By Lara Berendt
The area around East Sixth Street in Austin is a burgeoning cultural hot spot, with modern housing complexes and trendy new restaurants and bars springing up all of the time. Progress Coffee at the corner of San Marcos and East Fifth streets joined the community a few years ago and quickly became a neighborhood hangout and workspace for hip, health-conscious locals.
Progress has great ambiance, a lovely outdoor patio, and an extensive menu of sandwiches, wraps, plus the usual bagel and pastry offerings. I’ve often enjoyed a refreshing iced coffee and turkey sandwich here (back when I still ate meat). The shop serves organic, fair-trade coffee, and food made with local, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Quirky and colorful (and pricey) artwork always adorns the walls, and trendy people on Macbooks abound. Today, it was after 4 p.m., so I just sipped an iced herbal tea and lost myself in the digital glare of my own Macbook, while head-bobbing oh-so-subtly to the delightful oldies soul and R&B they were playing.
This coffee house is a great place to to people-watch, or try to get work done, especially on a quiet afternoon. The cappuccinos, however, are mostly froth, and menu prices are somewhat higher than other places, probably because local, organic ingredients cost a bit more. Depending on what you’re looking for in a cafe, you might not mind some of these downsides.
Another progressive aspect of this coffee house is its compost and recycling station, which they’ve recently expanded into a larger, more prominent fixture. I know I, and a lot of other Austinites, appreciate the gestures of sustainability the shop’s owners are making. Features like these are what keep me coming back to this artsy East Austin spot.
500 San Marcos Street
Austin, TX 78702
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