By Nicole Davis
There’s nothing better than that first sip of a hot drink on a cold day. No matter where on the Southside you find yourself, there’s likely to be a locally owned café nearby to give you a caffeine kick (or decaf, tea or juice) – you just have to know where to find it.
We have you covered. This issue of The Southside Times outlines many of the small, locally owned coffee and beverage-focused shops in each neighborhood.
The National Coffee Association released a study in 2020, stating that seven in 10 Americans drink coffee every week, and 62% drink coffee every day. Imagine the impact to our local economy if more of that spending could go to small businesses. Next time you’re looking for a cup on the go – think local, or maybe try something new!
Silver Linings Coffeehouse
700 Main St., Beech Grove, silverliningscoffeehouse.com
Silver Linings Coffeehouse opened in October 2021 and is located in the heart of downtown Beech Grove. The coffee shop still features the original-to-the-building bank vault from the 1920s. Silver Linings aims to be a place for the neighborhood to stop in and get their caffeine fix to go or to sit and talk awhile. There are plenty of outlets for students and remote workers. Silver Linings serves hand-crafted espresso drinks, brewed coffee and a variety of baked goods including gluten-free options. They also sell a selection of used books, vinyl records and artwork from local artists.
Most popular drink: Honey Vanilla Latte
Most unique drink option: Orange Ginger Latte
Best non-coffee offering: Matcha Latte
Most popular food item: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, bigcar.org/project/normal
Normal Coffee, open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is an arts-centric public coffee shop inside Tube Factory artspace that offers a cozy spot to work, gather and explore. Normal Coffee started in 2019 by the 501(c) (3) arts nonprofit Big Car Collaborative. Big Car artists work every day with neighbors to support a stronger community on the Southside of Indianapolis from their home base, the Tube Factory artspace. One of the best ways to bring people together is with food and drink. Normal features Indianapolis-based Tinker Coffee as its primary beans, with occasional guest beans to try.
Most popular drink: Normal Latte
Most unique drink option: Michelada
Best non-coffee offering: Hot Chocolate
Most popular food item: Croissant Toast
323 Market Plaza, Greenwood; 41 W. Monroe St., Franklin, coffeehousefive.com
Coffeehouse Five was born in 2011 out of a desire to serve the community. “We do this by not only creating an inviting and comfortable space for connections but also by providing free marriage and addictions counseling that is supported by the revenue generated from the shops,” stated Brian Peters, owner. “As we say it, we want to be THE place for coffee, community and compassion.” While Franklin and Greenwood look very different, they have created an inviting, warm and comfortable environment at both.
Most popular drink: The Signature Maple Caramella
Most unique drink: Currently, Honey Golden Milk Latte
Most popular food item: Breakfast Biscuit with a Parmesan Chive Biscuit
Best Kept Secret: “We wish it weren’t a secret, but we roast all of our coffees at our Franklin location.”
916 E. Main St., #112, Greenwood, root2risewellness.net
Elaine Mitchell stated that she started Root2Rise to bring healthy options to the Southside while also being able to educate on nutrition and offer a gathering place for people that is healthy and calming. Root2Rise partners with Brickhouse, Tinker and Indie Coffee Roasters to offer more delicious menu items for caffeine lovers! The shop’s atmosphere is designed to be Zen and earthy depending on the music of the day.
Most popular drink: Anti-inflammatory juice
Most unique drink: Beet root latte or lavender lemonade
Best non-coffee offering: Acai bowl
Best kept secret: The tropic Indy is not listed on the menu anymore but was when the shop opened, and they still get requests!
4800 Smith Valley Road, Greenwood, strangebrewcoffee.com
Strange Brew has existed in its current location since 2004. Husband-and-wife team Dan and Toni Carr purchased it in 2005 and have run it ever since. They both have a sincere love of coffee (Dan lived in Italy and Seattle for a time) and wanted to live that coffee shop atmosphere that they both appreciated so much. “It’s been so much fun, and we love being here in Greenwood,” stated Toni. She said the shop is designed to feel like a quirky, late-90s cafe. “We aren’t as sleek or modern as some of the newer places; our drinks are crafted with skill and love!”
Most popular drink: It’s a toss-up between Blonde Bombshell and the Holiday Grogg brewed coffee.
Most unique drink option: The aforementioned Blonde Bombshell! It’s a white mocha made with blonde roasted espresso. An extra caffeine kick (did you know that typically it’s the lighter coffee roasts that have more caffeine?) and sweeter than traditional coffee.
Best non-coffee offering: In-house brewed chai. It’s brewed from scratch and it’s an all-day process! Then they add honey, spices and sweeteners. When steamed with milk, vanilla and almond, it’s a perfect tea latte!
Most popular food item: Breakfast croissant or pumpkin cream cheese muffins. The muffins are made in house, the croissant is a sandwich that you can customize with your choice of cheese, sausage or bacon. (They also have many vegetarian and vegan options!)
401 S. College Ave., Indianapolis, ambersoncoffee.com
With a background in coffee competitions, owner and founder Hugo Cano moved to Indy in March of 2020 and opened the doors to Amberson Coffee in June of that same year. A multi-roaster highlighting coffees from roasters from all around the world, Amberson is housed in a former gas station that was converted into a convenience store. Cano incorporated the refrigerators in the shop to offer groceries as a way to adapt to the changing conditions of that year. Amberson Coffee believes in sustainability, using glass reusable jars as its only takeaway option, compostable takeaway containers and more. Since opening, Amberson Coffee has been nominated for best new cafe to open in 2020 by Sprudge and has won the U.S. AeroPress competition in 2021.
Most popular drink: Date-Vanilla Latte
Most unique drink option: Drink of the Month, which highlights a Guest Roaster of the Month
Best non-coffee offering: Horchata
Most popular food item: The Eggy
Best kept secret: There is a Secret Menu! Some of it is available online and the rest is offered in-store only.
1042 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis, bovaconticoffee.com
Bovaconti Coffee, which opened in October 2019, is designed to provide a great meeting spot for the local artist and business community, as well as a walkable destination for neighboring residents. “We wanted to create a great coffee experience without the pretentiousness or unapproachable atmosphere that is sometimes associated with a craft coffee shop,” stated Justin Jones, owner. “We also wanted to highlight the amazing and talented coffee rosters that our city has to offer. We source our roasted coffee almost exclusively from Indiana roasters … with the occasional feature coming from Louisville or Cincinnati.” Bovaconti Coffee features everything from crafted lattes with oat milk to the $3 drip coffee.
Most popular drink: Spanish Latte (winter); Cherry Blossom (spring/summer)
Most unique drink option: Bella Latte, a pistachio and amaretto latte with cherry purée
Best non-coffee offering: Cherry Blossom, a matcha latte with cherry flavored coconut milk
Most popular food item: Egg Bistro Croissant and Four Birds Cookies
Best kept secret: Bronze Latte, a golden milk latte with espresso
Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company
647 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis, cfcoffeecompany.com/contact
Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company opened in September 2009 to provide good coffee in a neighborhood where there wasn’t any (then). In 2016, they purchased a roaster from US Roaster Corp and began its own roasting adventure. Its website states that while there is reduced seating inside at that moment because of the pandemic, they have a safe space to order, pick up and sit, plus a shared courtyard – one of the most amazing outdoor spaces around – with fire pit and heaters.
Nine Lives Cat Cafe
1315 Shelby St. #1, Indianapolis, ninelivescatcafe.com
Nine Lives Cat Cafe started five years ago. The originators were the first cat cafe (cat lounge with coffee shop) in the state of Indiana. Since about two years ago, they have expanded the number of adoptions – they just hit 1,210 from 513 at the start of the pandemic – and expanded the drink and pastry options to include many additional items such as artisan Japanese tea ceremony sweets. They proudly serve vegan pastries from Sea Salt & Cinnamon in Muncie and pastries from local favorite 4 Birds Bakery.
Most popular drink: Dirty Chai
Most unique drink option: Milk Tea (black or green) with cherry blossom boba pearls; also lavender flavored syrup
Best non-coffee offering: Root & Revelry craft sodas (there’s nothing in them that you can’t pronounce!); also the new Icy Cats (ice-blended beverages)
Most popular food item: Cheese Danish, Vegan Coffee Cake or Breakfast Burrito
Best kept secret: The fact that we exist … really!
Mocha Nut Coffee Shop
1625 E. Southport Road, Indianapolis, mochanutcoffee.com
Mocha Nut Coffee Shop owners wanted to provide a place for people to meet and hang out, a community hub of sorts, to give back to the community that has provided so much for them. Marnie grew up in Southport; son Seth was born and raised Southside, and Clint, silent partner, husband to Marnie, father to Seth, moved from Colorado and has lived on the Southside for 28 years. “People are gathering around coffee so we felt it would be a great way to care for and invest in our community,” stated Marnie Weber, co-owner. “We love people and desire that everyone feels like family.” They purchased the building, previously the Acropolis Restaurant & Lounge, in 2017, made renovations and opened in June 2019.
Most popular drink: Lattes (customized to suit the customer)
Most unique drink option: Ginger peppercorn latte, house made with fresh ginger, fresh turmeric and crushed peppercorn
Best non-coffee offering: Bold Masala Chai, locally made by Aahaa
Most popular food item: Blueberry lemon muffin
Best kept secret: We are a family run business. Grandma, mom, dad, sons and son-in-law all contribute to the coffee shop success.