From a solo cup of joe to a cuppa with friends: Where Champaign-Urbana goes for great coffee
Thankfully our cities are not lacking in the coffee department. If you forgot to fuel up for the day at home, it’s easy to find an Espresso Royale, a Starbucks, or a Dunkin. (And sometimes you just have to make a caffeine stop at McDonalds or Steak ‘n Shake!) But what about some places unique to Champaign-Urbana?
This list is pretty wide-ranging. We first created it for National Coffee Day (it’s a thing, it’s in September) and we’ve updated it as of February 2020. It includes our favorite places to get coffee — the old-fashioned kind as well as espresso beverages — and not just at traditional coffee shops. We’re pretty lucky to have some great cups of joe around. Without further ado, and in no particular order:
- Caffe Paradiso, Urbana. This Urbana staple happens to be where chambanamoms.com was created. Well, messy birth stories aside, we love the coffee at CP. They serve Intelligentsia which is a great bean. And don’t miss the barista art if you get an espresso drink.
- The Original House of Pancakes, Champaign. It must be a ritual to leave this place shaking after the bottomless cup of coffee you get here. They just keep pouring away, and the coffee is delicious. Sometimes it’s OK to switch to decaf, I remind myself.
- Aroma Cafe, downtown Champaign. The mug is part of the experience and that’s certainly the case at Aroma. It’s comforting drinking a delicious coffee out of a colorful, round, heavy mug. Aroma offers that and more.
- Flying Machine Avionics, midtown Champaign. It’s not just a cozy place; they know their stuff. We love the beans roasted by Champaign’s very own Page Roasting Company.
- Courier Cafe, downtown Urbana. When you need to nurse a deep cup of coffee over conversation with a friend, this is a great place to do it. This classic Urbana joint is known for its flavored coffee, if that’s your thing. And match your coffee with a sundae – perfection. Where’s my big puffy sweater now?
- Bossa Nova, downtown Champaign: Bossa Nova is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee when you want that #chambanawithoutkids date night to linger. When your kids are with you, they have amazing hot chocolate — including house-made whipped cream. Also featuring local beans from Page Roasting Company.
- Clever Moose Market Cafe, Champaign. Our friends at Clever Moose inside Lodgic Everyday Community serve up delicious coffee drinks. The staff is friendly, the service is fast, the coffee is good (Big Shoulders Coffee, named 2019’s Best Coffee in Illinois by Food and Wine!), and the space is perfect to grab a cup to go or to settle in for a meeting.
- Pekara Bakery & Bistro, 2 Champaign locations. We have a soft spot for Pekara’s Springfield location, especially in the winter when you can snag a stool at the window to maximize your light exposure. Their menu offers breads, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads; their coffee is Intelligentsia (and their tea is Rishi, but that’s a whole different post).
A bonus ninth location for great coffee is Sweet Indulgence. This Champaign bakery and espresso bar is in transition, expecting a spring 2020 opening at its new location. Their signature iced sugar cookies have legions of kid fans, and their custom pies/pastries for every holiday imaginable are not to be missed. But since this post is about coffee, we hope they will continue to feature beans from our very own Columbia Street Roastery when they reopen.
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