The 2016 presidential cycle has officially begun in earnest. Candidates are visiting Iowa and New Hampshire for speeches, glad-handing, and private meetings.
For journalists, for voters, for political consultants, and for the candidates themselves, there is an integral part to this whole process: caffeine.
Let’s just say that the Granite State and the Hawkeye State are known for many things — including, well, nominating presidents — but in the coffee world they aren’t exactly the most sought after states.
It’s easier to find a Pizza Hut in Iowa than it is to find a Starbucks (This is true: Someone has mapped this stuff out). And a woman in Des Moines won $10,000 in a Seattle’s Best Coffee contest with her drink “How to Win a Guy with One Sip” (the concoction involved caramelized bacon and pumps of pumpkin pie spice.)
Interesting. But that wouldn’t win this guy.
In New Hampshire, there are Dunkin’ Donuts in almost every town. Starbucks is spread far and wide as well.
Most places in these early voting states seem to think bigger is better (so expect large coffee mugs, and don’t expect a 6-ounce cappuccino). Most also offer a wide selection of food, in addition to coffee (upside is you can grab lunch or a snack; downside is most places that do lots with food don’t do as well with the coffee).
For coffee snobs, a sure turnoff is a shop with flavor pumps, something many shops here have. But honestly, this is not the time nor place to be snobby. It’s a time to get a good caffeine fix, and some places are quite good and quite unique.
Voters are performing a public service by listening to these candidates and deciding among them. My public service is this list of good coffee haunts. Heaven knows those candidates may need a jolt.
We’ll try to update the list, so send along any other suggestions.
Cafe la Reine: They opened in 2012, so for those who followed the last campaign this may be new. It’s downtown, and aimed at coffee enthusiasts. It was founded by Alexandra Puglisi, who attended Saint Anselm College and wanted to start a coffee-shop community. So expect live music at nights.
915 Elm St.
Republic: To me this is always a place that is a restaurant first, and coffee spot second. But they do have a full coffee and espresso menu.
1069 Elm St.
True Brew Cafe: It has an extensive food menu, promises free Wi-Fi, and also offers a good number of coffee and espresso options. Including, for all the Floridians coming up to New Hampshire this cycle, a Cortadito (espresso, Cuban style).
The Works Bakery Cafe: Good breakfast spot, and coffee served in cups up to 20 ounces (also has locations in Keene, Durham, and Portsmouth).
42 N. Main St.
White Mountain Gourmet Coffee: They offer 12 varieties of coffee.
Frontside Coffee Roasters: It has been at it since 1998, and this is perhaps the best option in the state. The shop roasts its own coffee and has a great menu.
Breaking New Grounds: Good spot in Market Square, in the center of town. It was founded in 1993 and roasts its beans in-house.
4 Market Square
Port City Coffee Roasters: It is roasting coffee at least three days a week, and it claims to have 45 different varieties.
801 Islington St.
Book & Bar: Plenty going on here, with a selection of beer, wine, and food (and books!). But there’s also a nice coffee menu, offering cappuccinos, flat whites, and cold brew coffee.
40 Pleasant St.
163 Islington St.
Popovers on the Square: There’s a good range of coffee drinks here, but they are secondary to the namesake of the place. Get the popovers, with coffee on the side (also has a location in Epping).
8 Congress St.
Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar: Staff here says they use an “old school Turkish drum roaster” and work in small batches to ensure their organic and fair trade coffee is fresh. It also has plenty of food and, as the name implies, music.
35 Railroad Square
Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure: It has a great coffee selection, and nice atmosphere. Perfect place for breakfast and a brew of the day.
Mars cafe: Good spot at the edge of Drake University. It is serving Kickapoo Coffee out of Wisconsin, and does pour-overs in a Chemex or V-60. It also has espresso-based drinks, food, and ample seating. One of the best coffee spots in the city.
Ritual Cafe: Good low-key spot near the park downtown.
The Village Bean: Nice coffee and espresso drinks not far from the State Capitol.
305 E. 5th St.
Scenic Route: For those who were last here in 2012, this is a new addition. It serves up Chicago-based Intelligentsia beans, a good sign. Also offers pastries and a lunch menu.
350 E. Locust St.
Java Joe’s Coffehouse: Good option downtown, with coffee roasted daily and served in cups ranging in size from 6 ounces to 20 ounces. An artsy cafe with a wide food and ice cream selection.
214 4th St.
Brewed Awakenings: Perhaps the best option here. It serves up PT’s Coffee out of Topeka, Kansas. Also has lunch options.
1271 1st Ave. SE
Coffeesmiths: Good local option, which opened in 2004. Shops are cozy, with a fireplace. They also have gelato and desserts, sandwiches, and salads.
2300 Edgewood Road SW
The Java House: This is the local chain here, with seven stores spread around this college town. The chain has been open since 1994, founded by University of Iowa student Tara Cronbaugh (who drew inspiration from the San Francisco area coffee scene). The coffee selection is good, with brew bars.
211½ E. Washington St.
1575 S. First Ave.
713 Mormon Trek Blvd.
150 Stevens Dr.
Burgie’s Coffee: Has a nice selection of coffee (and tea).
110 Airport Road
1111 Duff Ave.
Stomping Grounds: In addition to coffee, has outdoor seating, Wi-Fi, and food.
301 Welch Ave.
Pierce Street Coffee Works: Nice range of coffee drinks, from french press to cafe au lait to Cappuccino. It also has sandwiches and salads.
1920 Pierce St.
Uncle Nancy’s: Coffeehouse with a range of espresso drinks, also offering smoothies and sandwiches.
114 N. 2nd Ave. W
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.