A Guide to Iowa City Coffee Shops
Since the mid-90s, Java House has been a locally beloved hallmark among Iowa City coffee shops, the downtown store is shared with Heirloom Salad Company and offers guests a timeless western ambiance underscored by crafty wooden furnishings, exposed brick walls, framed photographs and portraits, and front row seats to the hustle and bustle of E. Washington Street. Moreover, the delightful balance of charm and utility makes it an easy go-to for daytime meetings with colleagues, long overdue coffee dates, or solo study sessions.
Located on the Northside of downtown, Tru is an adorable addition to the ever-budding index of Iowa City coffee shops, given its warm earthy tones set against minimalistic white walls, ample seating arrangements, vibrant plants, natural sunlight, and wide selection of vintage clothing. Rest assured, their artisan coffee beverages are concocted with flavorful house-made syrups; other menu items include nutrient-packed smoothies, toasts, and breakfast burritos.
This gem perched on the second floor of the Chauncey showcases a sleek modern atmosphere boasting chic furnishings, art-speckled white walls, and unmatched views of downtown. It’s a great spot to study, chat with friends, or unwind before or after a FilmScene screening, and as far as coffee is concerned, fix! features a rotating list of top-notch roasters in an effort to ensure a variety of unique flavors and tastes are available to be savored by a myriad of palettes daily.
A stone’s toss from Hickory Hill Park – 190 acres of scenic forest, abandoned fields, trails, reconstructed prairie, and wetlands centered on Ralston Creek and its tributary drainages – Press specializes in French Pressed coffee, and also serves espresso drinks, smoothies, tea, pastries, and more. Feel free to soak in some sun on the patio, get some work done upstairs or in the basement, or cruise through the convenient drive-up window.
Bringing delectable Latin-inspired flavors to downtown, Mammitas is where you can reboot and recharge before class, whether that’s via signature drinks like the Horchata and Dulce de Leche Lattes, an authentic Cuban sandwich with plantain chips, Mexican sweet bread (Pan Dulce), Abuelitas famous hot chocolate, or snuggling up beside the fireplace and passing time with friends. It also shares the building with Flowers by Jacqueline, home to the freshest flowers in Iowa City and a wide selection of arrangements destined to impress that special somebody.
Just down the road from the University of Iowa campus, Higher Ground provides students and visitors alike a cozy retreat equipped with plenty of tabletops, art-adorned walls, and accommodations for studying. In addition to the best coffee ground fresh to order, they have organic loose-leaf and flowering teas, fruit smoothies, lemonade, and lunch fare.
Another beloved staple, The Encounter Cafe is a relaxed getaway with soothing rustic elements, lots of seating arrangements, cozy booths, and a crackling fireplace. The staff maintains a tempting selection of meticulously brewed coffee beverages, scrumptious homemade baked goods such as soft pretzels and cinnamon rolls, and breakfast dishes made with as many locally grown and purchased ingredients as possible.
Snuggled among the gorgeous buildings lining the streets of downtown, this adorable little abode treats guests to an aesthetically gifted atmosphere accentuated by green and yellow tones, a few chic furnishings, natural sunlight, and plenty of vibrant plants. The picturesque decor serves as an accomplice to thoughtfully crafted, rewardingly delicious seasonal coffee drinks like the curry-enriched Pumpkin Spicy and The Eleven, a heavenly mixture of orange, cranberry, rosemary, and clove.
Whether you’d like to appreciate the company of loved ones over a steamy cup of joe, peruse through row upon row of literary inspiration before settling into a well-manicured reading nook, or peacefully study amidst the sophisticated, whimsical charm of a beloved neighborhood bookstore, whatever the case may be, Prairie Lights Cafe has got you covered.
Every great writer needs inspiration. Poindexter fuels your muse with author-approved decor and plenty of caffeinated beverages. Recharge with tasty cafe offerings, including coffee, pastries and more – perfect for hungry travelers and Hawkeyes hitting the books. A wall covered in more than 180,000 No. 2 pencils (a nod to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop) sets the scene for this on-point hangout.
Across the street from the iconic Old Capitol Museum, Cortado serves high-quality espresso drinks and drip coffee amidst laid-back European-inspired digs. Aside from artisan java, they have an assortment of baked pastries, nutritious sandwiches, authentic pita bread, salads, and soups.
If you’re headed North on Highway 1 or returning home after a long road trip, stop by Dodge Street Coffeehouse, where the kids can get some energy out in a designated play area and adults can fuel up with a quality cup of joe – there’s even an efficient drive-thru that’ll get you right back on the road and moving toward your final destination in no time!
Scooter’s Coffee is a drive-thru franchise that has been serving world-class coffee for more than 20 years. The menu features an array of specialty espresso beverages, single-origin coffee, fruit smoothies, Red Bull Infusions, Cold Brew, baked-from-scratch pastries, and savory breakfast options ranging from breakfast burritos to hot sandwiches. The Caramelicious is their signature drink, you can’t go wrong with ordering this rich, velvety, caramel treat.
This rapidly blossoming java business started out in 1998 as a single drive-thru coffeehouse in Bellevue, Nebraska clinging to the following principles: find a great location and stay committed to high-quality drinks, speed of service, and a BIG smile. Since those humble beginnings, Scooter’s has grown to over 300 locations in 21 states across the nation.
If you enjoyed this guide to the best coffee shops in Iowa City, check out our list of the Top 10 Coffee Shops in Cedar Rapids!
I do not claim to own any of the images used in this article, unless otherwise noted, they are sourced from each business’s Facebook page.