University of Iowa has ample study space around campus, but a lot of individuals fail to take into account the places that are off campus. Coffee shops provide good food, a welcoming environment, and of course an extra kick of motivation to get your homework done and your life in check.

Java House

Java house, a locally owned shop in Iowa City, has multiple locations throughout campus. This includes one located within the ground floor of the Iowa Memorial Union, one on East Washington Street a few blocks off campus, and six other sprinkled throughout Iowa City. Java in the IMU is a great place to grab a kick of caffeine and run. Java on Washington is more of a place to relax, meet with friends, and do homework. They serve delicious teas, espresso, and fun seasonal drinks year around. It is also connected to Heirloom, a down-right divine soup and salad cafe. This is a great option for study binging, because you can get more than just your basic coffee and pastry.


Cortado is one of my personal favorite locations to get my life together, and sip a yummy drink while doing it. This locally owned shop is relatively new, and is located right on Clinton street in the heart of campus. They specialize in a modern feel, European style espresso, and Mediterranean-inspired soups, salads, and sandwiches. Cortado provides a fast-paced energy with a small-town, welcoming atmosphere. However, since the location is so convenient you may want to take a pair of headphones with you, because it tends to be fairly loud and social most of the time.

City bus lines pass by on Clinton Street outside of Cortado, a new coffee shop in Iowa City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

High Ground Cafe

One of the hipper and more progressive feeling locations is High Ground on East Market Street. This is the farthest shop from central campus, but is still within reasonable walking distance. High Ground sets itself apart from other cafes by having entertainers come in throughout the week. This can be anything from poetry to acoustic guitar, or even stand-up. They also serves wine and beer, and is open until 11PM. If you’re in the mood for some chill entertainment and a brew after reading notes all day, High Ground is definitely the place for you.

Encounter Café

It seems nothing but good things are said about the Encounter Café. This shop is unique for a few reasons. Firstly the shop is owned by a local Mennonite church in the area. They also have signature soft pretzels and a variety of other pastries made from scratch daily, boast a scrumptious breakfast and lunch menu, an impressive list of hot and cold drinks, and all of this comes from sustainable fair-trade beans and local farmers around the Iowa City area. The hospitality and home-town emphasis is unmatched by chains like Starbucks and Caribou.

Prairie Lights

Another unique coffee shop is actually not really a coffee shop at all. Well, sort of. Located within the Prairie Lights Bookstore lies a semi-secret coffee shop. Surround yourself with books, a rotating gallery of art, and friends as you sip on some of their seasonal or staple drinks. Prairie Lights also boasts a hipster feel, and often has poetry readings, slams, open mic nights, and various other forms of entertainment. All in a warm atmosphere that smells like old books, who doesn’t love that?

Each coffee shop in Iowa City can provide you with a unique experience based on not only the varying drinks and food, but the building and the people themselves. This makes doing homework and collective yourself so much more enjoyable, and will help motivate you to get stuff done. Along with supporting local businesses and the economy in Iowa City – it really doesn’t get much better than that.


Megan Lumetta

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