So as my husband rightly pointed out, I am not super qualified to make a list of best local coffee shops because I'm not actually a coffee drinker. However, I do love a good chai latte and a quirky independent coffee shop atmosphere. Because as a mom, especially with young kids, sometimes I just need to get out of the house for a little while and go somewhere else besides the grocery store. 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 and time to recharge, both of which are rare and precious commodities in this phase of life).
Here are eleven places where you can do just that -- recharge, relax, escape the Indiana winter weather that's coming, sip a hot drink, read a book or meet up with a friend. You might have a favorite on this list or have heard of a few of the others, but never visited or known where they are. 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 (or chai) if you want an alternative to Starbucks.
1. 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. The staff is passionate and knowledgeable about coffee. 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. I enjoyed my chai latte there, but decided that next time I visit I will branch out and try the honey lavender cappuccino. They also sell pastries from Circle City Sweets and truffles from Best Chocolate in Town.
2. Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company (Fletcher Place)
This coffee shop has been around for several years and is located in Fletcher Place in a building next door to Bluebeard, the neighborhood's award-winning restaurant. Calvin Fletcher's stresses the fact that its coffee is organic and fair trade, and profits are donated to charitable organizations. They also sell pastries from Circle City Sweets (including my favorite cherry almond streusel bars). The location is fantastic, right on the Cultural Trail. It also has plenty of space inside, which makes it 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 and the spaces are well-lit, with a foosball table in the back room and lots of artwork everywhere. There is often live music on weekend evenings. Coal Yard Coffee serves Hubbard & Cravens coffee and tea. Irvington has been in need of a place like this since Lazy Daze closed its doors.
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 very cool place opened in fall 2016 and specializes in single origin coffee from unique places 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 focus is really on the coffee here.
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 year or so. 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!
8. Monon Coffee Company (Fall Creek Place)
The Monon Coffee Company started out 18 years ago with its original shop on the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple. It opened a second location in 2010 at the corner of 25th Street and Central Avenue in Fall Creek Place, a few blocks west of the Monon. In addition to coffee, Monon Coffee Co. offers teas and specialty drinks like the "white zombie" (which apparently utilizes a white espresso bean, whatever that means), as well as pastries and baked goods, including vegan and gluten-free selections.
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. Besides drinks, they also have bagels, muffins, desserts, appetizers, sandwiches, etc. They occasionally have live music on weekends. I love this place and am so glad it's in my neighborhood.
10. Rabble (St. Clair Place)
Rabble Coffee opened recently in the space formerly occupied by Tin Comet, on East 10th Street. It's rumored that the space is now a bit brighter and cleaner, the service friendlier, and the coffee better (from Bee Coffee Roasters). 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)
This coffee shop is a new addition since I first published this list a year ago. Located on the canal on west 9th Street, Quills is part of a small Midwestern chain based in Kentucky. The interior is hip and upscale, the customers are youthful (not surprising, since it's located in an apartment complex near the IUPUI campus) and it offers a range of coffee, espresso drinks, pastries, fair trade chocolate bars and other snacks.
Well, now that you have the vital details on Indy's independent coffee shops gathered in one list, you'll be ready/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.