Food & Drink

We Drank So Much Caffeine to Find the Best Coffee Shops in Louisville

Published On 06/28/2016 Published On 06/28/2016

Sunergos

Preston (& other locations)

You don’t have to look too far to find Sunergos coffee in this city. In addition to running a handful of espresso bars throughout Louisville, the ever popular micro-roastery also provides a variety of local restaurants with its own beans. 

Highland Coffee Company

Highlands 

Since “I know where Highland Coffee is” is the slogan at this Louisville favorite, it comes as no surprise that there's a bit of a cult following. Having set up shop in one of the city's most eclectic neighborhoods over 17 years ago, this place is known for the extensive variety of custom bean blends, that famous draft nitro-cold coffee, and having a delicious vegan-friendly menu (read: dairy free delights and milk substitutes for your cappuccino). Not into coffee? No problem. Highland makes the best chai tea latte in the 'Ville.

Heine Brothers' Coffee

Heine Brothers' Coffee

Highlands (& other locations)

Louisvillians don’t have to look far to find a Heine Brothers'; this home-grown local chain plays host to 13 locations scattered throughout the city. Founded in 1994, it prides itself on being a 100% fair trade and organic coffee roaster. The daily brew is ever-changing, so there's no shortage of new flavors. In fact, keep an eye out for the new "Explorers Series": a collection of small-lot coffees that showcase unique flavor profiles and production methods from across the world. The series is being rolled out throughout 2016.

Day’s Espresso and Coffee

Highlands

The mishmash of seating areas set amongst stacks of board games and books at this neighborhood coffee joint creates a just-cozy-enough vibe for any time of day. This place opened back in 1994 and has ever since been offering some wonderful coffeehouse classics, with beans sourced from Montanos Brothers Roasters in San Francisco. In addition, Day’s also offers a large selection of loose-leaf teas and snacks from neighboring local favorites, Kizito Cookies

Courtesy of LaGrange Coffee Roasters

La Grange Coffee Roasters

La Grange

The East End has been sorely lacking in local food and beverage haunts. Thankfully the family behind La Grange Coffee Roasters didn’t let the location deter them when they opened on Main St. Committed to "putting the ‘special’ back in specialty coffee," La Grange Coffee Roasters creates its own bean blends and bakes a variety of pastries in house. Bluegrass music fans should plan to visit on Monday nights, when various local musicians gather to jam from 6:30-8:30pm.

Press on Market

Press on Market

Downtown

Press on Market is located on the corner of Market and Floyd, right in between the central business district and NuLu. With new offices surrounding this nook of Downtown, Press has proven to be a welcomed addition to the corner. Those within walking distance are happy to sip Press’s expertly crafted espresso drinks made with beans roasted by local favorite, Good Folks Coffee Co. 

Gallery K & Coffeehouse

Germantown

After over two years in Butchertown, Gallery K recently made the move to the edge of Germantown and the Highlands and has laid down new roots on Barret Ave. The beans are locally sourced and dogs are welcome to join customers in the shop while they sip. But it's more than just a coffee shop: Gallery K boasts rotating art exhibitions and weekly open-mic standup comedy nights as well as life-drawing workshops. 

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

Smokey’s Bean

Old Louisville

Named after the owner’s beloved dog, Smokey, this coffee shop is relatively new to the Old Louisville scene and is filling a much-needed java hole in the city’s oldest neighborhood. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to join their owners for a cup of joe made from custom bean blends by local roaster Good Folks. And if you're looking for something a bit different, try the Special Gooey Caramel Latte, an indulgent blend of caramel sauce and vanilla syrup spiked with a shot of espresso and steamed milk. 

Please & Thank You

Please & Thank You

Nulu (& other locations)

What happens when you mix vinyl records, coffee, and the best damn cookie in the city? You get Please & Thank You. This idiosyncratic NuLu coffee house/record store has always been an instant hit with Louisvillians and tourists alike. It's a quirky shop well known for its quality coffee and oh-so-amazing baked goods. The business has expanded in recent years, opening Hot Coffee -- the bakery location in Portland -- and Please & Thank You on The Avenue in Clifton earlier this year. 

Quills Coffee

Quills Coffee

Highlands (& other locations)

It didn’t take long for Quills to establish itself as one of the most legit coffee shops in town, probably because the owners take their love of coffee very seriously. They're committed to crafting the perfect cup by roasting, brewing, and sourcing beans from all over the globe. And trust us, they do. Also, hand-in-hand with the premium coffee is cultivating a sense of community in the various shops, a mission that's surely working given the continuous stream of locals filling the seats at locations throughout the city. 

Sister Bean's

Iroquois 

Located across the street from Iroquois Amphitheater, Sister Bean's opened in 2005. The brainchild of brother-sister duo Corky Girodo and Teresa Gailor serves custom bean blends crafted by Crimson Cup in Ohio. The shop itself is a great try, thanks to the drive-thru and outdoor seating area (because rain or shine, you need the Sister Bean's coffee and cake/pastry menu in your life). 

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

Safai

Highlands 

"Local, Organic, Micro-Lot Coffees" is painted at the entrance of Safai, making it clear upon arrival just where the place's priorities lie. While the retail shop on Bardstown Rd offers an extensive list of caffeinated creations along with beer and wine for the post-5pm crowd, Safai may be best known for those wholesale offerings (translation: buy them beans). The extensive roasting facilities allows Safai to craft custom bean blends to share with both Louisvillians and those living outside of the state alike. 

VINT Coffee

VINT

Clifton

VINT is technically part of the Heine Brothers’ family, but it maintains its own unique character and is a staple for those living in the Clifton neighborhood. The place has an expansive covered patio as well as a drive-thru and ample indoor seating. Plus, a small selection of wine and beer is on offer for those wishing to move from caffeine to cocktails. 

Red Hot Roasters 

Irish Hill 

This drive-thru-only establishment has made quite an impression on Louisville since opening in 2006. As a small-batch organic coffee roaster, Red Hot Roasters' beans can be found for sale at local grocery stores throughout the city. In fact, owner Sondra Powell will even come to you via the oh-so-in-demand Red Hot Roasters catering services, should you care to go that route.

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1. Sunergos Coffee 2122 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40217

This Louisville java mini-empire's got locations all across the city doling out premium espresso and micro-brewed beans for your drinking pleasure. The Preston outpost's warm and bright with a cheery mural and yellow colored walls. Friendly baristas will gladly pour you a cup adorned with some seriously world class latte art.

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2. Highland Coffee Company 1140 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

"Keeping Louisville weird" with nitro-cold brew on draft and plenty of vegan treats, this colorful Louisville mainstay is a unique spot to kick back with a coffee in hand. The cozy cafe brews up a wide variety of sweet drinks including iced Mochas topped with Swiss Chocolate, vegan bourbon hot cocoa, and pecan praline lattes. Since “I know where Highland Coffee is” is the slogan at this Louisville favorite, it comes as no surprise that there's a bit of a cult following.

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3. Heine Brothers' Coffee 516 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Highlands)

Founded in 1994, this Louisville-proud brewhouse and craft coffee house is a local favorite because of its ever-evolving, niche selection of organic and fair trade beans and roasts. The vibe of the area mini-chain (they've got 13 outposts across the city) is friendly and low-key with comfortable seating and some solid Wi-Fi for web surfing.

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4. La Grange Coffee Roasters 110 E Main St, La Grange, KY 40031

Located on a quaint side of main Street, La Grange continues the picturesque vibe with a light-filled, carpeted room that inspires cozy, latte-centered mornings. Filled with love seats, rocking chairs, board games, and a friendly staff, the space offers a relaxing reprieve from street-side activity. Bluegrass music fans should plan to visit on Monday nights, when various local musicians gather to jam from 6:30-8:30pm.

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5. Press On Market 252 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202

Washed in sea foam green and decorated in a charming, minimal style, this coffee shop located between the central business district and NuLu serves up expertly crafted espresso drinks with beans from local roaster Good Folks Coffee Co. In addition to delectable pastries and light bites, plentiful seating -- a rarity in the area -- and free wi-fi keep the shop buzzing with neighborhood chatter.

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6. Gallery K 976 Barret, Louisville, KY 40204

A combination art gallery, performance venue, and what most regulars prefer it as -- a coffeehouse -- Gallery K grinds Red Hot Roaster beans and and serves up Wiltshire Pantry’s pastries. In addition to hosting rotating art exhibition and weekly open-mic standup comedy nights, the space also boast a front seating area and back patio, where customers can lounge during the warm-weather months.

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7. Smokey's Bean 1212 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203 (Old Louisville)

This pup-themed coffee shop and espresso bar's a relative newcomer on the Louisville craft coffee scene, offering house blends and coffeehouse favorites at a fair price. Peruse the shop with your pooch and treat yourself to the Special Gooey Caramel Latte, an indulgent blend of caramel sauce and vanilla syrup spiked with a shot of espresso and steamed milk.

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8. Please & Thank You 800 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206 (Nulu)

Please & Thank You is a hip small-batch bakery, coffee house, and record store in one, meaning you can stop by to sip a latte while listening to vinyl tunes and biting into its famously decadent chocolate chip cookies. Though it's not your typical brunch spot, Please & Thank You also offers some excellent breakfast fare at the counter, including a range of bagels (add some color to your morning with the Rebel, an every-seed bagel with cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles) and incredible egg sliders anointed with habanero on brioche buns.

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9. Quills Coffee 930 Baxter Avenue , Louisville, KY 40204

It didn’t take long for Quills to establish itself as one of the most legit coffee shops in town, probably because the owners take their love of coffee very seriously. Hand-crafted coffee in the form of unique, signature blended drinks (check out The Alchemist, a soy latte brewed with cinnamon, agave, cocoa and cayenne pepper) is available at their three locations across Louisville, and Quills' own roasting operation makes it your one-stop shop for one great cup.

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10. Sister Beans Coffee House 5225 New Cut Rd, Louisville, KY 40214 (Iroquois)

Located across the street from Iroquois Amphitheater, Sister Bean's the brainchild of brother-sister duo Corky Girodo and Teresa Gailo, who dole out custom bean blends in a quirky and comfortable storefront. The shop itself is a great try, thanks to the drive-thru and outdoor seating area. Offering Heitzman's pastries in addition to Lousville Cream handcrafted ice cream, this is your go-to for a sweet treat.

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11. Safai 1707 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205

Following a "seed-to-cup" model, Safai (located in the Highlands) roasts organic coffees from 11 different countries in an airy space with plenty of couch seating and lush greenery in every window. When you're not ordering a simple roast or latte to-go, take note of the full menu of handmade crepes (the herb garden's got truffle oil, herb butter and mushrooms) and the alcoholic offerings (mimosas. Need we say more?).

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12. VINT 2309 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Clifton)

VINT is a rustic and cozy extension of Kentucky's ever-famous Heine Brothers Coffee brand serving organic and fair trade roasts from around the globe. Let its black brick exterior (in high contrast with the rest of the Clifton neighborhood) lead you inside to its spacious cafe with ample seating or its massive covered patio, where you can enjoy drip coffee and specialty drinks along with a select few local ales and wines.

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13. Red Hot Roasters 1403 Lexington Rd, Louisville, KY 40206 (Highlands)

You shouldn't have any trouble spotting this cute little coffee shack from afar, its bright red-orange exterior should lead you to it just fine. In its interior shop and at its drive-thru window, you'll immediately feel transported by 1950s-inspired decor and packaging (see the staple bright red coffee cans). Beloved owner and founder Sondra Powell sources only organic beans, and coffee here is roasted fresh and on the spot. The don't-miss menu items here are the bottled cold brews, specifically, the red velvet flavor with its blend of chocolate and vanilla flavors.

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