Comment of the Day: If You’re Still Stuck on Cafe Artiste

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IF YOU’RE STILL STUCK ON CAFE ARTISTE “I used to work at (for a year) and frequent (10+ years) Café Artiste. Bill — the coffee you miss is Southern Pecan by Lola Savannah. You may find it at Central Market or can order it from their website (now renamed Texas Pecan). It actually had real slivers of pecan in it. Artiste was a great place to hang out but it never did well financially aside from weekend breakfast rushes. When they had to furlough everyone just to afford getting the AC fixed (which is like life support in Houston), it was the warning sign the end was near. I would assume Black Hole coffee, just blocks away, is the spiritual successor and it seems much better run/organized. I’ve since moved on in life and out of Montrose, but will always have special memories of Artiste.” [SL, commenting on West Main Standalone Now Available for Next Restaurant]

10 Comment

  • They sell Texas Pecan coffee (brewed that is) at Kraftsman Bakery on 22nd St. in the Heights. So so good.

  • I never went to Cafe Artiste, I just want to validate that this is the best freaking coffee. It smells like heaven and tastes even better. I received a package as a gift and for the first time could claim that I had a “favorite” coffee.

  • Houston has some of the best coffee in the US due to its boutique roasting operations, port access and proximity to quality beans. Ask the counter what they serve – if the answer is Lola Savannah, Katz or Fontana (my personal favorite), you’re in for a treat.

  • I went to Artiste with a few friends about six years ago. We were talking and laughing, not being loud, not drinking anything stronger than coffee. We got so many unfriendly stares from laptop users for being rude enough to socialize in public. The place sounded like a library.

  • “Not organized” was actually the charming strength of Cafe Artiste. If you prefer profit and organization, go to Starbucks.

  • Yes Marmer! The Black Hole is convivial, people talking, even to people at other tables. Certainly, the Black Hole is run better, clean, better decor etc– but I wonder what is the secret ingredient that makes it lively while Cafe Artiste was so glum.
    The tables at Cafe Artiste were weirdly both sticky and greasy, but I don’t think that explained the atmosphere there

  • Thanks SL, as well as the others, for the tips about Southern Pecan and coffee in general.

  • @Harold, as a regular at Artiste in the 90’s (nearly every day), I don’t recall it being “glum.” I guess it must have changed by the 00’s. It was a pretty lively and happening spot back when we frequented it, the sort of place where lots of new friends, lovers, and enemies would be made and nights could get fairly raucous.

  • Honestly, the vibe at Artiste screamed “hobby” more than business and it showed. Just because a place is well run doesn’t mean it instantly turns into a corporate Starbucks. And ultimately the front of house and customer-facing failures and shortcomings did this place in. And it isn’t like they lost because of Starbucks. I know because the neighborhood supports several local coffee shops in addition to the big guys such as Starbucks, Duncans, what-have-you.

    I’m not sure I’d recommend Black Hole as an alternative unless you just don’t care about a good cup of coffee. They can’t pull a good shot to save their lives over there. Judging bu their bitter coffee they use a combo of a dirty machine and stale beans that have been sitting in the top of the grinder too long. NASTY.

    Whatever their deal may be, Blacksmith beats them hands down in terms of accuracy, cleanliness, you name it. The baristas there know how to pull a frickin’ proper shot, plus they provide niche brew methods like chemex, pour-overs etc. Anyone that loves the oily quality of a well-pulled shot (not to mention the crema), will want to steer away from Blech Hole. My only request- that Blacksmith get an AeroPress or two…

  • @Mother Hydra:
    Yes, if you can still enjoy your “well-pulled AeroPress frickin’ proper shot with crema” while being surrounded by what is basically a strip mall concrete desert engulfed in traffic noise and pollution then Blacksmith might be right for you. I’d rather sip my good cup of coffee in the serene outskirts of the Menil collection.