Indy’s Most Buzzworthy Espresso – Indianapolis Month-to-month

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Indy's Most Buzzworthy Coffee – Indianapolis Monthly

Coffee has gotten complicated. bean-forward coffee bars speak a totally new language of processing and brewing terms, of regional farms and tasting notes. But behind that technical talk lies a tasty, exciting scene of local roasters and ambitious cafes maximizing coffee’s culinary potential. We overcaffeinated to the point of madness to find these 73 standout drinks at the most exciting shops and hidden counters around the city.

Straight Up

The Finca Las Rosas at Commissary.

Honduras Finca Las Rosas at Commissary Barber & Barista, $3
Roasted by Tinker (Indy)

Commissary rotates beloved local roaster Tinker’s single-origin coffees. This roast is as bold a mix of flavors as you’ll find in java—but you can’t go wrong with any of them. 304 E. New York St., order at commissaryindy.square.site

Espresso at Quills Coffee, price varies

Baristas for this Louisville roastery/cafe “pull a great shot”—i.e., brew it superbly. And they slide you a glass of sparkling water to cleanse your palate. It’s perfect for aspiring connoisseurs. 335 W. 9th St., order at quillscoffee.com

Blue Note Blend Drip at The Well Coffeehouse, $3

This Ethopian and Mexican blend will have you pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, pondering the surprise of a black coffee
that’s sweet with blueberry, chocolate, and floral notes. 8890 E. 116th St., Fishers, order wellcoffeehouse.com

Naranja Blanco at Geist Coffee, $5.35
Roasted by Utopian (Fort Wayne)

A hint of cayenne comes in softly at the end, making for a delightful kick to the flavors of white chocolate and orange oil. 10110 Brooks School Rd., Fishers, order at geist.coffee.com

Clarity Blend at Bovaconti, $3
Roasted by Utopian (Fort Wayne)

The Fountain Square newcomer’s signature blend on drip is a quick morning go-to that still packs specialty-coffee flavor—bright yet mellow. 1042 Virginia Ave.

Espresso at Indie Coffee Roasters, price varies
Roasted by Indie Coffee (Carmel)

ICR’s counter is a standout location for coffee neat. The baristas dial in their machines with pit-crew precision and use the freshest beans roasted in the same room. 220 E. Main St., Carmel

Mexican Pot Coffee at Isaro’s Farmer’s Market, $3

Isaro’s in Fletcher Place serves an authentic café de olla, or spiced Mexican coffee brewed fresh in an earthen clay pot. Made with cinnamon, it has a rich, chocolatey, sweet-and-spicy taste that puts it in the neighborhood of a cozy hot chocolate. 642 Virginia Ave.

Colombia Alexis Gonzales at Provider, $3
Roasted by Certain Feelings (Indy)

Introduce yourself to Certain Feelings, the bean in the Provider and Coat Check family (see sidebar, right), with this playful, tart roast offering notes of grape and raspberry for when you want a little character with your morning cup. 1101 E. 16th St., order at providerindy.square.site

Falls Perk’s house blend.

House Blend at Falls Perk, $1.75
Roasted by Falls Perk Roasting Company (Pendleton)

Go ahead and call it Dad Coffee for its heavy punch of caramel sweetness, dark chocolate, and citrus fruit, but this house-roasted blend packs serious flavor. 125 N. Pendleton Ave., Pendleton, order at fallsperk.com

Daily local roaster drip at Prufrock Coffee Company, $2

At this multiroaster shop, a chalkboard by the register lists the days of the week that it serves certain local roasters on drip. Hit it up any day to sample Indy’s finest, or scout out your favorite and circle the day on your calendar. 5168 N. College Ave.

One & One at Coat Check Coffee, $5
Roasted by Certain Feelings (Indy)

The Athenaeum’s cafe lets you order a shot of espresso alongside half of a flat white (the same shot with steamed milk) and compare the flavors. It’s similar to tasting whiskey neat and then in a cocktail. 401 E. Michigan St.

Cuban at The Well Coffeehouse, $4

The Well’s take on this classic drink tastes more like a hot chocolate, so it will appeal to the occasional coffee drinker in search of caffeine­—who also likes supporting the Tennessee company’s mission to build clean-water sources in coffee-growing countries. 8890 E. 116th St., Fishers, order at wellcoffeehouse.com

Banana Nut Bread Coffee at Noble Coffee and Tea, $1.85
Roasted by
Noble Coffee and Tea (Noblesville)

This Hamilton County roaster makes about 30 flavored coffees and rotates them as drip selections at its cafe. Like the names, the flavors aren’t subtle. With this one, the banana taste—and smell—comes first, followed by the warm bread notes. 933 Logan St., Noblesville, order at noblecoffeeandtea.net

Peru Cajamarca at Bee Coffee Roasters, $4 
Roasted by Bee Coffee (Indy)

This veteran local roaster’s crowning achievement, from a Lima-based collective of more than 500 growers, is flavor-forward but complex, with subtle notes of toffee that make it a joy to experience at any time of the day. 5510 Lafayette Rd., 201 S. Capitol Ave., order beecoffeeroasters.com

Cold Brew

Nitro Cold Brew at Indie Coffee Roasters, $4
Roasted by Indie Coffee (Carmel)

Nitrogen gas and the right type of stout faucet add micro-bubbles that create a smoother drink with a thick, creamy head. ICR’s version is well-regarded around town. Some offices order it by the keg. You’ll think it came from a coffee-flavored mountain stream. 220 E. Main St., Carmel

Cold Brew Black at Julian Coffee Roasters, $14/four
Roasted by Julian (Zionsville)

A traditional cold brew—smooth, rich, full-bodied, and chocolatey— doesn’t get any better than Indy’s OG. When it’s canned, cold brew tastes unique. This one has notes of citrus and mixed berries. 10830 Bennett Pkwy., Zionsville, juliancoffee.com

Tinker’s Snapchilled Cold Brew

Maho Latte at Java House, $6

If walking the Monon with a cup of coconut hot chocolate sounds nice, head to Midtown Plaza in Carmel, where this trailside cold-brew-only counter serves strong 

dolled-up coffee-cocoa. 145 E. Elm St., Carmel

Snapchilled Coffee at Tinker Coffee Company, $5
Roasted by Tinker (Indy)

Leave it to Tinker to introduce an innovative product to the Indy market. The founders were blown away by Snapchilled coffee, invented by a Boston company that brews beans hot then quickly cools them down, which preserves the bean’s bright floral and fruity flavors—the part most java fans like—more so than cold brewing, which dilutes those notes in favor of chocolatey ones. Bovaconti and Goose the Market also carry it. 1125 W. 16th St., tinkercoffee.com

Cocktails

Lovegood Joe at Garden Table, Mass Ave and Broad Ripple

The bean: Tinker Coffee Co. nitro cold brew

The booze: New Amsterdam vodka, Baileys Almande almond-milk liqueur

The bar: Oat milk and coconut-pecan “simple” (the “syrup” part is discreetly left off the menu) make this a drink that somehow seems as fresh and all-natural as the rest of the fare at these sunny, health-conscious cafes.

Belgian Coffee at Taxman Brewing Co., City Way, Fortville, and Bargersville

The bean: Tinker Coffee Co. Conduit

The booze: Irish cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, espresso liqueur

The bar: At seven bucks, this three-liquor concoction costs less than certain fancy Starbucks orders.

1933 Lounge’s Espresso Martini.

Espresso Martini at 1933 Lounge, downtown and The Yard at Fishers

The bean: Lavazza espresso

The booze: Stoli vanilla vodka, Nocello walnut-and-hazelnut liqueur

The bar: Amid the sultry environs of St. Elmo’s lounge—either the downtown original or the new Fishers locale—any drink feels instantly polished. Woodford Reserve chocolate bitters kick this classic up a notch.

Spiked Salted Caramel Cold Brew at Another Broken Egg Café, north side and Fishers

The bean: Royal Cup cold brew

The booze: Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua

The bar: Not all sunny breakfast joints have a full bar. The salted-caramel rim on this glass-jarred eye-opener makes it a brunch treat from the get-go.

OF/AF at Gallery Pastry Bar, downtown

The Rize and Shine Mocha at Rize

The bean: Cold-brew syrup

The booze: Coffee-infused Old Hamer bourbon whiskey

The bar: As their cheeky name for an old fashioned suggests, this downtown riff on SoBro’s Gallery Pastry Shop is about tradition with a twist. A generous orange-peel garnish brings out the citrus notes in this strong cocktail.

Rize & Shine Mocha at Rize, Ironworks Hotel and The Yard at Fishers

The bean: Lavazza espresso and cold brew

The booze: Hangar 1 vodka

The bar: The sleek brunch spot knows how to make a creamy, crowd-pleasing, on-the-rocks indulgence that still feels sophisticated.

Specialty Drinks

The Black Forest Mocha at Rose & Lois.

Black Forest Mocha at Rose & Lois, $5.75
Roasted by Blue Mind (Indy)

This cherry-chocolate drink sings from a whip of single-origin Peruvian cacao by Indy-based SoChatti, which makes premium liquid tasting chocolate. You can make it a little healthier by upgrading to Vital Protein collagen creamer. 7249 E. 146th St., Carmel, roseandlois.com

Honey Praline Latte at Schoolhouse 7 Cafe, $4.50
Roasted by Brickhouse (Greenwood)

Combining her love of pralines with honey’s natural sugars, manager Crystal Clotfelter earns extra credit for promoting this popular seasonal beverage to the permanent menu—and creatively naming cup sizes “freshman,” “sophomore,” etc. Brickhouse’s Heritage Espresso provides a jolt of caffeine, while honey steamed into milk and butter toffee nut syrup lend coziness ideal for winter. 12125 Cyntheanne Rd., Fishers, Schoolhouse 7 app

Teddy Graham at Garden Table, $6
Roasted by Tinker Coffee Co.

Dine in if you can. The expert latte art and cute teal cup-and-saucer presentation make you pause for a tabletop photo shoot before enjoying the fragrant vanilla, maple, cinnamon, and nutmeg treat. 342 Massachusetts Ave., thegardentable.com

Donut Milk Latte at Neidhammer Coffee Co., $5

This eastside cafe makes its own doughnut milk for lattes by bringing together cake, nuts, and whole milk for an overnight soak. 2104 E. Washington St., neidhammer.com/coffee

Mean Vanilla Bean Latte at Prufrock Coffee Company, $4.25

Everyone has had a vanilla latte, but probably not one like this slow sipper made with Prufrock’s house syrup. Subtle and smooth, it has textures and flavors that deserve to be savored. 5168 N. College Ave.

Hygge Latte at Bee Coffee Roasters, $4.70
Roasted by Bee Coffee (Indy)

Cardamom and maple syrup give this inventive latte a natural balance of sweet and savory, and chocolate shavings round out a sweet mouthfeel. It should be high on your wintertime sip list. 5510 Lafayette Rd., 201 S. Capitol Ave., beecoffeeroasters.com

Muddy Irishman at Falls Perk, $3.75
Roasted by Falls Perk (Pendleton)

This mocha might be your new best mate thanks to caramel and Irish cream to make a sweet and heavy sipper that will tickle you green. 125 N. Pendleton Ave., Pendleton, fallsperk.com

The Cool Kid Mocha

Cool Kid Mocha at Amberson Coffee & Grocer, $7

The newest accessory in Fletcher Place is a glass spice jar holding an Amberson specialty drink, like Oberweis dairy spiked with a shot of freshly brewed espresso and shaken over ice for a grownup chocolate milk. Return the jar for a discount. 401 S. College Ave., ambersoncoffee.square.site

Hunnymilk Latte at Amberson Coffee & Grocer, $7.50

Steamed whole milk or oat milk is infused with pure local honey and white flowers. The resulting creamy, not-too-sweet espresso blend is like cashmere to the mainstream latte’s cotton. 401 S. College Ave.

Almond Joe Mocha at Strange Brew, $4.55
Roasted by Strange Brew (Indy)

For this chocolatey candy-bar drink, baristas use their own house-roasted espresso and manage to keep the sweetness in check. 4800 Smith Valley Rd., Greenwood, strangebrewcoffee.com

Pineapple Ube Latte at Commissary Barber & Barista, $5.50
Roasted by Tinker Coffee (Indy)

Over the summer, local lifestyle influencer Mike G put his stamp on a wild yam drink at Commissary. A similar double-espresso take lives on with pineapple and coconut-cream syrups and that purple ube tint. 304 E. New York St., commissaryindy.square.site

The Pineapple Ube Latte

Calvin Pepper Cappuccino at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Co., $4
Roasted by Calvin Fletcher (Indy)

This iconic drink might jolt you with the amount of black pepper, mellowed out—some—with honey. 647 Virginia Ave., cfcoffeeonline.com

White Zombie at Monon Coffee Co., $3.50

Whether white coffee really has more caffeine than espresso or not, morning zombies have been waking up with this Broad Ripple favorite for years. The effect might be strong, but the coffee taste isn’t. Expect complex, filling, and kicky at the end instead. 920 E. Westfield Blvd.

clove miel at Rabble, $5

This eastside darling of the neo-coffee scene was reborn recently, along with its sweet and mildly spicy latte made with real clove, housemade honey simple syrup, and cinnamon. Even better if it’s prepared by Rabble’s new co-owner, barista extraordinaire Mitchell Tellstrom. 2119 E. 10th St.

Spanish Latte at Bovaconti, $4
Roasted by Utopian (Fort Wayne)

Sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon give this drink a creamy, full-bodied experience as warming as it is filling. 1042 Virginia Ave.

Browned Butter Latte at Milktooth, $5.50

The flavors of this complex sipper’s base—nutty brown butter, sugar, vanilla, buttermilk, and amaro for a floral undercurrent—blend for a couple of hours before it’s poured over espresso and finished with orange zest. 534 Virginia Ave.

Dalgona at Rose & Lois, $5.25
Roasted by Julian (Zionsville)

The dalgona craze, fueled by viral DIY attempts during quarantine, carries on at Rose & Lois. Here, baristas whip Julian’s cold brew—an upgrade from the Internet’s suggested freeze-dried instant coffee granules—with sugar before pouring the thickened mixture on top of iced milk. 7249 E. 146th St., Carmel, roseandlois.com

Nobel Jones at Wheelers Café and Market, $5
Roasted by Dark Side (Cicero)

This far-flung cafe is a long way to go for coffee. But you’ll be charmed by the 1940s roadhouse setting, adjacent makers’ market, and this light-and-bright blackberry mocha. 25625 S. R. 37 North, Noblesville, mercantile37.com

Cranberry Cappuccino at Foundation Coffee Company, $5

Underneath a snowdrift of pristine foam garnished with candied cranberries, steamed oat milk blended with housemade cranberry and black-currant syrup and a hint of rosemary goes down juicy, fruity, and bright—and goes away come spring. Wait until flakes fall and savor a cup in one of Foundation’s outdoor personal greenhouses. 4565 Marcy Ln., foundationcoffeecompany.org

Mocha Mint at Perk Up Cafe, $5.25
Roasted by Perk Up (Indy)

Never mind holiday peppermint mochas. This Broad Ripple cafe’s year-round version is more fresh and herby than candy-caney. 6536 Cornell Ave.

Pistachio Latte at Provider and Coat Check Coffee, $6
Roasted by Certain Feelings (Indy)

This drink is legendary among Indy’s die-hard coffee community. It’s the house latte injected with a nutty and slightly sweet housemade pistachio orgeat, finished with rose water and lemon peel. Provider, 1101 E. 16th St.; Coat Check Coffee, 401 E. Michigan St., providerindy.square.site

Healthy Elephant at Hubbard & Cravens, $5.35
Roasted by Hubbard & Cravens (Indy)

This milkshakey, nut-forward drink combines cocoa powder, almond milk, peanut butter, and honey with espresso and ice. Order it as a handy, slurpable breakfast on the go or a buzzy post-workout hit of protein. 4930 N. Pennsylvania St., 6229 Carrollton Ave.

Lime Leaf Latte at Provider and Coat Check, $6
Roasted by Certain Feelings Coffee

In this frothy eye-opener, the combo of coconut and aromatic Thai makrut lime leaves tastes vaguely tropical, like equal parts Fruit Loops and umbrella drink. Provider, 1101 E. 16th St.; Coat Check Coffee, 401 E. Michigan St., providerindy.square.site

Sesame Frittle Latte at Foundation Coffee Company, $5
Roasted by Blue Mind (Indy)

Unless you have a nut allergy, make it a point to try this winter-only gourmet concoction with flavors of sesame and peanut butter, garnished with chewy, crunchy nibs of Indy’s Frittle candy and roasted sesame seeds. 4565 Marcy Ln., foundationcoffeecompany.org

Tea and Chai

The Electric Blue Sweet Soul Matcha

Electric Blue Sweet Seoul Matcha at Leviathan Bakehouse, $4

Wild butterfly pea petals, stone ground in Japanese mills, add an eye-popping blue to this photogenic tea creation. Milk softens the typical bite of matcha, especially refreshing over ice. 1101 N. College Ave.

Nitro Iced Tea at GoldLeaf Savory & Sweet, $2.25

Basic black tea gets mellowed by an infusion of nitrogen, making this the smoothest, creamiest chilled tea you’ll drink in any season, no sugar or ice required. 1901 E. 46th St.

Chai Latte at Foundation Coffee Company, $4.15

Executive chef Twinkle VanWinkle roasts a mélange of spices, especially aromatic black cardamom, for the deeply flavorful chai syrup she cooks down for most of a day, which sets this sweet and balanced tea latte apart. 4565 Marcy Ln.

Indy Fog at Lincoln Lane Coffee Co., $3.25

Lavender syrup lends a welcome floral undertone to the light and frothy fog, made with local Nelson’s Tea. 516 Lincoln St.

Chai Latte at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company, $4.75

Customers can choose from either smooth Big Train or bold and spicy local Aahaa! chai for the foam-topped tea latte at this lovable Virginia Avenue coffee hang.  647 Virginia Ave.

M.O.A.T. at Indie Coffee Roasters, $5.25

This coffee roaster’s house chai latte gets an upgrade with a hint of maple syrup, oat milk, apple-cinnamon, and browned-butter syrup that gives this soother a nutty edge. 220 E. Main St., Carmel

The Indy Fog Iced Tea Latte

Indy Fog Iced Tea Latte at Noble Coffee & Tea Company, $4.50

This delectable fog starts with organic Australian Earl Grey that’s iced, mixed with cream and lavender, then topped with a luscious, lavishly thick cold foam made from skim milk, butterfly pea flower tea powder, and vanilla. 933 Logan St., Noblesville