There are some coffee shops where you go to talk with friends, and others where you order your coffee, sit down with your laptop, and shut the hell up. This list is for the latter.
There are three Medici's in town, but here I'm recommending the one on Guadalupe, right across the street from UT. My favorite place to work is on the second floor, above all the hulabaloo of customers ordering and espresso machines whirring.
The grad school atmosphere here is no joke. Step inside Flightpath's quirky interior, and you'll be immediately greeted with the click-clack of typing and the glow of a dozen laptop screens. Thesis writers, welcome to your satellite office.
Family-owned, organic, and fossil fuel-free, Summermoon has a wood-firing coffee roaster on the outside, and looks like a spa on the inside. People (including me) come here to study or work in a zen-like atmosphere, which is stone-filled and serene. Namaste.
Progress is the kind of spot I hit up when I'm feeling a bit more indulgent, because granted -- it's pricier. That's because everything (well, almost everything) here is organic and local, so if I come in early enough to order breakfast before getting down to work, I go big: Jalapeno breakfast biscuit with tomato and guacamole. If it's October or April (i.e. the best two months weather-wise in Austin), I go outside to work on the patio.
Dominican Joe practically needs no introduction, but I include it on this list simply to point out how many meetings people seem to have here. What's that all about? Maybe it's the cavernous, multi-level space that could fit entire St. Ed's undergraduate courses if it wanted to, or the fact that it's open a bit later than most coffee joints ('til 11pm). Either way, Dominican Joe is just busy enough, not too noisy but not too freaky-quiet.
Parts of Anderson Road are slightly bland, but it's like weird/funky/78704 Austin kindly dropped this adorable little bungalow coffee shop right into its center. Genuine Joe's has an open "living room" area that's slightly more active, with a private room that can be reserved for meetings, as well as a sunken space in the back that's quiet and generally too crowded. It's my favorite one for banging out work.
Twenty-four Bennu Coffee is a freelancer's/student's paradise -- not the least of which because of their electrical outlets, which hang, fire code approved I'm sure, from the ceiling. The coffee is wonderful and the food options have expanded, so when it's time for a lunch break -- or a midnight snack, depending on how the day's going -- I order a Fricano's Deli-edition Turkey Special.
Of the eight places mentioned on this list, Thunderbird turns up its music the loudest and its staff air guitars the hardest -- but I don't mind. It's a long, bright, open space with plenty of seating, as well as a nice big bench-filled yard. True, it doesn't yield the hushed library-level volumes of the others, but it DOES have beers on tap when I'm ready for happy hour.