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Coronet Cafe (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

Foodie 15: Your Guide to Coffee Shops in Downtown Tucson

Updated March 25, 2024

With the news that Starbucks is opening in the iconic Chicago Music Store downtown, we thought it might be a good time to remind you of two things:

  1. There are already lots of great locally-owned coffee shops within walking distance, and
  2. 50-75% more money stays in our local economy when you shop — or in this case drink — local, which then circulates within our community, creating what’s known as the “Local Multiplier Effect,” fueling long-term economic strength and resilience (and also makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside)

Tucson Foodie focuses all of our guides and articles on locally-owned restaurants, coffee shops, bars, artisans, and more. It’s core to our underlying mission and purpose. After all, we’re an independent locally-owned business, too. When you read our content, join Insiders, buy a Passport, or attend our dinners and festivals, you not only support us, you directly support all the locally-owned food and beverage businesses in Tucson that quite literally make Tucson, Tucson. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Learn how we create our guides here.

a person holding a burrito on a plate
Breakfast Burrito at Barista del Barrio (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Barista Del Barrio

Barista Del Barrio might be a little too far to walk from Congress, but it’s one of my favorite spots. There’s a reason there’s a line 30 people deep at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Their drinks warm your heart and their breakfast burritos are arguably the best in Tucson. Barista Del Barrio sits in a historic house that’s very Tucson, full of adorable seating areas and random murals to explore.

Café con Leche

Venturing just a few minutes from downtown by car or a nice walk through historic Armory Park is American Eats Co., a food court with lots of yummy options including Café con Leche. I recommend the Mexican Mocha Latte and a donut.

a picture of a coffee shop
Caffe Luce on Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Luce – Congress

Just steps from the Chicago Music Store, Caffe Luce is an excellent spot to get some work done in a quiet space right within the heart of downtown Tucson. It’s one of my go-to selections for meetings. Their tea selection is just as good as their coffee, their food game always is on point, and the smiles from the staff are the biggest in town.

a store front at day
(Photo courtesy of Cartel Roasting Co. on Broadway)

Cartel Roasting Co.

The Tucson Foodie core team can often be seen meeting here. The baristas are kind, the Matcha Latte is fantastic, the music is great, and — unlike Starbucks — you can always find a seat. Bonus: go when Penelope Pizza is open and grab one of the best pizzas in town.

a vase of flowers on a table
Coronet Cafe (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

Coronet Cafe

My personal go-to. The service is truly the best in town. I love everyone who works here. The atmosphere is so cute I could squeeze it if it were more… tangible. I love grabbing a coffee and a pastry and sitting in the almost-tropical courtyard or snuggling up in their booth rooms to get some work done or catch up with a friend.

Cajeta (Photo courtesy of Dandelion Cafe)

Dandelion Cafe & Bakery

Why not take a stroll through downtown, across El Presidio Plaza, past the Tucson Museum of Art, and over to Dandelion Cafe? Run by the amazing women behind Ceres and Noodies, Dandelion feels like visiting a friend’s house. I like to go here alone.

a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant
(Photo courtesy of Decibel Coffee)

Decibel Coffee Works

Hop on the streetcar, get off at the MSA Annex, and grab a cup of coffee at Decibel. The outdoor area at the Annex is great all year. The chance you’ll bump into someone you know at the Annex exceeds 100%. Decibel also has a serious breakfast and lunch menu, plus soft-serve ice cream.

a cup of coffee on a table
(Photo courtesy of Eleven Cafē)

Eleven Cafē

An often overlooked but very cute coffee shop smack dab in the middle of downtown Tucson, Eleven Cafē is a great spot to grab an espresso. I’ve never waited in line here and the guy behind the counter is quick and kind. It might be the closest thing to one of those espresso spots in Italy where you walk up, toss a euro on the counter, and slam an espresso shot next to a few businessmen in fancy Italian suits. Although I don’t think they accept foreign currency…

EXO Roast Co. & Crisol Bar (Photos by Anna Smirnova)

Exo Roast Co. – Simpson St.

Exo is a surefire place to take both locals and visitors. Their newer spot on Simpson is nestled inside one of the most beautiful historic homes in the barrio I’ve ever seen. Doug and his team at Exo have adorned the place with an amazing collection of mid-century and western furniture and home items, many of which are for sale. Their coffee game is focused on sustainable and ethically-sourced beans and, as you’ll experience, each drink is hand-crafted with love by their wonderful baristas. At night, Exo turns into Crisol Bar, a mezcal bar that also has a limited food menu — that menu is not to be understated. It has provided me with one of the best meals I’ve had in Tucson.

(Photo courtesy of Five To Oh Coffee)

Five to Oh Coffee

Five to Oh is a walk-up counter inside the Pima County Historic Courthouse. The courthouse’s patio is a great place for a meeting or to just sit and read in a quiet urban setting. I’ve enjoyed sipping coffee from Five to Oh while exploring the Southern Arizona Visitors & Heritage Center and the University of Arizona Gem & Mineral Museum.

a picture of a cupcake
Blueberry Cupcake from Heemee Coffee & Bakery (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

HeeMee Coffee + Bakery

HeeMee is just adorable. Seoul-native HeeMee Kim bakes at the cafe with her daughter Angela Kim. HeeMee’s pastries are the result of researching countless Korean, French, and Japanese recipes and adjusting them to her liking. The interior is a modern, minimalist aesthetic featuring white walls with pastel pink and peach-colored accents. Artwork from family and a Los Angeles friend adorn the walls. Go get yourself a coffee and a bingsoo, a Korean dessert made with shaved ice and milk.

(Photo courtesy of Oralia Coffee + Kitchen)

Oralia Coffee + Kitchen

Oralia rotates local roasters. They’ve got all the mochas, lattes, cappuccinos, and simple drip coffee you want, but I recommend ordering a Honey Vanilla Matcha, which is made with ceremonial-grade matcha consisting of antioxidants and l-theanine, giving you the energy boost you want without the jitters.

pouring milk into a latte
Presta Coffee Roasters (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Presta Coffee Roasters – South Avenida del Convento

Inside beautiful Mercado San Agustin is one of Presta’s locations. If you’re me, you grab a donut from La Estrella and a short Americano from Presta and enjoy both while people-watching in the Mercado’s beautiful courtyard.

(Photo courtesy of Roadrunner Coffee Co.)

Roadrunner Coffee Co. – Downtown

Roadrunner Coffee Co. is a hidden gem in Tucson, Arizona, known for its cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. It’s a perfect spot to get some work done, with ample seating and reliable wifi. Their coffee is locally roasted and the menu is full of delicious options, but the standout is their signature Roadrunner Mocha, a delightful blend of chocolate and espresso that will keep you energized for hours.

a kitchen with a table in a restaurant

Savaya Coffee at the Flin

Savaya is serious about quality. All of their coffee beans are organic, single origin, and fair trade. Savaya baristas are trained in all aspects of the seed-to-cup coffee process, but also given creative freedom.

a cup of coffee on a table
(Photo courtesy of Talega Coffee Co.)

Talega Coffee Co.

Talega is just one block off Congress down historic and tree-heavy Scott Avenue. It’s a cute spot with a cute lobby run by a couple of super nice guys. Enjoy your coffee inside or in nearby Owls Club’s courtyard.

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