When someone mentions coffee, most of us perk up. But everyone has a different opinion on what makes the very best cup; is it a question of interesting flavors, premium beans, or quality craftsmanship? Trying to answer this question means visiting some of the most popular coffee shops in Abilene, as well as campus favorites. Here’s a look at how Monks, Mezamiz Deux, The Coffee Shack on the Hill, Starbucks and Einstein Bros Bagels compare.
Monks in downtown Abilene is often cited as a student favorite, with many students sporting its T-shirts with pride. Of all of the locations mentioned, Monks perhaps feels the most like a classic coffee shop: interesting art adorns the walls, indie music plays softly and young patrons study at tables or recline on couches. There’s definitely a “college town” feel. For those who are after a strong cup of Italian roast, there is perhaps no better location; the barista will give you your own small pot of French-pressed coffee, which relies on pressure and filtering to give the drink extra flavor. Monks is ideal for veteran caffeinators who want to study or just enjoy an authentic coffeehouse experience.
Mezamiz Deux is a somewhat lesser-known venue located in the Cloisters, a small and artistically inspired shopping square, and neighbors a record shop. The name comes from the French word for “my friends,” and there is a thoroughly bohemian feel around the shop. No two mugs are the same color or shape, the furniture pieces are all different and the overall decoration feels distinctly artistic. Mezamiz takes the same approach with its drinks. Order the CafÃ© Royal, and you’ll be treated to tasty coffee infused with honey. Even the hot chocolate has an artisanal take, made with rich Ghirardelli and impeccably “chocolatey.” Mezamiz is a perfect venue for an adventurous consumer looking to try something unusual in a quirky-yet-inviting setting.
A newcomer to Abilene, The Coffee Shack on the Hill opened on Nov. 1. The Shack is geared specifically towards the ACU community, placing Christian decorations alongside a jukebox and a TV playing films. There is also a separate room set aside for families. Although the main shop is smaller than the others, it serves quite a large variety of items, including bagels and 100 percent fruit smoothies. Priding itself on its use of healthy ingredients and shunning artificial flavoring, The Shack can quickly brew customers a caramel coffee that, contrary to some alternatives, tastes almost exactly like caramel and not flavoring. The Coffee Shack on the Hill offers excellent options for those who enjoy ordering flavored drinks instead of ordinary coffee.
By comparison, Starbucks coffee tends to feel more processed; the regular coffee often tastes burnt and bitter, while the overly sugary flavored drinks can leave the drinker with a headache.
Einstein Bros Bagels is an excellent choice for a decent morning cup of coffee with breakfast, but it has fairly restrictive hours. Nighttime and weekend coffee drinkers are unable to take full advantage of it. Both Starbucks and Einstein’s have the advantage of accepting Bean Bucks and being on campus, but are probably more practical quick-fixes than places for serious coffee drinkers to seek a quality brew.
So, to summarize: Monks is the overall winner of the bunch for best-tasting coffee and relaxed atmosphere; Mezamiz Deax is perhaps best suited for trying exotic coffee options in a unique environment; The Coffee Shack on the Hill is a family-friendly and healthy alternative; Starbucks and Einstein’s are practical spots to grab a caffeine fix without dishing out real money.