Who doesn't love a good latte and a quirky independent coffee shop atmosphere? Because as parents, especially with young kids, sometimes we just need to get out of the house for a little while and head to a non-grocery-store destination. Preferably a peaceful place where I can sit and read for a little while to restore my sanity, a place where the noise level is a relatively constant hum, with no piercingly loud, high-pitched outbursts and no little people climbing on me (yes I'm clearly an introvert -- I need space to periodically recharge).
Here are 12 places where you can do just that -- recharge, relax, relish the cooler weather that's coming, sip a hot drink, read a book or meet up with a friend. You might already have a favorite on this list, or only have heard of a few of these and never visited. Here are all the details together for you in one list, so wherever you are in the city, you always know where to get a cup of coffee--and thereby support neighbors and local family-owned businesses (nothing against Starbucks, but you know what I mean).
1. Coat Check Coffee (Mass Ave area)
This has been my new favorite place for the past year. This family-owned coffee shop is located in the former coat check and lobby of the historic Athenaeum building, which has recently undergone a facelift and feels modern and colorful. The lattes are absolutely delicious, with Tinker Coffee, high-quality farm-fresh organic milk and perfect flavors (try the ginger latte with hibiscus powder and a bit of citrus!). The pastry wizards at Coat Check also bake fresh croissants in-house daily (making the whole building smell amazing), and on weekends serve up their own gourmet French macarons (such as blueberry-lavender-lemon curd and cinnamon-vanilla-maple rum). It's a great atmosphere for getting some work done, or holding a business meeting, or meeting up with a friend while both your kids are in the YMCA Play & Learn Center down the hall. It's kid-friendly too, with wooden blocks, Magna-Tiles, and colored chalk to amuse the little ones while you drink your coffee.
2. Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company (Fletcher Place)
This coffee shop has been around for eight years and is located in Fletcher Place in a building next door to Bluebeard, the neighborhood's award-winning restaurant. Calvin Fletcher's emphasizes that its coffee is organic and fair trade, and all profits are donated to charitable organizations. They do their own in-house roasting, with beans purchased directly from growers. They also sell pastries from Circle City Sweets (including the best cherry almond streusel bars). The location is right on the Cultural Trail, and it's roomy inside, ideal for meetings or group gatherings.
3. Coal Yard Coffee (Irvington)
This coffee shop is part of an art gallery which is housed in a former industrial garage on a small side street in Irvington. The atmosphere is comfortably eclectic with a bit of a grunge vibe and lots of artwork everywhere. There is often live music on weekend evenings. Coal Yard Coffee serves Hubbard & Cravens coffee and tea.
4. Foundry Provisions (Herron-Morton Place)
Foundry Provisions is located at the corner of 16th & Alabama, specializing in breakfast and lunch in addition to coffee and tea (from Julian Coffee Roasters and Tea's Me). Its panini sandwiches have historic Hoosier names (i.e. the Kurt V. and the Tarkington) and source meat from Smoking Goose Meatery. Foundry also offers pastries and soups (from Circle City Sweets and Soups), Shapiro's bagels, Nicey Treat pops, and on occasion, Long's doughnuts. The style of this place is industrial chic and the atmosphere is family-friendly. It's a great neighborhood hangout and welcomes students from Herron High School, which is two blocks away.
5. Kaffeine (Mass Ave area)
This third-wave coffee shop opened in fall 2016, after eight years with a food-truck-style business model, and specializes in high-grade single origin coffee from around the globe. Kaffeine is located in part of an old industrial warehouse behind the Circa apartments, a couple blocks away from College & Mass Ave. Occasionally there are a few pastries, but the emphasis is really on the specialty coffee here. Try the Vietnamese coffee!
6. Henry's Coffee Bistro (Chatham Arch)
Henry's on East, a longtime mainstay in the Chatham Arch neighborhood near Mass Ave, changed its name to Henry's Coffee Bistro and has been under new management for the past couple years. It's still the same quiet coffee shop atmosphere, a good place to work or study, or to grab coffee and a bite to eat. Henry's serves breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on weekends; good sandwiches, salads, quiche, pastries and desserts. Henry's is also adjacent to the Cultural Trail and there are several nice tables outside in front of the shop.
7. Lincoln Lane Coffee (Bates-Hendricks)
Lincoln Lane Coffee Co. opened in November 2016 inside the Lincoln Community Center on South East Street in Bates-Hendricks neighborhood. It offers locally roasted organic coffee and all profits go back into programming for the community center. Parents, this is a place you can easily bring your kids with you because of the large multipurpose space adjacent to the coffee counter... just sip your latte and let them run around a bit, or play with the toys!
8. Bee Coffee Roasters (Downtown, Wholesale District)
Located in the Pan American Plaza building on Georgia Street across from the Convention Center, this tiny shop doesn't have much seating, but it does have amazing coffee and other caffeinated creations. Bee Coffee is house brewed and roasted, and my husband (who is very particular about his coffee) declares it is the best local coffee he's tasted. Try the honey lavender cappuccino! They also offer pastries from Circle City Sweets and truffles from Best Chocolate in Town.
9. Thirsty Scholar (Old Northside)
A personal favorite on this list, Thirsty Scholar opened two years ago and has much to recommend it: the charming interior aesthetic, with marble & wrought-iron tables, vintage-style chairs and lamps, a diamond-pattern floor, and the high ceilings of the beautiful historic Penn Arts building at 16th & Pennsylvania. The ambience is very relaxed and unhurried, a contrast to the busy intersection outside the windows. Coffeehouse by day and wine bar by night, Thirsty Scholar is open past midnight on weekends. They serve Intelligentsia coffee, wine and local craft beer. In addition to drinks, they also offer bagels, muffins, desserts, appetizers, sandwiches, etc. They occasionally have live music on weekends. I love the vintage feel of this place and am so glad it's in my neighborhood.
10. Rabble (St. Clair Place)
Rabble Coffee is located on East 10th Street, in the space formerly occupied by Tin Comet. The space is now brighter and cleaner, the service friendlier, and they serve Tinker Coffee with their own special house blend. Rabble is located just down the street from the near east side community center, on a stretch of East 10th Street near the historically grand Woodruff Place neighborhood.
11. Quills Coffee (Canal District)
Located on the canal on west 9th Street, Quills is part of a small regional chain based in Kentucky. The interior is modern and upscale, and it offers a range of coffee, espresso drinks, fair trade chocolate bars and other snacks.
12. Neidhammer Coffee
This near-Eastside coffee shop shares space with Ash & Elm Cider Co. in the historic Neidhammer building (also available for events and co-working space) on East Washington Street. Neidhammer Coffee's interior is beautifully restored with lots of exposed brick, industrial chic fixtures and local art on the walls. Make sure to try the iced lavender latte!
Well, now that you have the vital details on Indy's independent coffee shops gathered in one list, you'll be excited for the cold weather coming soon, right? Okay, maybe not. Any other favorite local coffeehouses you would recommend? Please add to the list in the comments below.