There's a lot of good places to find coffee in Des Moines - from chains like Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, or Caribou to convenient stores like Casey's, Kum & Go, and Qwik Trip. I've been known to frequent all of them.
However, when possible, I like to support local places. Local coffee shops tend to have a lot of character, are willing to experiment with unique offerings, and become work meet-ups for creative types and side hustlers.
One of the best local spots in downtown Des Moines is Java Joes. Located on 4th Street between the historic Kirkwood Hotel and Hotel Randolph (now both filled with apartments and condos), Java Joes is also connected to the 4th Street Theatre, which has morphed into a hub for local comedy.
Once inside, you'll discover that Java Joe's is a cozy environment where you can come to read a book, work on homework or a side hustle, play a board game, enjoy a tasty meal or beverage, conduct a small business meeting, or simply catch up with an old friend.
There's a lot of great decor and seating options throughout and the distressed wood floors give it a real authentic feel that you simply cannot replicate.
If you need something other than free wifi, there's board games and even a little area for kids to play.
Java Joes roasts their own coffee beans and the equipment is near the front door to your left as you walk in.
Of course, you can get more than coffee (or coffee beverages) when you order at their counter. The serve tea, ice cream, food (both hot and cold), and even adult beverages. They also regularly have specials and new and interesting flavors.
I chose to combine the best of both words and got a coffee shake. Essentially, they take some espresso and mixed it with vanilla ice cream. It was legit!
Maybe you just want some merchandise or an old burlap sack that once held the coffee beans before they were shipped? They have that too.
The 4th Street Theatre has become a hub for local comedy and other performances. During the run-up to the last few Iowa presidential caucuses, it became the home for MSNBC's Morning Joe. There are some photos on the wall that show some of the famous patrons and guests that have walked through the door.
A local improv comedy group Pants? was performing and charging a $5 cover fee. The proceeds were going to be benefiting the Animal Rescue League, which is a great place to adopt your new pet best friend.
Though many local comedy groups, including Kitten Bomb, Drunk Book Club, History Made Up, Alien Head Emoji, The Travelers, and more are currently utilizing the space, they offer the venue has a place for many types of events.
Next time you are in downtown Des Moines and looking for a good cup of coffee or a delicious scoop of ice cream, consider a visit to Java Joes. They offer a lot that a chain competitor just cannot match.