photo of a5 coffee cups in a row, on a wooden table, decorated with a froth art.

3 Riverside Coffee Shops Worth Trying

By Adriana Rezal

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Since coming to university, I’ve dramatically increased the amount of coffee I drink and the amount of time I spend in coffee shops. With a student lifestyle that is consumed by tests and studying, I’m sure many of my fellow Longhorns can appreciate a coffee shop that provides tasty caffeinated drinks and a productive atmosphere. Cafés like Lucky Lab and Medici’s are easily accessible for those who live near or on campus, but what about UT’s off campus residents?

At times, residing in the Riverside area can feel pretty remote from on-campus life. Weekends can feel especially isolating, as shuttle busses to UT don’t run as frequently (or at all on Saturdays). But Riverside residents still need their caffeine fix, right? So, whether you live here or happen to be in the neighborhood, here are three coffee shops in the area that you should check out:

1. Cafe Nena’i

Less than six minutes away from the Pleasant Valley area, Café Nena’i is a locally owned coffee shop and bakery that specializes in Latin American food and drink. Founded by Paraguayan native Elena Sanguinetti and her daughter (UT graduate) Gladys Benitez, this coffee shop is a good space to study, hang out and eat tasty cultural food. Although it’s a smaller shop, it’s not too crowded, but just be sure to catch them when they’re open — weekdays from 7 A.M to 3 P.M.

While Café Nena’i is a good study space, there’s a chance you might get distracted by the extremely friendly barista named Guadalupe telling you cool facts about Latin American cuisine and culture. As suggested by Guadalupe, I tried the Cuban Colada (sweetened espresso) and a delicious empanada de jamón y queso (ham and cheese). For those craving a tasty lunch and good study space, I recommend Café Nena’i.

Many UT students are familiar with the MLK Jr. Blvd Bennu Coffee shop, with its crowded tables and mismatched chairs. However, not many people know of Bennu Coffee’s second location on South Congress Avenue. Bennu Coffee on Congress is convenient for late-night workers in the Riverside area. Open 24 hours, this shop is a convenient space for all-nighter study sessions but like its MLK counterpart, Bennu on Congress can get pretty crowded at times. Despite this, the space carries a productive atmosphere, as many people there are usually busy typing away or answering phone calls.

2. Bennu Coffee

When I feel like drinking something fancier than my normal black coffee, I go for Bennu’s “Don Quixote” gourmet mocha. Whether hot or iced, I like this drink because it’s chocolatey sweet and has a kick of Mexican spiced powder.  

3. The Buzz Mill

If you’re up late and can’t make it to Bennu Coffee on Congress, The Buzz Mill is another potential 24/7 option. Just off Riverside on Town Creek Drive, this coffee shop really owns up to its mission of “serving the neighborwoods.” The Buzz Mill is a cabin-style coffee shop, complete with bearded men in flannel shirts, the occasional Huskie (yes, its doggo friendly!) and even a large stuffed bear. Coupled with this freezing weather, the lumberjack-hipster vibes make you feel like you’ve stepped out of Austin and into the Alaskan frontier.

The Buzz Mill doubles as a bar, so if you’re of age you can try their selection of coffee, cocktails or beer. With an outside seating area and stage, The Buzz Mill also hosts events like comedy shows and bingo nights. While there’s a lot of socializing going on, there’s a small hallway-like space inside that’s study-friendly.

Living near Riverside doesn’t have to feel lonely, especially with cool spaces like these nearby. So, whether you’re an on or off campus UT student, check out these coffee shops (and others) next time you’re in the area.