Yelp reviews can be pretty hit or miss but one in particular from 2015 seemed to sum up Rustic Brew pretty well. It simply read, "This little place embraces both meanings of 'Brew'! Fresh brewed coffee in the morning and house-brewed beer in the evenings."
However, there is much more to Hampton's coffee shop and micro-brewery than just coffee and beer. Rustic Brew also happens to excel at all kinds of food dishes and is a great small-town meeting place that is loaded with quirky small-town charm.
Growing up in Northwest Iowa, my parents and I used to travel Highway 3 (getting on at Cherokee) in order to get to Cedar Falls where two of my three siblings graduated from college. Admittedly, four-lane Highway 20 has now changed that calculus but we used pass through and would often stop somewhere in Franklin County. That era was all before 2013, which is when Rustic Brew opened. However, had Rustic Brew been open then, I'm quite certain it would have been a regular pit stop during our regular cross-state jaunts.
The story behind the birth of this great small business traces back to two married couples that includes four very talented individuals - all with their own specialty. I always love the stories of how businesses get launched and how smart people put their heads together to make something great happen.
Over the past few years, Iowa Adventurer has heard a lot of great things about Rustic Brew and thus I was overdue for a visit. That visit finally happened in late Fall of 2020. I drove up from West Des Moines on a Saturday morning and it was my first stop of an otherwise jam-packed day of adventuring around North Iowa. Rustic Brew is located in the downtown business district of Hampton. It's about a block north of the Franklin County Courthouse and about two blocks north of the Hampton City Park.
It has a home in an old brick commercial building that I am sure has to be more than a century old. They don't make buildings like this any more and I'm always glad to see these buildings in good condition and being put to their best use.
Once inside, you immediately discover that this is no ordinary bland coffee house or café. This place has some personality! From floor to ceiling, there's something interesting going on.
Colorful artwork designs have been painted onto the floor.
The walls are also covered in beautiful indoor murals.
I'm always one to appreciate lighting choices as they can add so much to a space. This particular Tiffany style piece is absolutely gorgeous.
Antique wooden chairs with either a men's hat or a lady's hat have been attached to the wall above each respective door.
An old antique upright piano, as well as some other musical instruments, are awaiting some use in one corner.
I only took six months of piano lessons and failed miserably so it was best that I didn't follow through on the request.
There is what I would call a "back room" that is seems like it might be a good spot for smaller private events.
Prepared food and beverage are clearly the main items for sale at Rustic Brew, but they do have a few other items for sale as well.
Yes, it was morning, and that's a popular time to drink coffee but I'm never one to pass up a chance to try good coffee any time during the day.
The young woman working behind the counter was getting some "just out-of-the-oven" chocolate cookies packaged up and I decided that it was never too early to eat dessert - so I got one of those too. I don't know if my picture conveys it accurately, but it was hot, fresh, and amazing.
I enjoyed these two items while checking out the local advertisements on the placemats and the brochures encouraging commerce and tourism in Hampton.
However, they certainly have much more to offer on their menu than just the cookies and coffee that I enjoyed. It's actually quite an impressive selection, including a large offering of sandwiches. Additionally, they have soups and salads among other delicious delights.
The breadth of their coffee drink menu rivals that of any large chain or urban coffee shop. As you note, they also have tea and even smoothies.
Of course, they are also a microbrewery and have some well-named options. Again, my visit was in the Fall so a few of these look a little Fall-centric. My guess is that they roll out seasonal favorites year-a-round.
I also spotted a cooler for Iowa-based favorite Thelma's Ice Cream sandwiches in the corner.
The cooler is situated amongst all of the fun merchandise for sale as well as the well-placed decorations.
All of these great meals, coffee drinks, and desserts are made behind a large counter.
For me, this was a 20 minute pit-stop to start a full day of adventuring. However, Rustic Brew is the kind of place where you can grab a quick beverage or sandwich or catch up with an old friend for hours. It's also the kind of place that you can find a comfortable chair and work with the help of their free Wi-Fi or meet up with an associate to discuss important business.
The best part is - no matter what time of day you pop in - there's bound to be something good...brewing.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Franklin County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.