Some long-standing stereotypes have people believing that they won’t find a good cup of coffee in Utah. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you discover the Beehive State’s burgeoning and enthusiastic coffee culture. These local shops aren’t just duplicating the coffee scenes of other cities, but creating a unique one that embraces the nuances of Salt Lake City and an underground culture coming to the forefront.
Coffee Shop, Coffee
In the tradition of true alchemists, the folks at Alchemy Coffee turn what they touch into pure gold. OK, maybe not real gold, but you’ll be convinced of their magic touch once you have a sip. Like many coffee shops, the atmosphere is laid-back, but this spot has a hard-rock vibe as well, with skulls and an affinity for the Grateful Dead. And along with great coffee, customers often rave about the food menu as well. So grab your favorite java, a slice of freshly made quiche and rock out. Alchemy has two locations; the original in a quaint neighborhood south of downtown, and a second that shares a building with a local restaurant on Capitol Hill.
The Central 9th district is one of Salt Lake’s most up-and-coming, and Blue Copper Coffee Room provides a place for gathering, people-watching, and refueling. Blue Copper was previously known as Nobrow Coffee but revamped their image and branding a few years ago. Customers can still expect the same excellent customer service, but now with small-batch roasted beans and a totally reimagined style. The interior is a mix of a clean, neutral color palette, interesting industrial lines, and rustic warmth. Along with serving their own roasts, they amiably brew beans from other high-quality local roasters, promoting a growing sense of community among Salt Lake coffee enthusiasts.
The owners and staff at Caffe d’Bolla are passionate about coffee, and it shows. Taking special care when selecting beans, Caffe d’Bolla uses only single origin coffees from what they call micro-regions, small farms, and estates. They also primarily use a siphon coffee maker, a system that uses boiling water and a vacuum effect to extract the flavor from the grinds. The whole process is equal parts science experiment and miracle-working. The result is a cup of coffee that has maintained all of the aromas and delicate flavors of the original beans. And if you’re not in the mood for java, try a refreshing bubble tea with flavors like coconut, grapefruit and black cherry.
Yes, this coffee company is taking a jab at the predominant religion of the area. But it’s all in good fun. Behind its cheeky and clever cultural references, Jack Mormon Coffee can back up their claims of making some of the best coffee in the state. Not only is the cafe a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, but it also sells the freshest roasted coffee you can get. Stop by and pick your own green beans, then grab a drink while you wait for them to be roasted. You’ll be walking out with a hand-selected, boutique batch of beans to brew at home.
When this company first opened, it was called Charming Beard, and guests were often greeted by happy-go-lucky baristas, sporting full lumberjack beards and man buns. It was a fun and playful image, but the brand grew up a bit and changed the name to La Barba. The company has grown rapidly in its short four years, and now has two cafes on the University of Utah campus, and one in downtown Salt Lake, inside elegant Spanish restaurant, Finca. Though the attitude of La Barba still maintains that fun, creative vibe, they are serious about coffee and the life-changing effects of slowing down and taking in a handcrafted beverage.
The mantra of Publik Coffee Roasters is “Quality over quantity. Community over corporate. Planet over profit.” It pretty much makes us want to hug a unicorn and fight for world peace. On a sincere note, Publik really does embody some of the best principles we can think of when it comes to creating great food and beverages, and being part of a community. Through careful sourcing and a true artisan attitude, each coffee brewed shows a high attention to detail and dedication to good coffee. Visitors can try it for themselves at the original Publik in downtown Salt Lake City, Publik Kitchen, which serves their great coffee alongside a full menu in the 9th district, or in their newest location, a smaller shop in the Avenues.
Unassuming and approachable, Raw Bean is just the coffee shop that every neighborhood needs. The baristas are always friendly, and get your beverage to you quickly and correctly. And to add some whimsy to your day, Raw Bean creates specials that play on the current weather, seasons, or pop culture trends. The month of May brought Star Wars-themed drinks like the Yoda (green tea with coconut) and the Han Solo (a toffee and caramel latte). Another month saw a Beatles theme, with drinks like a blackberry mocha, called the Blackbird, and a peach green tea, dubbed the Yellow Submarine.
Over the last six years, The Rose Establishment has become the new see-and-be-seen place for hipsters and artists in Salt Lake. Taking over a space that was once a popular lunchtime soup cafe, The Rose began by serving made to order coffee and a few pastries. Since then, it has grown exponentially to include a full breakfast and lunch menu, along with its craft coffee drinks. Today, fresh pastries and baked goods are all made in-house, and the menu is seasonally driven. But some favorites still remain, including the smashed avocado toast – avocado, olive oil, black pepper and fleur de sel on a five-seed bread. It’s a spot-on accompaniment to an iced tea or a perfectly pulled shot of espresso.
Long before many of the other coffee shops on our list got their starts, Salt Lake Roasting Company had been humbly roasting, and serving, coffee for years. As Salt Lake’s oldest coffee roaster, this company has experience and longevity to boast of. Sourcing beans that are always Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance certified, the company roasts coffee for sale by the pound, and uses it in their cafes. The downtown location on 400 South in Salt Lake City is a favorite hangout for locals, and a newer location near the city’s public library is gaining a loyal following as well. Both offer ideal spaces to gather with friends or to enjoy some alone time while you indulge in great coffee.
Just the name, Sugar House Coffee, has significant meaning to locals in the Sugar House area, south of downtown Salt Lake. The eclectic neighborhood attracts a variety of customers, from students and artists, to professionals and soccer moms, and Sugar House Coffee embraces every bit of the area’s bohemian tradition. Over the last 10 years, the shop has seen many changes and a handful of location moves, as developments have been made to the historic center of Sugar House. But Sugar House Coffee still provides an atmosphere that is welcoming and friendly, along with amazing coffee from local roaster Rimini Coffee. Sugar House Coffee also hosts live musicians on a regular basis, so check the company’s website for a schedule to get a taste of the local music scene.