Our 9 Favorite Independent Coffee Shops in THE BLOCKS

In the 20 years I’ve lived in Utah, Salt Lake City has transformed into a place I hardly recognize.  For starters, the urban landscape is much denser—apartment buildings seem to be springing up overnight these days. And there are many more people living here than did when I rolled into town in 1999 for what I thought would be just one winter of ski bumming. But the biggest difference between Utah’s capitol city then and now is something not so tangible: Salt Lake City has become so darn cool. Case in point: the preponderance of downtown Salt Lake coffee shops. How lucky (and blissfully caffeinated) are we? Following is a rundown of nine of our favorite indie coffee shops in THE BLOCKS—places perfect for sipping a really exceptional cup o’ joe to
chase away that midwinter chill.


Rugged Grounds

This is one of those hole-in-the-wall kind of places where, except for a satisfying avocado toast, the focus is squarely on the brews, all of which are sourced right here in the Beehive State from Utah Valley’s Great Basin Coffee Company, tea from Provo’s Grey Mountain Herbs and SLC’s Rock Canyon Elixirs’ kombucha. Pop in for a quick cup to-go or pause for a moment to soak up Rugged Grounds friendly, hipster vibe by taking a seat on one of the stools at the long bar or on the cozy turquoise sofa next to the vintage piano.
29 E. 400 South; Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Three Pines

Laser-specific attention to detail is the mantra at this mod, airy and oh-so-charming 500-square-foot space on Main Street. There the drip, cold brew and espresso are made with renowned Heart Roasters’ coffee, a company based in coffee capitol, Portland, Oregon. The shop’s healthy following of purists most typically imbibe Three Pines brews straight up. But if you must have milk, rest assured that the lattes (both with espresso and matcha), chai, hot chocolate and mochas are made with high-quality milk from the Hyrum, Utah-based Rosehill Dairy. And, for vegans and dairy adverse, the just-sweet-enough almond milk served at Three Pines is made in house.  When you go, you’ll likely have your bevy made by either Meg or Nick, both musicians turned baristas. Be sure to ask them about their story, as they not only work at this gem of a place, but own it as well.
165 S. Main Street; Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m



Founded in Australia and introduced to Utah by way of Park City, Campos Coffee has seemed to have hit its Utah stride since opening it’s lovely location on Edison Street two years ago. There you can go directly to the barista to get a beverage (made with beans roasted on-site) and then sip it at one of the street-facing bars, equipped with garage-style windows that are raised on warm and sunny days. Or let the host show you to a table, where, along with your coffee, you can indulge in eggs benedict, a panini, the Campos burger or something a little more virtuous, like a salad or avocado toast. On those afternoons when day drinking is in order, have no fear. Campos also serves beer, wine and mimosas.
228 S. Edison, daily, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. 

Nostalgia Cafe 

Though most of us think of coffee as strictly a morning respite, if you’re looking for a warm cup and a bite after a play or concert, this is the place. Open later than any of the other coffee shops on our list, the relaxed vibe, comfy sofas and yummy crepes offer a cozy alternative to hitting the bars at the end of an evening in THE BLOCKS. Don’t overlook Nostalgia during the day, however. An ample coffee and tea drink menu, plenty of breakfast dishes (including vegan pastries), tasty sandwiches and house made soups make Nostalgia a great locale to sit, sip and get a little work done or meet friends for lunch.
248 E. 100 South; weekdays, 7 a.m.-midnight; Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-midnight 

The People’s Coffee 

You’ll be smitten with this funky little spot after just one visit, where the walls are hung with an off-beat collection of photos and local art, newspapers and interesting novels populate the large communal table in the center of the space (as well as the side tables) and—true story—the baristas are experts at making just the right amount of small talk as well as coffee. On occasional evenings you can listen to live music or a DJ there, too. And the coffee, sourced locally from Caffe Ibis and Publik roasters—is fantastic. Perhaps all this is why in 2017 the peeps behind the Best American Towns rankings named The People’s Coffee the best indie coffee shop in Utah.
221 E. Broadway; weekdays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

La Barba

The power of the little guy was realized in 2018 when this Utah-born-and-raised coffee roaster, La Barba, opened a café in a space just below the clocktower at The Gateway Mall formerly occupied by a Starbucks. La Barba has since turned this small, intimate space into a haven for those who like to geek out about coffee culture. And it goes almost without saying that there you’ll also be treated to one of the best cups of coffee in the state. Period. But don’t worry about not being a connoisseur; the baristas there are unfailingly pleasant, even if you order a skinny peppermint mocha with whipped cream.
9 S. Rio Grande Street; weekdays 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays       


Cupla Coffee 

Meaning twins in Irish Gaelic, Cupla is also an apropos name for a coffee shop owned and operated by twin sisters, Abigail Purdie and Bethany Heath. The sisters roast their own beans, which are all organic, fair trade and shade grown, yielding brews with a very approachable, even gentle, nutty flavor. They also bake all their own pastries, which skew toward gluten-free, low carb, keto friendly and low sugar. But you’d never know it—try the maple-glazed, bacon-topped donut for proof. The Purdie/Heath duo also serve yummy breakfast burritos and sandwiches alongside with their tasty brews and sweets.
175 E. 200 South, tucked into the basement of the Axis Building; Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.


Salt Lake Roasting Co.

When my kids were toddlers, one of my favorite destinations was the Salt Lake Library’s Main Branch. There we’d spend a whole morning running around the grounds and climbing the walkway to the rooftop garden. But with each visit, I always made time to go inside so that, while the kids entertained themselves by hanging out in the “ice” cave or turning the pages of picture books, I could sit on the floor leafing through magazines, gratefully sipping a cup of Salt Lake Roasting Co. coffee. I recently visited this in-library coffee shop—run by the city’s oldest coffee roaster, incidentally—when I had some time to kill between meetings. I happily found it just as I remember: lovely house made pastries, a bright and clean setting and really good coffee.
210 E. 400 South, inside the Salt Lake City Library; Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.


The Rose Establishment

The Rose (as it is most often referred) is the standard by which all other coffee shops in Salt Lake City are measured. Modern, inviting atmosphere? Check. House made pastries? Check. Responsibly sourced, expertly roasted coffee? Check. Convenient location, reason to come back for lunch, serves wine, too? Check, check and check. What’s more, the Rose uses produce and herbs grown in its rooftop garden to inform all of its menus—coffee and tea included. The obvious thoughtfulness and careful attention to detail there are a welcome reprieve from what feels like a continuously homogenous world. If you’re looking for a glimpse of how much Salt Lake City has grown up over the last decade, make a visit to the Rose Establishment.
235 S. 400 West; Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Written by Melissa Fields