This article first appeared in the second issue of Batch Magazine, which is available to order on BatchMag.com. It was written by Amanda Gibson (@uhmandatodd), and the photography is by Corey Smith (@coreycaptures). Since publishing, we have added a few paragraphs as new coffee shops have opened along the Cultural Trail.

When I moved to Indianapolis with my family in 2019 from Florida, one of the first things I noticed was that I wasn’t immediately sweating from walking outside. I was actually able to enjoy the outdoors, and I was amazed at all the ways our city and state provided opportunities to better experience, well… just being outside. One way of getting around the city that I noticed and immediately used was the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

The 8-mile urban trail, actually named Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick, was introduced to the public in 2013 after 12 years of planning, six years of construction, and $63 million in funding. The trail goes through seven historically significant neighborhoods that are distinctive to the city’s story: Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Market East, Massachusetts Avenue, Canal and White River State Park, and the Wholesale District. In 2014, the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program was released, allowing users to see even more of the trail. There are over 25 bike-share stations where you can access a bike through their app or on the station’s kiosk and ride it anywhere you want!

There’s really no beginning or end to the trail, which allows riders, walkers, and runners the joy of hopping on and off the trail without concern about where to start or stop. While on the trail, you can enjoy public art, beautiful landscaping, downtown amenities, and, of course, a selection of amazing local coffee shops.

Photo of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail downtown Indianapolis in Fletcher Place.

Most may not know that the people who maintain the Cultural Trail are a group of generous supporters, volunteers, and staff behind a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc. Everything you see along the trail—from the lights, pavers, art, gardens, and even the free programming—are led by this incredible organization and Kären Haley, their executive director.

With Kären’s extensive knowledge of all things Cultural Trail, she still finds something new anytime she steps onto the trail because of how it connects the city. The Cultural Trail provides a sense of community because of this connection, just like the many local coffee shops along the trail.

Follow along the Cultural Trail and find ways to support their continued work by connecting with them on social media or on their website: indyculturaltrail.org.

Indianapolis coffee shops on The Cultural Trail

Amberson Coffee

Fletcher Place and Fountain Square

Bovaconti

Fountain Square

Calvin Fletcher's

Fletcher Place and Fountain Square

Coat Check Coffee

Downtown

Commissary

Downtown

Crema

Downtown

Hybrid

Georgia Street Grind

Downtown

Leviathan Bakehouse

Downtown

Hybrid

Nine Lives Cat Cafe

Fountain Square

Parlor Public House

Downtown

Hybrid

Please & Thank You

Downtown

New

PROVIDER

Downtown

Quills Coffee

Downtown

Tinker Coffee

Downtown and Riverside

Tinker Coffee

Downtown


A man walking down the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis
A man biking along the Cultural Trail downtown Indianapolis

Local Coffee Shop Highlights on The Cultural Trail

Of course, an actual list of all of the local coffee shops along the Cultural Trail is handy, but we’d be remiss not to tell you about what to expect at a few of our favorites!

Amberson Coffee & Grocer

Hop off the Cultural Trail for a quick block or two, and you’ll find Amberson Coffee + Grocer in Fletcher Place. Amberson opened at the height of the Pandemic in 2020 during the most uncertain times. They brought such a bright spot to such a dim time with their service, commitment to treating everyone with respect, passion for coffee, and passion for sustainability. They are a multi-roaster featuring coffee from around the world whose roasters share their same passion for coffee.

Georgia Street Grind

Before Bovaconti Coffee, the same people brought us Georgia Street Grind in 2016. It’s truly a mom-and-pop locals’ destination spot. They’re grinding locally roasted coffee in the Wholesale District. Whether you’re strolling downtown or in the middle of a busy work day, this is the place to grab a quick brew, whether it be a blend or one of their single-origin features. (For the record, Bovaconti is also along the Cultural Trail.) Georgia Street Grind is no longer owned by the folks at Bovaconti, but it is still locally owned and such a treasure to have in our community.

Parlor Public House

On the edge of the Market East neighborhood, you’ll find Parlor Public House. It’s a space that takes your breath away as soon as you step through their doors with their large, loft-style design and jungle indoor plants. It’s a spot you can literally spend all day in as their large neon sign says: “Coffee ‘til Cocktails.” You can spend your day drinking coffee, working, taking meetings, and when your coffee is gone, turn to their cocktail menu and relax a little longer.

Crema

Literally off the trail is Crema by day and Almost Famous by night. Crema has partnered with local roaster Tinker Coffee for a thoughtful menu with your classic coffee shop offerings and a seasonal menu! If you’re looking for the chillest of the chill spots to hang, Crema is the place to do your “work from home” work with a latte and brunch snack. Of course, it’s also perfect for grabbing any coffee they’re brewing to go and quickly stepping right back onto the Cultural Trail.

Commissary Barber & Barista

Commissary Barber & Barista is a full-service coffee bar AND barber off Mass Ave. They feature locally roasted coffee and brew them in a variety of different fashions. Famously known for the Pineapple Ube Latte, you can find a seasonal menu that continuously brings you back wanting to try whatever they’ve come up with next. A few steps underground, their shop is still filled with natural light, exposed brick, and greenery that invites you to stay awhile. (And yes, the barber is separated from the café by a brick wall and a door, so you won’t get any hair clippings in your coffee.)

Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company

Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company is another shop where, with a step outside their front door, you’ll find yourself standing on the Cultural Trail in the Fletcher Place neighborhood. It’s one thing to be on the trail enjoying it; it’s another to be people-watching from a local business off the trail and also enjoying the trail. Calvin Fletcher has been a part of the developing neighborhood since 2012 before the Cultural Trail was even finished! They’ve been roasting coffee even before their storefront opened. Serving up a mean menu, they also make sure that with each visit and purchase, they’re donating a portion of their profits to several local “small-but-mighty” charities through their in-house charity foundation.

Tinker Coffee on Market St

One of the newest additions to our list of local coffee shops along the Cultural Trail is Tinker Coffee on Market St! Located at the corner of Market & New Jersey Streets, this Tinker Coffee café took over an old Starbucks (we love to see it) on the ground floor of 360 Market—also conveniently next door to the downtown Whole Foods! We have always been huge Tinker Coffee fans, so the fact that their Market St café is along the Cultural Trail is just more than we could have ever dreamed. –Scott

Quills

Oh look! Another opportunity to talk about Quills Coffee downtown Indianapolis! One of the greatest things about the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is that it connects us to so many different places in the city. Sure, there are many great places on the actual trail, but if you look even a block further than the trail in any direction, your world gets SO MUCH BIGGER. That’s where Quills comes in!

One of my favorite sections of the Cultural Trail is the loop in front of the Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch on St. Clair. Just two short blocks north on Meridian is Quills Coffee. I love taking my bike for a jaunt on the trail, picking up my holds at the library, and then parking at Quills for a little while to relish in my coffee and literary spoils. -Scott

Amanda Gibson is a local food and coffee enthusiast! She’s spent the last decade working in the food and coffee industry and understands how important small local businesses are to a community. You can currently find her behind the social media accounts of some of your favorite restaurants and maybe even making doughnuts for Indy Dough. She’s also been a fan of the Indianapolis Coffee Guide since day 1, and we’re also huge Amanda Gibson fans.