Central Illinois isn’t known for much more than farmland, Caterpillar equipment, and soybeans. It is not the world’s most thrilling place to live. Summers are hot (like really hot) and winters are cold (like really, really cold) and there is about ten days total in the entire year where you could use the word perfect to describe the weather. Summer activities generally range from shopping at Peoria’s mall, going to one of the towns’ public pools, and maybe catching a movie at your closest theater. In the winter … well you just try to stay warm. All of this being said, I do love living in central Illinois; I have grown to appreciate it even more after going to a larger city for college. One thing that I do think central Illinois does really well (even better than big cities, in my opinion) is cute, social coffee shops. Almost every small town in the area has at least one, and each boasts its own charming atmosphere and ample menu. I am somewhat of a coffee aficionado, if I do say so myself, and my favorite drinks come from these small local shops. If you ever find yourself in central Illinois, make sure to check out one of these coffee shops!
1. Eli's Coffee Shop
Eli's has locations in Morton, Tremont, and Metamora. As a hometown Morton girl myself, it is my favorite coffee shop on the list. It boasts an amazing list of signature drinks (make sure to try the Iced Boho!) plus snack and dessert options that will make your mouth water. I also love the atmosphere -- it's a great place to hang out and catch up with friends and has good outdoor and indoor spaces. I also find it a great place to study and catch up on work.
2. Leaves 'N Beans Coffee
You can visit Leaves 'n Beans in both Morton and Peoria Heights. The Morton is a great local coffee shop to visit on-the-go because it has a drive thru. But if you have more time to spend to hang out, both the Morton and Peoria locations have great places to spend the day. I also love to stop by LnB for a meal; they have great sandwiches and salads! If you love their coffee products, you can also visit their Store and Roastery in their other Peoria Heights location near Trefzgers Bakery!
3. Breaking Grounds
Breaking Grounds is the newest edition to Morton's coffee scene. (Who knew such a small town could have so many coffee options!) They just opened in 2017 and therefore are still working on adding items to their menu; however, if you find yourself in Morton, I encourage you to try it out!
Thirty-Thirty is a Peoria coffee classic, and I've been stopping in since I was in high school at PND. They have two locations, one in downtown Peoria and one in Junction City. They have several different brews of coffee to try out, and each one is delicious! It's a great place to spend an afternoon reading or stop by for boost of caffeine during your busy day!
5. The Blend
The Blend is Washington's addition to this CI coffee list. I discovered it two summers ago and immediately fell in love. It's a bit of a drive from my life in Morton, but well worth it. I stop there every time I'm in Washington. The Café has a great atmosphere and a large space to sit with friends, plus booths great for work. If you don't have time to get out of your car, the Blend Express is nearby so you can drive thru to get your drink!
6. Zion Coffee Bar
Zion is another specialty local coffee company with a variety of blends and brews for you to try! Their location in the Warehouse District in downtown Peoria has a beautiful interior with both an upstairs loft and downstairs sitting area in which to enjoy your drink. Their menu also includes a lot of other beverages than just coffee and is continuing to expand, so it's a must stop!
7. One World Café
I had to include One World Café on my list, even though it is not strictly a coffee shop. Located on Bradley's campus in Peoria, One World has a fairly extensive coffee menu plus a full food menu which can be ordered as take-out or dine-in. It is one of my favorite places to eat in central Illinois, and I stop in every time I am home on a break. My personal favorite is to pair a coffee with their hummus and pita appetizer; it's AMAZING!
8. Le Bakery
If you're having a sweet tooth attack, Le Bakery in Washington is the place you need to stop. Predominantly a bakery, Le Bakery also has a fairly extensive list of coffee options to choose from. So not only can you get an Iced Coffee, but you can pair it with a cookie, slice of cake, or a whole cake if you're feeling it!
So, if you find yourself in Central Illinois and are in need of a morning boost or an afternoon hang out, check out one of these amazing coffee shops! I sure plan on it this summer!