Exploring The Coffee Community In Lexington, Kentucky

11 min read APR 28, 2023

Lexington is often nationally associated with the University of Kentucky, or the 8 time NCAA champion Wildcats, but this city is known globally for another animal, horses!

In fact, Lexington is widely referred to as the horse capital of the world.

This is why when you think of Lexington, Kentucky, especially in the spring, your mind is likely filled with thoughts of mint juleps, classy attire, and frilly hats.

Though the Kentucky Derby takes place in Louisville, Lexington not only houses some of the world’s most incredible derby champions, it’s also home to the Keeneland Race Track, a stunning must-see for visitors and locals alike.

But, while the mint julep may be the official Keeneland cocktail, there’s another beverage that can easily be found throughout this historic town.

Yes, Lexington’s rural countryside is beautifully dotted with stunning horse farms seemingly suited for royalty, but within its historic city limits, while it’s no Seattle or Portland, believe it or not, there’s a vibrant coffee culture to explore.

I guess it goes to show, coffee culture is truly everywhere. Of course it is! Considering the popularity of this beverage, it’s hard not to find this bean running through the thread of most any town, even just outside of the world’s most notable horse farms!

A Cafe On Every Corner

Walking through the streets of downtown Lexington you’ll likely hear one of two conversation topics, horses or basketball.

Of course, there may be a bit of info about the ever changing weather and the best place to grab a bite to eat as well, but it’s also safe to say each passer-by will be holding a mug (to-go or otherwise) as they stroll the city streets.

Why? Because you can’t get far in this city without running into a one of a kind, unique coffee shop or cafe.

As we mentioned above, Lexington isn’t ripe with a history of java trade, but that doesn't make them any less of a contender when it comes to coffee.

In fact, there’s seemingly, as the above subheading suggests, a cafe on every corner.

Once we added the roasters located in the heart of this horsetown, we stopped counting at more than 25 locations in roughly a 12 mile radius. And, this doesn’t include those cafes with multiple locations. (A few, as you’ll soon see, have found it necessary to expand their local endeavors.)

Now, that’s a city that loves coffee!

And, while I’d love to explore all 25+ locations with you, it’s probably best to narrow things down a bit for time’s sake.

However, be sure to check out the locations listed within the last section, as some of the cafes that don’t make this list will be included when we explore how Lexington coffee shops dedicate an entire week to celebrating their beloved brews with fun and creative offerings all across the city!

1- Coffee Times Coffee House

Having had the pleasure of visiting this establishment, we’ll start here. When you arrive at Coffee Times, even before you step inside you’re greeted with the overwhelmingly pleasant aroma of coffee.

There are two parts to this shop, a place to buy beans in bulk, with single origin offerings like Haitian Blue and Brazil Santos by the pound, their Lexington’s Finest and Big Blue blends, or flavored selections such as Bourbon Ball and Caramel Pecan.

The other side of the shop is as cozy as it comes, offering lounge seating and rustic tables where you can order local favorites like fair trade organic brews straight from the left side of the shop, a wide variety of fraps and smoothies, teas, espresso classics, even locally made pastries to enjoy alongside your mug contents.

2- Third Street Stuff And Coffee

Locally roasted, certified organic, fair trade coffee served in a funky little shop…no seriously, they agree with that description.

Eccentric, funky, unique, and voted best cup of coffee by Business Insider and Ace’s Weekly, Third Street Stuff offers unique gift selections while serving up local baked goods, loose leaf teas, a variety of hot chocolates, and everything from Ethiopian to Peruvian and Guatemalan brews.

3- Lussi Brown Coffee Bar

For strong coffee in the morning and a smooth coffee cocktail later in the day, Lussi Brown is the place to stop.

This coffee bar is small, but quaint, and their house made syrups, like their lavender and honey or their bourbon-smoked caramel, add a little something extra to their brews.

Their specialty coffee drinks, such as the young grasshopper (creme de menthe, white chocolate, milk and espresso) rotate seasonally, but their standard beverages include a variety of espresso based drinks.

Lussi’s coffee cocktails include a cold fashioned, incorporating cold brew of course, other seasonal options, and classics like the delicious coffee infused white Russian, espresso martini, and Irish coffee.

4- Brevede Coffee Shop & Bakery

Offering nitro coffee, pour overs, Americanos, lattes, affogatos, and more, Brevede Coffee is owned by the Kopets family, Nik and Viorika.

Moving to the US when they were young, the couple grew up, met, and started their family in Washington state before moving to Kentucky to see their dream of opening a coffee shop come to fruition.

The couple states that after moving to Lexington and experiencing the bursting, vibrant coffee scene, they knew they were in the right place at the right time!

Located in the Pepper Distillery District, Brevede Coffee is surrounded by many Lexington favorites including a few breweries, an ice cream lounge, a couple live music hubs (The Burl and Manchester Music Hall), and multiple food and beverage attractions.

5- A Cup Of Commonwealth

A beautiful location in downtown Lexington, right across from Thoroughbred Park, A Cup Of Commonwealth found its home in the Bluegrass in 2013.

Their motto is: embrace community, serve others, create culture. And, with each locally roasted brew served, this is what Salvador and his team do.

Their brewed coffee is delicious, they offer a wide variety of fantastic espresso based classics, and locals rave about their pour-overs.

But, one thing we really loved about A Cup Of Commonwealth is the kindness they regularly serve with their pay-it-forward option to buy a cup of joe in advance for someone in need.

6- Common Grounds Coffee House

Common Grounds has been a Lexington staple since 1992. And, though they started small, this coffee house is now the largest locally owned coffee business in Lexington, with locations all across the city.

As their team now roasts coffee too, you can expect a fresh and delicious cup every time.

From their sweet selections like their specialty mochas and espresso frappes, to their fresh roasted coffee and classic espresso offerings, you can enjoy your coffee as a daily brew or a decadent dessert.

Locals love that the café remains traditional with a focus on classic, but delicious, coffee.

7- North Lime Coffee And Donuts

Coffee and donuts, is there a better pair? Teddy, Heidi, and Joe, the owners of North Lime, certainly don’t think there is!

Serving locally roasted Nate’s Coffee in a variety of offerings such as butter coffee, cold brew, their Limestone Specialty lattes, and multiple espresso based drinks such as their dolce veloce, a 4 ounce layered drink made of vanilla syrup, half and half, and espresso, you can’t go wrong with North Lime.

And, their donut selection…all made from scratch, in house, both yeast and cake options, as well as multiple creative choices that make it onto the menu, each pairing perfectly with a delicious cup of joe.

Due to their overwhelming success, they’ve opened a second location, but if you’re ever in Lexington, I highly recommend their original location (corner of West Loudon Ave and North Limestone St) to get that true downtown feel, complete with cozy chairs, and local art displays.

8- Broomwagon Bikes And Cafe

Bikes, coffee, beer, and food…a seemingly odd combination that works quite well in horse country.

Broomwagon primarily offers espresso based drinks such as a doppio espresso, the classic Americano, cafe au lait, etc, but they also offer a wide variety of smoothie options which locals like to add their Magic Beans Broomwagon Blend espresso to by the shot.

As they offer food selections too, there’s plenty of space to hang out and relax throughout the day while you enjoy your brew with breakfast or lunch inside or out on a picnic table on their large patio.

9- Chocolate Holler

Come for the coffee, or decadently thick and rich ho-cho, stay…for hours on end!

There’s even a well-used stack of board games in the corner where patrons have enjoyed countless moments with friends laughing and enjoying life…seriously, the game of Life, over a cup of joe!

Their cold brew shakers, espresso shakes, and affogatos are great, but here’s a chocolatey tip from locals:

Chocolate Holler offers sippable chocolate, thick beverages made by melting pieces of chocolate bars hand crafted from chocolatiers all across the US in steamed milk.

And, locals suggest ordering a sipping chocolate to combine with a few shots of espresso. Now, doesn’t that sound divine!

10- Old School Coffee

Old School Coffee offers at atmosphere like no other, located in an “old school,” formerly Public School #3 from 1881-1925, this piece of history turned cafe has old charm with a new age design.

Their motto at Old School Coffee is simple: sourced fair, brewed right, served fast.

When you stop in, you’ll find pastries sourced from local bakeries and java options with schoolhouse themed names such as the teacher, which includes honey and vanilla flavors, the dropout, which includes a whopping 5 shots of espresso combined with milk chocolate and vanilla, and the principal, which adds a bit of white chocolate and hazelnut to their delicious brew.

Bonus- Starbucks

Yes, there’s a Starbucks or two or three (or more) within Lexington as well.

But, the one we’d like to highlight is located within the University of Kentucky campus which houses the (now) second largest Starbucks in the country, seating more than 300.

According to UK students, their SEC rival, the University of Alabama, just took first place adding additional square footage to their campus Starbucks, which obviously incited visions of remodeling amongst UK’s architects.

We’re not sure if they’re serious or kidding, but let’s just say we wouldn’t be surprised to find that increase in square footage on the fall semester priority list.

Bean Scene Celebrations

With a selection as grand as we’ve just sampled, it’s no wonder the Lexington coffee scene found its love for this beloved bean to be a cause for celebration.

Several years ago, Lexington began a trend known as burger week, an entire week in July where local restaurants concocted their best burger ideas, and locals hit up as many dives, bars, and diners to sample the city’s best beef (complete with poultry and vegan options too, of course).

But, it didn’t take long for the coffee crowd in the city to say…challenge accepted!

And thus, coffee week was born!

If you’re planning to be in the area, this year coffee week in Lexington is set for May 7-13.

And, while they’re keeping this year’s creations under wraps for now, take a look at last year’s hits to both tantalize your taste buds and get some creative ideas for at home brews.

  • 2022 Lexington Coffee Week knocked it out of the park with an Iced Blackberry Mocha, nicknamed The Jam, from Kenwick Table.

  • Broomwagon Coffee And Bikes went for something unique and spicy with their Coconut Curry Latte, made with curry infused coconut milk, Broomwagon blend espresso, and Thai basil.

  • Genesis Coffee served up Meadowthorpe’s Million Dollar Latte featuring espresso, steamed milk, and toffee flavoring over ice, topped with whipped cream, caramel, Heath bar pieces, and edible gold foil pieces.

  • Nate’s Coffee served up mocha-infused espresso jello shots topped with freshly whipped heavy cream and sprinkled with a fine dusting of cocoa and espresso powders as well as salted caramel jello shots with freshly whipped cream and a caramel drizzle sprinkled with flaky sea salt and turbinado sugar.

  • Common Grounds Coffee House also went the dessert route, which inspired their Tiramisu Latte complete with espresso, chocolate, irish cream, Kahlua and house-made espresso whipped cream topped with a dash of cocoa.

Some other offerings from the week included:

  • McLeod’s Belgian Waffle latte
  • Leestown Coffee’s Fruity Pebbles Cold Brew made with taro root syrup
  • North Lime’s Baklavatte, aka a pistachio honey latte with a honey drizzle
  • Bad Ass Coffee’s Island Truffle Latte
  • Old School Coffee’s Banana Pudding Cold Brew topped with homemade banana pudding cold foam
  • Human Bean’s iced, hot, or blended Ghirardelli Caramel Cookie Coconut Mocha
  • High On Art And Coffee’s Lavender Honey Latte topped with homemade honey whipped cream
  • Manchester Coffee Co’s Manchester Mai Tai made with their house made cold brew, lime, and a mint orgeat

Is your mouth watering too?

Lexington not only houses some of the coziest, one of a kind, coffee houses, they really know how to up their recipe game when it comes to coffee week concoctions!

So, if you’re in the mood for southern hospitality, amazingly beautiful horse farms, and some seriously great coffee, head to Lexington, KY to tour their extensive selection of cafes, coffee houses, and Kentucky pride.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Embolden Dark Roast.


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