By Lara Berendt
If you’ve never heard of Corona Cafe, it’s probably because you don’t live within its vicinity. This hole-in-the-wall neighborhood coffee shop flies below the radars of most local coffee connoisseurs, but the cafe’s regular customers probably prefer it that way.
Corona joined East Austin’s Windsor Park neighborhood in 2009. The cafe is tucked within a little strip mall just northeast of 51st Street and Cameron Road. Owners Brandon and Juliana Gonzales have created an inviting, cheerful space with consistently great coffee drinks and snacks. The color-saturated walls are always adorned with intriguing art, with a new featured artist every few months. On past visits, I’ve encountered a friendly mix of hip young parents with toddlers in tow, solo sippers intently staring at laptop screens, outright hippies and straight-laced professionals grabbing coffee to go.
“Obviously it’s pretty chill here,” said barista Michael White. “There’s not a bunch of characters sitting around playing chess. There are those coffee shops but this isn’t one.”
White said almost all of the shop’s patrons live in the neighborhood. He landed his own barista post there after riding his bike past frequently, then finally stopping in to check it out and striking up a conversation with the owner, Brandon. Now White knows most of the regulars and has their orders memorized.
I haven’t tried every menu item, but can vouch for the quality of Corona’s cappuccino, espresso and iced coffee. Sadly, they no longer seem to offer Torchy’s breakfast tacos on weekends, but they sell a variety of pastries, bagels, sandwiches and empanadas. The spinach and parmesan empanada is one of my favorite afternoon snacks. This morning, I opted for a cappuccino and an old-fashioned glazed donut, which was decadent but worth the calorie-guilt.
Corona has a cozy, laid-back vibe, plays stellar tunes and offers reliable Wi-Fi and plenty of laptop outlets. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, stop by.
1215 Corona Drive
Austin, TX 78723
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