One of my favorite requests I get is from folks traveling to Indy asking, “Hey! I’m coming to Indy, but I’m only going to be in town for 48 hours. Where should I get coffee?”
That request also comes in a lot for locals who have friends and family visiting from out of town, and sometimes it is just from folks looking for something fun to do on the weekend. It gets asked a lot of different ways, and I love it every time.
Start Your (Electric) Engines
Confession: I have given this advice a lot, but I have never actually taken it myself—tackling as many coffee shops as I can in 48 hours. So I put the idea out into the universe, and our cool friends at Motor offered me one of the Tesla Model 3s from their electric car fleet to drive around for the weekend. More on them (plus a promo code) in a minute.
So with my coffee shop hop plan in hand and the Tesla app on my phone (that’s how I unlocked the car 🤯), I set out for a weekend of over-caffeinating myself in the name of Science™️.
- Coat Check Coffee
- Commissary Barber & Barista
- Amberson Coffee + Grocer
- Garden Table
- Parlor Public House
- Leviathan Bakehouse
- Quills (new)
Regardless of where you’re staying, Downtown Indy is the place to be and its got some of the best coffee in the city, so I always suggest people start their coffee adventures downtown.
Your Morning Coffee Downtown Indianapolis
There are so many amazing coffee shops downtown Indianapolis, and I can recommend any of them for a variety of reasons. This list is in no way exhaustive, but here’s where I normally send folks (including a few non-coffee places).
One of Indy’s Best: Coat Check Coffee
Now in its 5th year of business, Coat Check Coffee is a downtown institution that has garnered national media attention over the years, and it deserves all of the pomp & circumstance. Located in the historic Athenaeum on Mass Ave, Coat Check’s prime location is easy for anyone to get to, and the menu has something for everyone. Can you go to Coat Check without getting a butterscotch latte and a buttery, flaky croissant? Or a pistachio latte and one of their other delectable treats from Landlocked Baking Co.? Any of their coffee drinks made with local Certain Feelings beans is guaranteed to warmly welcome anyone to Circle City.
The Hidden Gem: Commissary Barber & Barista
For folks wanting something a little more laid back, Commissary Barber & Barista is also a favorite. Tucked away in its own subterranean oasis at the corner of New York and Alabama (and conveniently on the Cultural Trail), Commissary is an entire vibe that serves incomparable Tinker Coffee in some of the city’s most inventive drinks (looking at you, Pineapple Ube latte).
The Peak of Specialty Coffee: Amberson Coffee + Grocer
Do you know the difference between a cortado and a cappuccino? Does the phrase “anaerobic proceesed” entice your taste buds? When folks ask me where to find the epitome of specialty coffee in Indianapolis, I point them to Amberson Coffee + Grocer in Fletcher Place. Owner Hugo Cano and his team offer the most consistent and truest specialty coffee experience in the city. They source the best coffees from around the world and dial them all in to perfection.
Saturday Brunch + Coffee
For visitors wanting to grab brunch and a nice cup of local coffee, there are a few quick choices that any local can recommend to you.
Brunch on Mass Ave: The Garden Table
I mean, does brunch downtown Indy get much better than The Garden Table? Not only do they serve amazing coffee, their super fresh brunch menu is an all-time favorite. I don’t particularly care how long I have to wait for a slice of their quiche or their hash (because I’m normally drinking some of their coffee while I wait). Oh, and you can’t skip their cold-pressed juices. My husband’s favorite is the Lush Love: fresh watermelon juice with a touch of basil.
The Foodie’s Brunch: Milktooth
In 2018, my foodie friend from Seattle came to town for my wedding (hey, Lauren!), and Milktooth was at the top of her list. She still talks about their duck egg grilled cheese. Milktooth, to the surprise of many, has a coffee bar that serves up some of the best coffee in the city. They were one of the first cafés in Indy to have a Modbar, and if that sentence makes sense to you, then you know that’s a big deal. While you can enjoy a fine latte with your brunch, you can also drop into the coffee bar for a bevvie to go.
Oh, you thought coffee shops were only good for early morning coffee? Not in Indy. Hybrid coffee shops have been on the rise the last few years, and Indy has seen several note-worthy café-bar hybrids hit the scene.
Vibes on Mass Ave: Crema / Almost Famous
You can ask Siri, Alexa, or the Google voice assistant (whatever their name is) where to go out in Indianapolis on a Saturday night, and they will all respond with the same answer: Mass Ave.
One of Mass Ave.’s newest hot spots is Almost Famous, a swanky bar toward the northern end of the strip. While the bar offers high-end cocktails at night, they offer a great coffee experience during the day under the café name, Crema. It’s a unique Indy space that offers a unique Indy experience, regardless of what time of day. Plus, is there ever a bad time for an espresso martini?
Setting the mood at Parlor Public House
Another café-cocktail hybrid worth the visit is Parlor Public House in downtown Indianapolis. Since it opened in 2021, Parlor has been an awe-inspiring standout amongst downtown coffee shops. Their coffee is great, for sure, but their vibes are unmatched. The space is set up with traditional café tables, and in addition, they provide what they call ‘living rooms,’ which are 7-8 different areas that are defined by comfortable couches and chairs in relaxing living-room-inspired configurations.
Every evening, the lights are dimmed, the music switches, and a sea of candles are lit. The vibe dramatically (and romantically) shifts as the menu changes from delicious coffee to high-end cocktails. It’s a must-see spot for coffee and nightlife connoisseurs.
The Best Sunday Breakfasts + Coffee
The only way to spend a Sunday morning is to wake up with no alarm and lazily make your way to a local coffee shop for coffee and a bangin’ breakfast. This is not a rule that I made—it is simply the law of the land.
The name should be enough to convince you to go, but just in case it isn’t: Leviathan Bakehouse is one of the best coffee + breakfast spots in the city. Ever since we discovered the breakfast sandwich (ham, bacon, Gruyère, salsa verde, and herb egg on a BUTTERY CROISSANT), Leviathan has been our church. Sometimes we’re there as the sun is rising, and sometimes we aren’t rolling in until 9. You can’t beat the food menu, coffee (local favorite Blue Mind), or the pastry cases full of delectable pastries and sweets whenever you roll in.
It’s hard to bring up breakfast in Indianapolis without someone mentioning Patachou. This Indy-based restaurant has several locations throughout the city, and one of my favorites is their downtown location at the corner of Capitol and Washington. While it’s not a coffee shop, they’ve long been revered for their coffee program, which features local roaster Hubbard & Cravens. The omelettes are unbelievable, but we always give in to our cravings for the broken yolk sandwiches.
The Sunday afternoon pick-me-up at the new Quills Coffee
Louisville-based Quills Coffee re-opened its Indy location in a brand new space at 9th & Meridian in August 2022. Quills was one of the pioneers of specialty coffee in Indianapolis, and they continue to do some of the best coffee in the city. They open earlier than most cafés on Sundays, and it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday afternoon pick-me-up.
Exploring Fountain Square and Bovaconti
Fountain Square is also a great offshoot of downtown that draws lots of visitors in with its ample eateries, drinkeries, and local art. It is also host to Bovaconti, another Indy-favorite coffee house. Its got all the aesthetics of an Instagrammer’s dreams plus a coffee menu that has something for everyone. I am never not craving a Tiger Eye, which is their twist on a dirty chai latte, and I always love posing for a photo with the beautiful mural outside (or the pink flamingo wallpaper, if you can find it).
Getting everywhere in a Tesla
This was just a glimpse of how we spend our typical weekends here in Indianapolis, except this one was special because we got to drive around in a Tesla courtesy of our friends at Motor.
Motor is a local electric car subscription service that offers a full range of electric vehicles through a monthly subscription. Literally, everything is included in your subscription—insurance, registration, maintenance, etc.—so you pay one price to drive a brand new, high-end EV like a Tesla Model 3 or a Mustang Mach-E. You don’t even have to sign a contract, so you can rent for one month or forever.
When I’m not taking pictures of the coffee I’m drinking, I actually work full-time for a tech company here in the city. Working in tech has given me a true love for innovation, and that’s exactly what Motor is doing by giving everyone an opportunity to get behind the wheel of an electric car without the astronomical price tag. When they reached out and asked if I wanted to drive one of their cars for the weekend, I obviously couldn’t turn it down.
This is not a paid promotion or an affiliate deal, I just really think what Motor is doing is super cool. To learn more, download the Motor Drive app in your App Store (Apple | Google Play), and when you’re ready to give Motor a spin, you can use the code ‘INDYCOFFEE’ when you sign up to waive the activation fee (a little $400 gift from me to you).
Coffee shop hopping in Indy
Coffee shop hopping is one of my all-time favorite activities—where you make a list of local coffee shops you want to visit within a certain timeframe, and you make it happen. (I mean, that’s kinda how this whole Indianapolis Coffee Guide started).
Hopefully, this guide helps you explore our awesome city like a local while experiencing some of the best coffee & food Indy has to offer.