The best part of waking up is java from a local coffee shop in your cup. There are dozens of spots around central Iowa to enjoy a great cup of joe, and while we couldn’t possibly touch on all of them here, we did compile a mini ‘best-of’ roundup of spots every coffee junkie should visit.
Perk Up: Central Iowa coffee guideOctober 11, 2011
Ritual Cafe is a staple spot for breakfast or lunch, with a close proximity to downtown, the library and Meredith. The coffee shop serves an all vegetarian menu, which shouldn’t discourage carnivores
Craving a cup of joe and the newest copy of “X-Men”?
Some people have had such fabulous first dates at Zanzibar’s that they’ve used the small coffee shop as a ceremony venue for their weddings
Mars Cafe is a hub of cultural activity in Drake’s Dogtown neighborhood, and also is considered by many to serve the best coffee in the city
Its location on Fourth Street lends itself to an eclectic crowd
Visit Smokey Row any time of day and the large coffee house will be full of people typing on laptops, their papers spread over the table
This caffeine pit stop is on the way to the Kaleidecope Hub restaurants and businesses, and right in the middle of the busy skywalk
What's in that drink?
If you're looking for latte art skills, Daniel's got 'em
She grew up on 'cowboy coffee' in Montana and works at a locally-owned shop
Works: Grounds for Celebration, 2709 Beaver Ave. How she got started: “I went to Kirkwood for restaurant management and always served at restaurants. Then I landed a gig at a coffee shop and realized I could flourish during the day. I’ve been working at Grounds for Celebration for 4½ years now, and I have more of a life working here.” What drew her to the job: “The freedom and fun you can have. It’s hard work, but it’s a great job.” What she drinks: “An iced triple espresso with almond milk. It’s one of the first things I do when I get in in the morning.” When she’s at home: “I usually drink my coffee at work, but if I’m home, I like flavored coffee, like our butterscotch toffee. I’m also a backpacker, and always bring a small coffee maker with me on the trail.” What she enjoys most about her job: “Chatting with regular customers. We also have the freedom to wear what we want to work, so I get to express my style a little here, too.” Favorite drink to make: “The most fun and always a challenge is an extra dry cappuccino. People who order it are usually hard-core coffee drinkers, so there’s extra pressure to get it right.” The difference between locally owned and a chain: “Sometimes when people are used to a chain, like Starbucks, they’ll order something on the menu and think it’s the same drink as what is served there. For example, at Starbucks, a macchiato is a big, sugary drink with lots of stuff in it, but here, it’s simple. It’s pretty easy to tell who’s a gas station cappuccino drinker and who’s a cafe drinker.” Grounds for Celebration perks: “We are super regular-heavy, so I see the same people every day. We have a drink card system so that people can get in and out super fast. They put a desired amount of money on a card, and we swipe it when they come in. People really like it because they don’t have to worry about bringing enough money.” Thanks a latte: “You would always tip a bartender, so it should be the same protocol at a coffee shop because we’re making you a drink, too. $1 is always nice, anything more is great. But change is always appreciated — you’d be surprised how much it adds up. Sometimes we have $15 in quarters alone.”
Four taste testers try four cups of black coffee -- two from local shops, one from a chain, and our newsroom coffee