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Your Espresso Itinerary: 11 Midwestern Coffee Shops Worth a Stop

Thrifty Traveler destination guides

We all have our favorite summer pastimes. Meeting friends at the neighborhood pool. Chasing the ice cream truck. Sitting in the park surrounded by friends.

But this summer, things are looking a little different. Our lives, plans, and hopes for travel have changed. So why not improvise?

A road trip through “the flyover states” across the Midwest is a foolproof plan that allows social distancing without sacrificing the memories. Skip the usual itinerary of tourist attractions, amusement parks, and beach towns. This summer, we’re chasing down the best latte in the Midwest.

Read more: How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip this Summer

Here are 11 spots across the Midwest to fuel up during your road trip.

Wonderstate Coffee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wonderstate, formerly known as Kikapoo Coffee Roasters, is a Milwaukee gem. The company rebranded just a few months ago and their motive is one we can get behind (more here).

While their lattes are perfection and their space is totally Insta-worthy, it’s Wonderstate’s values we’re attracted to most. From farm-focused bean harvesting to solar-powered roasteries, everything they do is for the betterment of the community.


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Heritage Outpost in Chicago

The way to our hearts? Bikes and coffee. It’s a recipe for the perfect Saturday and one everyone needs to try at least once in their life. Heritage Outpost has seven locations in Chicago, but their Lakeview spot is a personal favorite. Here is where you can shop for your dream set of wheels while waiting for your latte and avocado toast.


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Zion Coffee Bar in Peoria, Illinois

The tour through Illinois continues. Zion Coffee Bar is Peoria’s crown jewel — it’s not every day you discover a big city cafe in a small town. On their menu, you’ll find creative concoctions such as root beer cold brew, watermelon mint matcha lemonade and popfogatos (that’s a coffee ice cream bar with espresso).


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Quixotic Coffee in St. Paul, Minnesota

Let’s head up north to the Twin Cities. Nestled within the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, you’ll find Quixotic Coffee. Google the term quixotic and you’ll read “exceedingly idealistic” — and that is just how we’d describe this coffee shop. Everything is curated to perfection, from their subway-tiled walls to their lavender latte. It’s all in the details. 


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Indie Coffee Roasters in Carmel, Indiana

It’s hard to pinpoint what we love the most about Indie Coffee Roasters. Indie, their mascot-turned-logo which happens to be an adorable wiener dog. Their coffee beans, which used to be roasted in a popcorn machine. Or their sense of community.

When you walk through the doors, it almost feels like coming home. And once you try something from their menu, you might as well sign a lease. Because you’ll never want to leave.


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Fox in the Snow in Columbus, Ohio

Fox in the Snow isn’t just a coffee shop. It’s a bakery — and a very good one at that. Rustic-style pastries fill the display cases every morning, leaving you both hungry and conflicted.

How does one choose between a homemade pop-tart and their iconic buttery biscuit? Pro tip: you don’t. You get both.


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Monarch Coffee in Kansas City, Missouri

Monarch is an influencer’s persona; daydream. Walk in and you won’t even know what to photograph first. The circular coffee bar featuring a mint green espresso maker? Maybe a flatlay on one of their marble tables?

Before we go on too much about how cute this place is, it’s important to mention their exquisite coffee. The summer signature drink is an orange creamsicle latte, which in and of itself is worth the drive to KC.


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☕️✨🖤 • 📷: @collectedlivingkc

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Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Detroit, Michigan

Dessert Oasis’s slogan is “certified good stuff” and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. They’ve won awards for their coffee and roasting styles. The host some of the top baristas in the country and curate live music events.

Could this place be any cooler? Highly doubtful.


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Made with love 📷: @thebenlew @slowpoursupply @tacobellkyle

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Hardy Coffee Co. in Omaha, Nebraska

Hardy Coffee Co does it all — and they do it all well.

Made-from-scratch baked goods are a highlight. And a reliable go-to is their chocolate chip scone with an oat milk latte (thank us later). On top of their impeccable menu, Hardy also focuses heavily on roasting beans for wholesale. And that their beans are readily available for you to use in your own shop, business, or just at home.


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Rise Coffee House in St. Louis, Missouri

Rise Coffee House is more than just a place to go and grab a cup of joe. It’s a community hub, as they like to say.

Those words could not ring more true. At the center of their hub is the “Coffee for the People” board. Customers fill the board by purchasing cups of coffee or breakfasts for those who need it most – think of it as paying it forward. There is something to be said about a coffee shop that cares just as much about their customers as they do about their products.


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A gentle reminder to keep your head up. (print by @dominiquevari)

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Horizon Line Coffee in Des Moines, Iowa

Finding a coffee shop that practices sustainable values isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s where Horizon Line Coffee comes into play. Since August of 2019, this Des Moines favorite no longer serves any drink in single-use paper or plastic cups. As if we needed another reason to visit this spot every time we drive through Iowa.

Now, we can order an iced matcha or horchata ube latte, guilt-free.


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Bottom Line

No road trip is complete without a cup of coffee (or five, if we're being honest). Whether you're cruising through Minnesota, Kansas, or any of the other great Midwestern states, now you know where to stop for a much-needed refuel. Order up.

2 Responses

  • I often wonder just where the hell some of these traveling reviewers come from. Peoria, IL isn’t a ‘ big city ’ but It’s definitely NOT a ‘ small town ‘ .

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