DSM Brew Coffee Co.
300 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Suite 140; 515-259-3634
“Nitro coffee,” a cold-brewed elixir, is the specialty on tap at this inviting spot just south of downtown. As the name implies, nitro coffee packs a caffeine kick, hence the slogan: “Get Woke.” Housed in a 1908 building that was once home to a brewing company, the coffeehouse also offers espresso drinks and tea, plus gelato.
2814 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-282-9575
Also in Valley West Mall; 515-457-8464
All great food-loving cities have their luxury chocolate shop, and this is ours. The business, originating in 1913 in Holland (where five stores still exist), continues the Old World tradition of crafting fine Dutch-style bonbons in flavors such as Champagne, cognac cream, crème brûlée, Irish coffee and dozens of others. The ornate Ingersoll store also serves as a coffeehouse and gelateria.
Crème Cupcake and Dessert Lounge
543 28th St.; 515-288-1050
Next time your night out on the town is coming to a close but you’re not quite ready to go home, head here for a memorable top-off-the-evening experience. Find a rotating menu of confections such as peanut butter lava cake with spiced-berry jam, seasonal cheesecakes and flourless chocolate torte with almond mousse. All are designed to pair with cocktails, wine or specialty teas and coffees specifically chosen for each dessert.
Grounds for Celebration
5950 University Ave., West Des Moines (in the Iowa Clinic); 515-279-6812
6600 University Ave., Windsor Heights; 515-271-5022
2709 Beaver Ave., 515-255-4863
Owners George Rivera-Davis and Jan Davis take coffee so seriously that they’ve started to grow their own in Panama. Meanwhile, here in Des Moines, they roast and serve great coffee in expert espresso drinks. Also find a terrific selection of teas (Jan Davis is a certified tea blender) as well as sodas and frosties. Enjoy pastries at breakfast; for lunch, look for a limited but thoughtful menu that includes a handful of sandwiches, plus a soup, salad and quiche.
Horizon Line Coffee
1417 Walnut St.; 515-244-0059
Friends Brad Penna and Nam Ho learned the coffee business in Los Angeles before opening their first shop in Des Moines with a friendly crew. Bright and smartly industrial, the shop’s focus is high-quality, ethical and traceable coffees. Try the “coffee flight,” 12 total ounces of coffee from a single location brewed three ways: a double shot of espresso, cold brew and a pour-over. Horizon Line added a second location recently, in The Foundry in West Des Moines.
841 42nd St.; 515-255-1625
La Mie Elevate
601 Locust St.; 515-243-1835
La Mie Express
1220 Locust St.; 515-244-3033
Locals line up for the artisan breads, French pastries and desserts at this bakery cafe, which was among the first spots in town to tap into the French macaron renaissance. La Mie and La Mie Elevate (located at the skywalk level of Two Ruan Center) are both full-scale options for breakfast or lunch; look for omelets, soups, salads and sandwiches with creative fillings between slices of the famed fresh-baked bread. At La Mie Express, the options are fewer in number, but still plentiful.
2318 University Ave.; 515-369-6277
Head over to the Drake University neighborhood to this funky hangout with a great groove, where expert baristas craft specialty coffees from painstakingly purveyed beans. Got time to kill? Linger over a carafe of Chemex-filtered coffee or a pot of artisan tea. Also try Mars for a breakfast of French toast or egg-based specialties, such as two eggs over toasted ciabatta with ham and lavender Dijon mustard. A limited lunch menu, mostly starring pressed sandwiches, is also available. Note that at press time a new downtown location, called Mars Sidebar, was in the early stages of opening. Find it in the Capital Square building at 400 Locust St. There was no phone number at press time.
1301 Locust St., Suite D; 515-288-4872
Located just west of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, the Ritual is the kind of warm and funky, one-off coffeehouse you often seek, but don’t often find. With the works of local artists on the rich red walls and storefront windows framing the downtown skyline, it’s a great spot to settle in and enjoy expertly made espresso drinks as well as coffee, tea, wine and beer. Also look for a limited but creative menu of casual vegetarian and vegan breakfasts and sandwiches.
Scenic Route Bakery
350 E. Locust St.; 515-288-0004
After attending the Iowa Culinary Institute, Ames native Katy Nelson continued her education at Chicago’s French Pastry School. She then honed her craft with stints in Chicago and Seattle before returning to Iowa to open this lively bakery-cafe. Enjoy her irresistible pastries and desserts in an urban-chic East Village setting. With creative sandwiches and salads—including quite possibly the world’s best kale salad (with goat cheese, garbanzo beans and roasted red peppers), the lunch menu is as committed and dynamic as the sweets and coffee.
1951 Indianola Ave.; 515-259-9886
At his snug, ornately decorated spot on the near south side, Austrian-born chef-owner Micheal Leo dazzles dessert fans with his famed goodies. Choose from high-and-mighty cakes, dense and luscious tortes, and irresistibly flaky strudels, napoleons and other pastries. Enjoy one alongside a specialty coffee, served Viennese-style on a little silver tray. In addition to the sweet treats, breakfast, lunch and dinner are also served.
Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure
2723 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-244-7694
One of Des Moines’ first coffeehouses remains one of our best, with painstakingly sourced coffee beans roasted in-house, then crafted into precisely wrought cuppas by some of the most professional baristas in town (many of whom have served here for years). The fluffy breakfast eggs—steamed on the espresso machine—are a signature dish here; also enjoy sweet treats, such as muffins, Dutch letters, coffeecake and bar cookies. +