My brother lived in Austin years ago, and the town has changed a lot since then. That is, besides the construction of a fence and pillars at the North Congress Ave. end of the Great Walk in front of the Texas state capitol — to prevent people like my brother from accidentally driving vehicles down the front steps and chipping the pavement.

Mean Joe Greene's walk-of-fame star on Trinity St., right next to a star for Sandra Day O'ConnorTalking with the locals, the biggest attraction to living there seemed to be, “it’s fun and it’s cheap.” It certainly isn’t the surface-of-the-sun heat in summer.

But being a college down, Austin also seems to try to capitalize on its “Keep Austin Weird” vibe — and yes, they sell T-shirts that say that, just as in Santa Cruz. However, looking down on the Austin walk-of-fame sidewalk on Trinity St. between 4th & 5th Sts., you’ll find a star for Sandra Day O’Connor right next to a star for Mean Joe Greene. So who is going to argue?

Another change in Austin is the improvement of its coffee scene. Patika Coffee is one of several examples. Except this example is really a coffee cart that sits in an otherwise vacant-looking parking lot downtown, next to the beached trailers of a couple of other food purveyors. Think of it like Réveille Coffee Co. — just grittier, less mobile, and with sketchier neighbors.

Austin keepin' it weird The monster that is Bing.com takes over an empty lot for SXSW

The parking lot is separated from the sidewalk traffic by handrails, and there’s an outdoor table/picnic bench and an over-hanging tarp for shade.

Inside their two-person cart, two staffers run the operation with a two-group Synesso machine, using Cuvée Coffee. They are apologetically required to use paper cups by city ordinance, as they are classified as a “food truck” and thus have limitations on the vessels and utencils they can pass out. (Apparently, food trucks are required by Austin law to generate disposable waste.)

They pull shots with a rich, medium brown, even crema on a layer of a thinner-bodied, more acidic espresso than served by the Caffé Medici serving Cuvée across the street. It’s potent, narrower in flavor profile, and lighter on body: a stereotypical “third wave” North American espresso — you know, the kind that’s high on punch and low on balance and finesse.

Read the review of Patika Coffee in downtown Austin, TX.

Parking lot in downtown Austin that hosts Patika Coffee The Patika Coffee shack and seating area

The Patika Coffee Synesso The Patika Coffee espresso