Coffeehouses in Iowa City

“Double-Venti-Carmel-Macchiato-to-go, at the counter!” Proclaimed a hard-working barista as a customer eagerly awaits her morning cup of coffee.

 With the cold weather and start of a new semester, students look to find a place to warm up, enjoy some good conversation with friends, or just a quiet place to study.

Local coffeehouses are common around this small town, a mecca of character and artistic insight. Some popular locations many locals would agree are ‘crème-de-la-crème,’ include Java House, T-Spoons, Capanna, Starbucks, and Molly’s Cupcakes. Each has distinguishing characteristics to sets it apart from an ordinary coffeehouse or café. 

With a character quite unlike any other, this restaurant, placed in a historic building, Java House, creates an inviting ambiance for one to sit by the window and enjoy a freshly baked pastry while reading the paper.

Imagine perfectly mixed peanut butter mocha, peppermint mocha, or raspberry truffle mocha. Those are just a few of the delicious specialty drinks served. Tea, other seasonal drinks, and smoothies are also included. A display case is placed next to the counter where customers can take drink orders. Within that case are all kinds of treats to satisfy any sweet tooth. Sharing the large restaurant space is Heirloom Salad Company, with healthy, made-to-order food. Mainly salads, sandwiches, pasta bowls, and soups of any kind are on the menu. This cozy little café has antique chairs, tables, and sofas placed in studying nooks or quite corners with electric outlets at each spot to allow for laptop usage. Not only can you sit and enjoy your morning ‘cup of Joe’ but you can also admire the various live bands or poetry readings, a regular occurrence at this location.

 T-Spoons is a trendy hangout for those living on the north side of town. Not only is coffee their specialty. Similar to Java House, this restaurant has many kinds of various flavors of tea to choose from. Black tea, green, white, whatever your preference is, T-spoons is likely to have it.

Capanna located downtown, in the midst of colorful benches, also serves gelato. Despite the cold temperatures, gelato is a popular request from locals. With flavors ranging from cookies and cream to lemon and strawberry, how can you stay away?

If your sweet tooth is not pulsing yet, look to the left of the display case and you will find chocolate chip cookies the size of a small plate. Not just any ordinary cookie, a melt-in-your-mouth-ultimately-satisfying-kind of cookie.

As if you haven’t had enough sweets, Molly’s Cupcakes is a new addition to the downtown area of coffee shops. Originating out of Chicago, this local treat was founded by John Nicolaides. The name of the bakery/coffee shop is derived from his third grade teacher, Miss Molly, who made cupcakes for the students when there was a birthday. 

Depending on what season it is, various flavors of cupcakes come and go. Local favorites are the Cookie Dough, German Chocolate, and the Boston Crème cupcakes. Inside each are different kinds of filling accentuating the taste of the cupcake as a whole. A seating area with not only chairs but also swings can be found hanging from the ceiling at the counter near the register. The lively baristas/ bakers are just waiting to give you a cupcake and put a smile on your face.

Locations such as those listed, plus more around town, add a shared appreciation for local vendors. You will just have to walk around till you find one to ‘suit your fancy.’

Java House

•1575 S. 1st Ave.

•713 Mormon Trek Blvd

•Downtown location: 211 Washington St.


•Heriloom Salad Company:


-Found in the Old Capitol Mall, 201 S. Clinton St.

-301 E. Market St.


Molly’s Cupcakes:

•14 S. Clinton St.



•136 S. Dubuque St.




•228 S. Clinton St.