A Guide to Des Moines Coffee Shops
Horizon Line Coffee
Nestled in downtown’s West End Arts District, Horizon Line is an aesthetically gifted hallmark among Des Moines coffee shops, by way of its bright bohemian ambiance, warm earthy tones set against minimalistic white walls, ample chic furnishings, lush verdure, and amenities for a productive day. The picturesque decor serves as an accomplice to thoughtfully crafted, rewardingly delicious seasonal beverages like the blackberry earl grey latte, teas, mocktails, and scrumptious pastries.
Just a block over from Drake University’s campus, Mars Cafe offers guests otherworldly java, breakfast fare, and desserts amidst space-themed digs accentuated by red and white walls, local art, and all the trappings of a cosmic outpost where wayfarers can talk moonshot ideas, catch up with family, and get some studying done. Should you meander on in at the tail end of an exhaustive class schedule, feel free to take a load off with a crisp craft beer or glass of wine.
Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure
If you truly love and appreciate the art of java, search no further than Zanzibar’s, which has been a center for coffee culture and community on Ingersoll Avenue since 1993 and is passionate about small-batch roasting the world’s finest Arabica beans on-site. Furthermore, they do have an enchanting lounge area complete with colorful stained glass windows, elegant gold ceiling tiles, vibrant vegetation, art-adorned walls, and plenty of seating arrangements.
Daisy Chain Coffee
Strolling past the gorgeous buildings dappled throughout East Village and through the front door of this recently opened shop reveals a cozy atmosphere featuring both modern and frontier elements. In addition to tasty takes on your favorite caffeinated pick-me-ups, you can grab some local honey that Daisy Chain’s founder collects from his daily beekeeping.
Near and dear to the heart of downtown’s Gateway Park, this artsy enclave among Des Moines coffee shops doubles as a cultural hub for the city, attracting creatives of all walks. That being said, the works of local artists rotate monthly on the walls surrounding a stage known to host open mics for poets. Although Ritual is identified first and foremost as a cafe serving locally roasted organic coffee, they also have an all-vegetarian menu and treats from some of the best bakeries around.
Scenic Route Bakery
Whether you’d like to sink into an armchair and appreciate the company of loved ones over a steamy cup of joe and delectable pastry, stop by while making your way over to the stunning Iowa State Capitol building grounds, or set up next to a sun-soaked window and peacefully read or work as the world bustles along outside, whatever the case may be, Scenic Route Bakery has got you covered.
Smokey Row Coffee
Upon venturing past the iconic neon sign gracing the brick facade of Smokey Row and through the front door, a classic diner scene will unfold before you, one sporting comfy booths, trinket-speckled walls, and the steady background hum of neighbors breaking bread together.
The Slow Down Coffee Co.
Situated in the historic Highland Park neighborhood and a rock’s skip from Riverview Park, locally owned and operated Slow Down has lots of plants, masterful art pieces, a well-procured retail section, accommodations for remote work, and last but certainly not least, diligently sourced java courtesy of Windmill Coffee Roasters.
Friedrichs purchases only the highest quality coffee beans from small farms and private estates in the world’s most esteemed growing regions. For optimal flavor and award-winning results, they hand-roast those beans in small batches using gas-fired European drum-style roasters. The seating at both of their Des Moines coffee shops is relatively limited, so perhaps plan to grab and enjoy elsewhere!
Hobnob Coffee & Wine Bar
Named after the original Hobnob, a 1940s eatery occupying the same space, the coffee and wine bar here continues an eighty-year tradition of welcoming hotel guests and neighbors alike. Situated next to the elegant lobby of the Hotel Fort Des Moines, Hobnob is easily accessible to all. With an ambiance blending the casual European countryside and approachable elegance, this is a space to be enjoyed for everything from carefully prepared beverages consisting of locally roasted coffee to a quiet rendezvous, inclusive of memorable conversation, sharable cuisine, and fine wine.
Fun fact: listed on the National Register of Historic Places, at least 13 presidents have stayed at the hotel, from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama.
La Barista Coffee
La Barista embodies that reliable no-frills establishment dedicated to turning out the highest quality goods, from coffee to breakfast burritos to homemade cinnamon rolls baked fresh each morning. It’s no wonder they’ve been in business for over two decades and are still goin’ strong! Belly up to the bar, snag the ever-popular booth, or bring in your laptop and work/study at a smaller table while taking advantage of the free WiFi.
Grounds for Celebration
The team here has created one of Des Moines’ largest coffee sources, infusing wonderful coffee, tea, pastries, and food with a comfortable contemporary setting underscored by plenty of tabletops, comfy armchairs next to the crackling fireplace, and the tantalizing aroma of java that’s been carefully roasted in-house. Concerning the latter, Grounds for Celebration ships small amounts of green beans from its own farm near Boquete, Panama each growing season, and considering they have on hand 23 varieties of coffee, we’re sure you’ll discover your own favorite bean.
Freedom Blend Coffee
Freedom Blend Coffee is a locally owned coffee shop that empowers young adults through work training and life skills that enable them to enter the workforce more confident and prepared for the challenges before them. Relax by the fireplace in the winter or soak up some sun on their patio while enjoying something from the broad coffee, breakfast, and lunch menu.
Plain Talk Books & Coffee
Across the street from the State Historical Building, Plain Talk has steadily become an East Village fixture and as an Optimae LifeServices small business, employs individuals with barriers to employment. Whether you’d like to peruse through row upon row of literary inspiration before settling into a well-manicured reading nook or enjoy a quick lunch amidst the whimsical charm of a used bookstore, this gem among Des Moines coffee shops has got what you’re looking for.
Twisted Bean Coffee Company
Located near Johnston, Twisted Bean has an open layout dappled with modern elements, an abundance of seating arrangements, and hints of greenery. The attention to detail that has gone into designing this central Iowa staple with a 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. 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!
Considering they operate two coffee shops in Des Moines, and many more throughout Iowa, you’ve probably already spotted a Caribou near you, some stores provide guests a reliable work and gathering space with tables to sit down at and stay awhile, while others are grab & go oriented. Along with mochas, lattes, and bubble teas, they’ve got toasted bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and baked treats.
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 Des Moines, check out our list of the Top 10 Coffee Shops in Ames, Iowa!
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 or Google account.