Montrose may be Houston's most well-caffeinated neighborhood, but that hasn't stopped another newcomer from trying to supply the seemingly insatiable demand for brewed beverages. While competing with the likes of Southside Espresso and Blacksmith won't be easy, Siphon Coffee, which opened Monday morning after a six-month build out, has a few tricks up its sleeve to set itself apart.
The starts with the shop's namesake brewing method, but most people probably won't sample it right away. The Japanese machine takes about 10 minutes to brew a siphon, and a siphon for two costs $11. Despite the price, owner Michael Caplan tells CultureMap that the shop has sold about 25 each day as patrons are eager to sample the process.
More so than the coffee, food options help set Siphon apart. "The biggest surprise is people are coming in and enjoying the food," Caplan says.
He credits the food's initial success to former Brasserie 19 executive chef Amanda McGraw, who consulted on the project and can currently be found in the kitchen training staff. Breakfast options include a variety of sweet and savory pastries with seven panini and savory snacks available for lunch and dinner. The menu's variety makes Siphon as much a cafe with good coffee as a Blacksmith-style coffee shop with good food. Caplan cites both the Texas benedict (biscuit, sausage, jalapeno gravy and poached eggs) and the beef empanada as two of his early favorites.
"The biggest surprise is people are coming in and enjoying the food."
The space itself is clean and comfortable, with a variety of seating options that range from cafe tables to couches and a cushy chairs. Free Wi-Fi and plenty of plugs mean laptop hobos are welcome, which should appeal to St. Thomas students looking for a new spot in the wake of Dirk's closure. Caplan estimates that the exterior renovations will be complete in the next few weeks.
The eight beer and four wine taps are part of what makes Siphon an evening draw. It's open until 10 p.m. during the week and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
On my initial visit Wednesday morning, a small group of people had arrived to check out the coffee newcomer. My blackberry muffin had a soft texture with lots of fruit throughout, which transcends the ho-hum grocery store muffins that are a break room staple. The chicken empanada was even better thanks to a flaky crust, slightly spicy filling and the garlic kick of a side of chimichurri sauce. Based on how tasty both pastries were, I'll be back to sample the panini and for a beer or two.
Maybe Montrose doesn't need another coffee shop, but, when one with as much potential as Siphon Coffee opens, it's still a welcome addition.
Siphon Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Fridays; 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.