different kind of buzz around campus. This all-day hangout will open your eyes, and your mind, with its carefully crafted caffeine-fueled cocktails. Try the Cortado if you’re craving a creamy espresso or the nitrous-powered Black and Blue cold coffee on tap if you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up.
I couldn’t end the list without adding an honorable mention. Shake Express is one of McAllen’s newest health food shops that specialize in shakes, smoothies, cold press juices and coffee. Its protein coffee is what gets it the nod though. Two of my daily dietary staples are protein and caffeine, and this java drink offers 15 grams of the muscle-building ingredient to your day while adding pep in your step. Yes and Yes.
The coffee culture is alive and thriving in McAllen, and this lineup of non-chain coffee shops is proof that people from all walks of life enjoy a carefully crafted cup of fresh-brewed coffee. Whether you grab a morning cup on the go or drink in the evening before an all-night study session, there are plenty of homegrown places to find your coffee fix.