Community in Coffee: A Love Letter to Indy’s Local Coffee Shops

Barista making coffee at a local coffee shop in Indianapolis

Photo of Amberson Coffee courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Moving to Indianapolis was… an unlikely choice for me. Back in 2010, I was college-hopping around my home state of Tennessee, wasting time and money trying to figure out what to do with my life. So, instead of confronting my problems head-on, I fled to my cousin’s house in Indy for the summer—away from everything I knew.

To my surprise, I fell in love with the city, and I fell in love fast. So fast that I moved to Indianapolis in the summer of 2010, and I never left. 

Like many non-Midwesterners, I’d admittedly overlooked Indy’s potential before I moved here. I honestly didn’t know enough about Indianapolis to form an actual opinion. I thought Indy was just another city, and I never realized what I was missing.  

Slowly but surely, Indianapolis roped me in. The longer I lived here, the more I was drawn to Indy’s charming streets, ample eateries, and trademarked Hoosier Hospitality. And eventually, I decided to stay for good. 

What really made me fall in love with Indy? The local coffee community.

Local coffee shops connect you with your neighborhood.

In 2016, I’d had enough of corporate coffee chains and donut shops offering over-roasted, old coffee. I set out to explore all the local coffee shops and find the best cup of coffee in town. 

Indianapolis was a different city back then, and it was hard to find good coffee unless you already knew where to look. 

Like a lot of bigger cities, Indy consists of many smaller neighborhoods, like Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, Cottage Home, and so on. Each of these neighborhoods is a distinguishable pocket of the city with its own unique flavors and experiences to explore. 

Lucky for us, local coffee shops are sprinkled throughout these neighborhoods to draw people in, contribute to the local culture, and provide comfortable spaces for the community to get together. 

As I started searching for these caffeine hubs, I realized that I wasn’t the only person struggling to find Indy’s hidden gems. I decided to start documenting my journey to help other coffee-loving Hoosiers. That’s when the Indianapolis Coffee Guide was born. 

Since 2016, the Indianapolis Coffee Guide has been a passion project of mine, giving folks a curated look into Indy’s local coffee scene. The website has grown alongside the vibrant community and features over 50 local coffee shops and roasters. 

I highly recommend checking out the official guide to learn more about all the amazing coffee shops in the region. If you don’t know where to start, let me give you a quick tour of a few community favorite coffee shops in Indianapolis.

Exterior of Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company

Photo of Calvin Fletcher’s courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Barista working at Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company

Photo of Calvin Fletcher’s courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Fletcher Place and Fountain Square offer chic shops for coffee connoisseurs.

I often lump Fletcher Place and Fountain Square together because they’re next-door neighbors separated by just one short bridge, but don’t let any Fletcher Place residents hear you say that! 

Located just southeast of downtown, Fletcher Place and Fountain Square are both richly diverse communities with proud histories. Art and culture are built into the very foundation of these two neighborhoods with beautiful street art and delicious international cuisines on every corner. So, it’s no surprise that they have some incredible local coffee shops.

Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company

I could tell you about Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company until I’m blue in the face, but nothing I have to say could fully illustrate the impact this cozy café has had on the Fletcher Place community. 

Both the neighborhood and the coffee shop are named after the same Calvin Fletcher—a historic Hoosier from the 1800s. Fletcher left behind a powerful legacy of service and charity, and that spirit lives on in places like Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company. 

Owned by a local father-son duo, Calvin Fletcher’s is a coffee shop on a mission. They’re committed to being “neighbors who help neighbors,” and that’s exactly what they do. Their shop is a welcoming place for everyone to sit and relax, and they always give back to the community. In fact, Calvin Fletcher’s has an in-house charity that lifts up and supports many other local non-profits. 

It used to be weird for me to say that I learned a lot about compassion and being a good neighbor from a coffee shop, but if you visit Calvin Fletcher’s, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Bovaconti Coffee

You can’t talk about coffee in Fountain Square without bringing up Bovaconti Coffee—just down the street on Virginia Ave. This chic and Instagrammable café is as colorful as it is friendly.  

Bovaconti is the perfect spot for meetings, studying, or just stopping by for a treat because they have delicious drinks and great service. The hand-painted murals outside the building welcome you in, while the playful interior design makes you want to stay awhile. Seriously, the space is gorgeous, and it’s definitely a destination for coffee-lovers all over Indiana.

Bovaconti is also the pinnacle of the Fountain Square neighborhood, attracting an eclectic crowd of visitors. You can meet all sorts of people in Fountain Square, and Bovaconti’s central location is the ideal spot to explore all the local shops. If you grab a cup of coffee there, my favorite is the Tiger Eye—their version of a dirty chai latte. 

Amberson Coffee + Grocer

Amberson Coffee + Grocer is newer to the scene in Indy, but they’ve already had a massive impact on the community. From sustainable sourcing to reusable cups, Amberson has helped pioneer a new wave of local coffee that puts sustainability at the forefront. 

They ensure all of their employees are paid a livable wage without tips. Their grocer selection features artisan goods from across the country, and all of their to-go coffees are served in glass jars instead of paper cups. Best of all, if you bring the jars back, they give you a refund you can put towards your next drink. 

Not to mention, the owner Hugo Cano is quite the specialty coffee VIP. He brought home the 2021 U.S. Aeropress Championship title (which is a big deal in the coffee world), and he competed at the 2022 U.S. Coffee Barista Championship in Boston.

Irvington has one of the best coffee shops in Indy.

Irvington is one of those neighborhoods that’s truly the epitome of community. You can tell by the wide range of small businesses that call Irvington home. They have their own local festivals, restaurants, bars, shops, beautiful art—and, of course, coffee.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend stopping by Landlocked Baking Company. Let me tell you: if you ever wondered what happens when you mix a swanky Tiki bar with an adventurous bakery, look no further than Landlocked. This tropical, bamboo-filled café has the best sweet and savory treats. 

Landlocked is actually half-bakery and half-coffee shop, and that’s part of what makes them so great. They have one of the best coffee menus in the city paired with an ever-evolving selection of scrumptious baked goods. Landlocked may be off the beaten path, but it’s a cozy little spot that’s well worth the trip to Irvington.

Exterior of Bovaconti Coffee

Photo of Bovaconti Coffee courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Interior of Bovaconti Coffee

Photo of Bovaconti Coffee courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Explore downtown Indianapolis through coffee.

Since I moved to Indianapolis, I’ve been absolutely enamored with downtown. Like every major city, downtown Indy has seen its ebbs and flows, and it’s been amazing to watch the city blossom into a world-class destination over the past decade. Every street is bustling with different crowds and aspects of the city to explore. 

It should go without saying, but I navigate downtown by looking for the nearest coffee shops.

Coat Check Coffee

No coffee guide of Indianapolis would be complete without Coat Check Coffee on Mass Ave. Since this café opened in 2017, it’s garnered national recognition for the team’s attention to detail and the level of craftsmanship they bring to their service. 

Coat Check Coffee is located in the lobby of the Athenaeum—a historic building that houses community events, restaurants, and more. The coffee shop has made its home in the Athenaeum’s old coat check closet, offering a cozy café with classic charm. 

Coat Check is a go-to coffee shop for downtown Hoosiers. The café is a quiet, urban hub with ample seating for meetings, and if you’re in a rush, their efficient service is perfect for commuters on the go.

Parlor Public House

Tucked away off of Ohio Street, you’ll find a beautiful, hidden oasis we call Parlor Public House. With lush velvet couches, modern industrial tables, and overflowing planters, Parlor provides an enchanting atmosphere for one of the best coffee shops in Indianapolis.

What makes Parlor especially unique is that their coffee shop transforms into a sultry cocktail lounge by night. Both their coffee and cocktail menus serve well-crafted, high-end drinks that taste as good as they look. 

With beautiful aesthetics and late-night hours, Parlor is a must-see destination for locals and travelers alike. I always recommend Parlor Public House to anyone looking for a unique, Indy-only experience.

Tinker Coffee at The AMP

One of my favorite urban trends is the boom of the food hall, and Indianapolis has quickly joined the movement. Over in the Riverside neighborhood, the 16 Tech Innovation District features a food hall called The AMP, and it’s become one of my favorite places in the city. 

The AMP is part of the HqO building at 16 Tech—an innovation hub built inside the old Indianapolis Water Company. The repurposed building is now home to dozens of locally-owned eateries in up-cycled shipping containers. Again to no one’s surprise, my favorite part of The AMP is Tinker Coffee

If you haven’t tried Tinker Coffee before, you’re missing out. They’re lauded as one of the best roasters in the state (and the country, in my opinion), and their adventurous coffee menu is simply unmatched. From drip coffee to playful lattes, Tinker’s curated menu earns perfect tens across the board.

People inside Parlor Public House

Photo of Parlor Public House courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

People at the bar in Parlor Public House

Photo of Parlor Public House courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry

Fall in love with Indy’s coffee scene—one cup at a time.

Local coffee shops are like love letters to the communities around them. You can’t fall in love with a coffee shop without also falling in love with their community—they just go hand-in-hand.

It’s in the way they greet every guest and fill every cup with care. It’s in the way they tailor their menu to the needs of their neighborhood and the way they offer their space to those who need it. Whether you go to a café for a quiet break or a social outing, local coffee shops are special because they embrace their community. 

Every café I visit is an opportunity to learn more about coffee, but it’s also a chance to learn about the neighborhood and what makes each one so special. Don’t get me wrong. I obviously love coffee—but I think it’s inspiring to learn about a place through its people. There’s a reason I fell in love with Indianapolis so quickly, and it’s thanks to Indy’s local coffee shops that I found my place in my new home.

Barista making coffee at Amberson Coffee in Indianapolis

Photo of Amberson Coffee courtesy of Scott Soltys-Curry