Exploring The Coffee Community Of Indianapolis, Indiana

8 min read JAN 26, 2023

Less than a thirty minute drive from Lifeboost Coffee Headquarters is the vibrant city of Indianapolis, capital of the great Hoosier state.

A central hub of what residents know as Hoosier Hospitality in the Crossroads Of America, when visiting Indianapolis, you’ll never lack for fun and exciting experiences.

Sports fans will recognize the city as the home of the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Pacers, and of course the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the world’s largest sports seating facility and home of the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500.

Fun family experiences can also be had at one of America’s top ranked museums, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the largest children’s museum in the world.

Even the bar scene in Indianapolis is renowned, with the city’s oldest bar, The Slippery Noodle, being a rich source of Hoosier history. Undergoing multiple name changes to avoid stigma during war times and throughout the prohibition, it was originally a roadhouse, at one time a way station in the Civil War for the Underground Railroad, and now the midwest’s premiere blues club.

But, while we love hearing these fun facts and claims to fame, what inquiring minds really want to know is…how does Indianapolis take their coffee?

If you’re really looking for connection and community in Indianapolis, pulling up a chair at a neighborhood coffee shop is a locally favorite way to do just that!

So then, what kind of exciting things will we find when we dig into Indy’s bean scene?

And, what’s the buzz surrounding popular Indianapolis brew spots, places to connect through the city's favorite ways to sip and savor truly great coffee?

There’s a Coffee Shop for That

Connection is one of the most valuable aspects of life. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most amazing traits of coffee.

And, this brew’s ability to bring folks together is something the city of Indianapolis takes pride in.

The Indianapolis Coffee Guide is a website dedicated to exploring the city’s coffee scene of shops and roasters. It exists solely to highlight the top coffee shops in Indianapolis where you can enjoy a delicious cup of joe on your way to work, while catching up with a friend, as you complete your next big work project, or simply hang out to enjoy some quality me-time and maybe meet a new best friend.

And, one glance at their site will prove there’s no shortage of places to come together over coffee in Indy!

Just how popular (and exceptional) are coffee shops in indianapolis?

Yelp’s 2022 list of the top 100 coffee shops in the country includes four Indianapolis locations!

So, we’d like to introduce the Indy coffee scene through these local favorites.

The highest ranked of the 4 Indianapolis Yelp-loved coffee shops is Coat Check Coffee.

Located in the grand foyer of the Athenaeum Theater, Coat Check Coffee draws crowds of coffee lovers through its unique environment, surrounding patrons with the original, breathtaking architecture of the theater.

A visit to Coat Check Coffee means you’ll enjoy the great coffee staples of Indianapolis, as the shop features the city’s own Certain Feelings Coffee and Dandy Breeze milk.

Certain Feelings Coffee Roasters is located right in Indy, off of Carrollton Ave. And, Dandy Breeze milk is a single-family grass-fed jersey milk company located up the road in Westfield, IN.

Indianapolis locals specifically enjoy the latte selection at Coat Check, describing their favorite, unique flavor offerings like butterscotch, spiced demerara, ginger, pistachio, and chocolate as “interesting, amazing, and perfectly balanced.”

The next coffeehouse on Yelp’s national coffee shop favorites list is found on 38th Street, MOTW Coffee & Pastries.

MOTW stands for Muslims of the World. And, the coffee shop describes itself as a place to celebrate coffee and community, stating “we have our doors open wide for everyone.”

With a clean, modern look and plenty of seating space, MOTW Coffee & Pastries is described by locals as a great place to meet, study, work, or just spend some time alone.

Each morning French pastry chefs come to the shop to hand make decadent French and Arabic pastries. The coffee, they source it locally from Tinker Coffee Company, an Indianapolis resident favorite.

Their newest winter latte offering features a house made cardamom syrup as well as a date syrup. Yum!

The Yelp list of coffee shop favorites includes Georgia Street Grind as well, located right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Georgia Street Grind is a small coffee shop making a huge impact on patrons, serving brews primarily to-go, specializing in cups of freshly brewed single origin coffee from local roasters.

A fan favorite here is the Spanish latte. Traditionally this type of latte contains espresso, sweetened condensed milk, and additional toppings. And, at this Indianapolis coffee shop, they serve this delicious, small, and super tasty treat with a dash of cinnamon.

Mmmmm, bold espresso, creamy and sweet condensed milk, with a dash of spicy cinnamon, what’s not to love?

Other unique offerings at Georgia Street Grind include Arcane cold brew, made with coffee from Arcane Coffee Micro Roasters in central Indiana, an assortment of blended coffee sweet treats, and classic espresso drinks from around the world including the cafe miel originating in Spain.

And lastly, located along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail in Fletcher Place, a historic neighborhood in the southeast corner of downtown Indy, is Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company.

Roasting their coffee in-house, Calvin Fletcher’s appeals to Indy’s diverse palate, featuring coffees from all over the world. And, they fulfill the Hoosier Hospitality mindset in their mission to spread kindness through coffee.

CF Coffee Company states “Coffee is a beautiful thing; so simple and complex, so delicious. But coffee is made beautiful by the people that make it possible.” Calvin Fletcher’s seeks to honor the individuals that make their coffee possible, from farmers to baristas, and their customers.

And, I think I’m seeing a trend emerging here, with Indianapolis locals seeming to prefer spice in their brew, loving uniquely spiced lattes at Coat Check Coffee, cardamom syrup in their lattes from MOTW Coffee & Pastries, some added cinnamon to their favorite Spanish latte at Georgia Street Grind, and here (at CF Coffee Company) raving over the Calvin Pepper, a traditional cappuccino with honey and cayenne pepper!  

History and Hidden Gems in Indy’s Coffee Scene

We’ve discussed the popular coffee spots and some of the preferred brews of Indianapolis residents, but coffee almost always comes with a side of history.

So, now we’d like to share with you a few gems we found when we turned back the pages of time, looking at where history and coffee collide in Indianapolis.

One coffee shop we already mentioned, Coat Check Coffee, isn’t just a popular stop for unique lattes.

This shop has often been deemed Instagrammable by locals due to its ambiance and architecture.

These features aren’t necessarily specific to the coffee shop though.

Coat Check Coffee is uniquely located in the Athenaeum, one of Indianapolis’s most iconic historical treasures. 

This historically preserved theater has showcased performing arts and musical guests, houses a Biergarten and German dining experience, and of course, is home to this celebrated coffee shop, a hidden gem in a historical place indeed!

The Athenaeum prides itself on being a space for innovative creators and visionaries, those looking to make Indianapolis a better place to live, work, and play. And, frankly, we think that’s a perfect place for a coffee shop…as do the locals.

And, while this is more of a hidden gem than a piece of history, another unique and strong coffee presence in Indianapolis is the Tinker Coffee Company.

Tinker Coffee is a locally owned specialty coffee roaster that specializes in roasting high-quality single-origin coffees.

While the company roasts and ships coffee across the country, and though many local coffee shops use Tinker Coffee, their cafe is a unique gem available for those traveling in and out of Indianapolis via plane.

A local favorite in their capacity as roasters since 2014, Tinker Coffee finally opened a cafe in the Indianapolis International Airport in March of 2021, providing travelers with the opportunity to connect with local favorites and flavors upon entering the city.

And lastly, while it is no longer in existence, the company building having been demolished in 1990, we wouldn’t be doing Indianapolis justice in regards to coffee without giving a hat tip to a company that may have been responsible for this city’s love for java to this day.

Prior to the railroad running through Indianapolis, the city was said to have been somewhat of a ghost town. But, after its arrival, businessmen and entrepreneurs like Henry Schnull took the town to new levels.

Schnull is said to be one of the greatest leaders of Indianapolis commerce.

And, though his company dominated the space of wholesale grocery trade as far back as the mid 1800s, dating back to 1938, Indianapolis residents will recall the Schnull & Company warehouse by its distinct java-inspired painted sign on the side of the building: Phoenix Vacuum Packed Coffee.

Of course, coffee has come a long way since Schnull and his team pioneered vacuum packed coffee as early as 1922 for Hoosier residents, but we still love to find traces of coffee all throughout the history of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Prefers…

From our time exploring the coffee scene in Indy, we’ve seen a few common themes:

1. Indianapolis Supports Local Endeavors

The people of Indianapolis love coffee, and they love people, especially taking pride in the accomplishments of their own residents, right here in the Hoosier state.

The residents of Indy who frequent the coffee shops we looked at today, love the opportunity to celebrate and support local businesses: from milk farmers to single family coffee shop owners, skilled area pastry chefs, and coffee roasters.

2. Indy Loves To Experience The World Through Coffee

And, locals here love to experience the world through their coffee.

From choosing single origin coffees to try from all around the world to getting hooked on lattes that explore the globe through added spices like cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom, Indianapolis locals seem to be adventurous when it comes to enjoying a great cup of coffee.

3. Indy Loves A Side Of Connection And Community With Their Coffee

But, what we love most about the coffee community in Indianapolis is the fact that it’s truly a community.

Coffee has a way of bringing people together from all walks of life, and the Indianapolis brew community does it well, providing just what the residents of Indiana want, places to meet, smile, laugh, love, work, and enjoy one another around the inviting aromas and fabulous flavors of none other than…coffee!

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Grata Medium Roast.


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