Top 10 Best Coffee Shops In Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa, nestled along the banks of the Iowa River, is not only known for its vibrant literary scene, but it’s also a hub for coffee enthusiasts. With its bustling streets and diverse community, Iowa City offers a plethora of coffee shops, each with its own unique ambiance and flavor profiles. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the rich coffee culture of Iowa City, exploring the top 10 coffee shops, delving into the historical overview, discussing diversity, the role of coffee shops in the community, and etiquette for patrons.

Top 10 Coffee Shops In Iowa City, Iowa

  1. The Java House: Established in 1994, The Java House is a cornerstone of Iowa City’s coffee scene. Known for its cozy atmosphere and quality brews, it offers a wide range of coffee options, from classic drip to specialty espresso drinks.

  2. High Ground Café: This quaint café is a favorite among locals for its ethically sourced beans and artisanal pastries. With its minimalist decor and friendly staff, High Ground Café provides a welcoming space to savor a cup of joe.

  3. T.Spoons: T.Spoons is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of downtown Iowa City. Boasting a rotating selection of single-origin coffees and innovative brewing methods, it’s a must-visit for coffee connoisseurs.

  4. Café Muse: More than just a coffee shop, Café Muse is a cultural hub where art, music, and coffee converge. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cappuccino or a seasonal specialty drink, you’ll find it here.

  5. Press Coffee Company: As the name suggests, Press Coffee Company takes pride in its meticulously crafted brews. Using a combination of traditional and modern techniques, they deliver a consistently excellent cup of coffee.

  6. Café del Sol: Nestled in Iowa City’s Northside neighborhood, Café del Sol offers a laid-back atmosphere and a menu inspired by Latin American flavors. From their signature cortado to their homemade empanadas, everything is made with care and attention to detail.

  7. Bluebird Diner: While primarily known for its comfort food, Bluebird Diner also serves up a mean cup of coffee. Locally roasted beans and friendly service make it a popular spot for both breakfast and brunch.

  8. Wake Up Iowa: If you’re in need of a caffeine fix on the go, look no further than Wake Up Iowa. Conveniently located near the University of Iowa campus, this bustling café specializes in quick and delicious coffee drinks.

  9. Café Fika: With its Scandinavian-inspired decor and emphasis on community, Café Fika offers a refreshing take on the traditional coffee shop experience. Whether you’re meeting friends for a chat or diving into a good book, you’ll feel right at home here.

  10. Dash Coffee Roasters: Last but not least, Dash Coffee Roasters is a must-visit for coffee aficionados seeking the perfect roast. With a focus on sustainability and quality, they source their beans from around the world and roast them in-house to perfection.

Historical Overview

The history of coffee in Iowa City dates back to the mid-19th century when European settlers first began to establish themselves in the area. While coffee consumption was initially limited to the elite, it quickly gained popularity among all segments of society.

In the early 20th century, coffeehouses began to emerge as social gathering places where people could come together to discuss politics, literature, and the arts. These establishments played a crucial role in shaping the cultural landscape of Iowa City, fostering creativity and intellectual exchange.

During the latter half of the 20th century, coffee culture in Iowa City underwent a renaissance, fueled in part by the rise of the counterculture movement and the popularity of espresso-based drinks. Today, coffee shops are an integral part of the city’s identity, serving as meeting places for students, professionals, and artists alike.


One of the defining features of Iowa City’s coffee scene is its diversity. From cozy neighborhood cafes to trendy roasteries, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Moreover, many coffee shops in Iowa City pride themselves on their commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility, sourcing their beans from fair trade farms and offering employment opportunities to marginalized communities.

This diversity is not only reflected in the variety of coffee options available but also in the range of cultural influences present in Iowa City’s coffee culture. Whether you’re craving a classic Italian espresso or a refreshing Ethiopian pour-over, you’ll find it here.


Coffee shops play a multifaceted role in the community, serving as more than just places to grab a cup of coffee. They are gathering spots where friends can catch up over lattes, students can study for exams, and artists can showcase their work. Coffee shops also serve as venues for live music, poetry readings, and other cultural events, enriching the cultural fabric of Iowa City.

Moreover, coffee shops contribute to the local economy by providing jobs and supporting local suppliers and artisans. By prioritizing sustainability and ethical sourcing practices, many coffee shops in Iowa City are also doing their part to protect the environment and support coffee-growing communities around the world.

Coffee Shop Etiquette

While coffee shops are generally laid-back environments, there are a few etiquette guidelines that patrons should keep in mind to ensure a positive experience for everyone:

  1. Respect other patrons: Keep noise levels to a minimum and be mindful of personal space, especially during busy times.

  2. Support local businesses: Whenever possible, opt for locally owned coffee shops over chain establishments to support the local economy.

  3. Clean up after yourself: Dispose of trash properly and wipe down tables after use to keep the space clean for others.

  4. Be patient: If the café is busy, be prepared to wait in line and wait for your order. Avoid hovering around the counter or rushing the staff.

  5. Tip generously: If you receive good service, consider leaving a tip to show your appreciation for the hard work of the baristas.


In conclusion, coffee shops play a vital role in the cultural, social, and economic life of Iowa City, Iowa. From the historic Java House to the innovative Dash Coffee Roasters, each café offers its own unique blend of flavors and experiences. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or simply looking for a cozy place to relax, you’re sure to find something to love in Iowa City’s vibrant coffee scene. So grab a cup of joe and join the community of coffee lovers who call Iowa City home.