Every IC coffee shop that will get you through this first week of classes

Spring semester is here and an inspirational quote isn’t going to get you through it—you need some coffee

Pull yourself up by your black and gold bibs Hawkeyes —a new semester is officially upon us, and you know what that means. It’s time to prep yourself for all the highs, but mostly lows, that syllabus week has to offer.

In order to save yourself from a 2 p.m. crash, even though on any given Saturday in spring that’s when you’re thriving, here is a list of all the coffee shops in Iowa City that you need to know about to help you drag yourself through the first week of this semester.

Java House

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Java House is a cool and cozy little coffee shop and Iowa City exclusive. Launched by a fellow Hawkeye in 1994, Java was designed to be the perfect balance between relaxation and socialization, with a shot of espresso. It’s a great meeting place for group projects or to study with friends… if you’re lucky enough to win the waiting game for a table.

Being an IC original, the downtown location stays pretty busy, but the good news is that there are several other locations on or near campus like at the IMU and UIHC.

Java is best known for its one cup drip coffee bar, but definitely knows its way around some lattes, mochas, and teas. They have a variety of seasonal drinks this year including the Gingersnap Latte, Apple Butter Latte, and Mistletoe Blend coffee.


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New to Iowa City, this coffee shop has quickly become a favorite in the community. Cortado is a European, metropolitan-style cafe that offers a variety of espresso drinks, drip coffees and bomb food.

You won’t find their unique Mediterranean-inspired soups, salads, sandwiches, anywhere else in Iowa City. Plus, customers rave about their bakery items.

“They're so good I'm pretty sure it's impossible to just eat one,” a Yelp reviewer said about Cortado’s chocolate chip cookies.

Their one tragic flaw is that they do not have Wi-Fi. So if you need a good study-detox and refuelling before your final, Cortado is the spot to go. Check it out on N. Clinton St. just a few doors down from Airliner.


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As basic as it may be, you all know that Starbs always gets the job done. Sure, they may never, ever get your name right, but at least you can be sure that you’re getting quality, overpriced coffee.

This winter, they have 12 different seasonal drinks, but their newest is the obnoxiously festive Christmas Tree Frappuccino —an icy blend of mocha and peppermint, topped with a green-tinted matcha whip, caramel drizzle, candied cranberries, and a strawberry tree topper. Yum… Probably great if you’re 15, but lacks the caffeine kick that you need now as a college student.

Another perk though, is the Starbucks mobile app. Downloading it is app-solutely essential for the start of classes because you can mobile order your coffee so it’s ready to go as soon as you are. You’ll never have to choose between being late or not having coffee again!

study time

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Prairie Lights Cafe

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This one is actually for all you tea lovers out there. Even though the Prairie Lights Cafe has plenty of great options for coffee, they are best known for their tea selection. They do have a seasonal Brown Sugar Latte though that tastes like your favorite holiday cookies with a shot of espresso.

Another hidden gem in Iowa City, the Prairie Lights Cafe is located right above the bookstore downtown. Though they have a smaller seating selection, the wide windows and skylights make it the perfect spot to soak in some sunlight during Iowa’s least wonderful time of the year, and you can usually find a seat here since it’s not as mainstream as the other places on this list.

*Fun Fact: The very first Java House actually started here until they moved down the street to their current downtown location.

High Ground Cafe

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Opened in 2013, High Ground is another Iowa City original. Offering quality coffee, teas, and unique sandwiches, this is a cafe that locals love. They use Kickapoo coffee which is an Artesian, locally-roasted blend from Viroqua, WI.

High Ground’s huge seating selection also makes for a great study location, and the fireplace is an especially nice touch for this time of year. They even have some beer and wine selections for when you finally get to that point where you’ve lost all hope and decide you’re just done with this semester.

Bruegger’s Bagels with Caribou Coffee

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Bagels and coffee? Name a more iconic duo. Bruegger’s has paired up with Caribou Coffee at their downtown location on Iowa Ave. This is hands down the best place to grab your breakfast and coffee for an early morning study sesh. Their seasonal drinks include their Ho Ho Mint Mocha—a mint mocha that can be made with dark, milk, or white chocolate—and their Fa La Latte —an espresso with steamed eggnog, whipped cream, and nutmeg.


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Iowa City is full of locally-exclusive businesses, and T-Spoons is another one of them. T-Spoons is a small cafe tucked away in the Old Capitol Mall.

In addition to their traditional coffee and espresso drinks, you can always count on this place to have a unique seasonal drink that no other coffeeshop will have. One of these is the French Toast latte which is amazing. It tastes just like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a cup.

Kum & Go

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No, that’s not a joke. Hawkeye students swear by their coffee. Not only because it’s cheap, but also because it’s fast, on the way, and you can quickly rack up rewards for a free cup of joe which takes months to do at Starbucks.

You can count on Kum & Go for pretty much anything: quarters for laundry, chasers at 1 a.m., groceries when your friends all go to Walmart without you. So don’t rule them out when you’re in need of caffeine and running late because you were up all night studying for that final you told everyone you weren’t worried about when you went out last weekend.

Don't feel guilty about spending your last penny on some coffee. Winter break is over, treat yo' self.

“Aren't you broke?" Betch, I might be. #shopAKIRA

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