Calling all Vegas local caffeine addicts! Assemble! For those of you that don’t drink coffee, sadly nothing in this guide will make sense to you. For the rest of you who are a walking hazard when you haven’t had your morning coffee, this will all be a symphony of caffeine to your ears.
For people like us, coffee is life. Sure, there are other things that are important like our jobs, spouses, and kids, but nothing seems to compare to a good cup of coffee. However, finding the best cup of coffee in town can sometimes be a challenge. With new shops popping up all over the place, you never know what you’re going to be getting, and sometimes that’s just a risk you aren’t willing to take.
Sure, you can take the easy route and hit a Starbucks in town (yes, that’s a map of all the Starbucks in town for those of you that like the safe and easy route) or you can take the chance and try out that new trendy spot that just opened up down the street.
Thankfully, there is a third option! Learn from our mistakes. We’ve scoured the town and tried just about every cup of coffee and have compiled our thoughts into this handy dandy guide specifically made for Vegas locals. And since coffee is sometimes so opinion based, we’ve talked to our members and other local “experts” and “aficionados” and gotten their tips, tricks, and recommendations to let you know where to go in town to get an awesome cup of coffee.
If you’re hurting for a cup right now, put down the sharp objects and we will have you taken care of here in just a few minutes. Buckle up and let’s talk coffee in Las Vegas.
What Makes a Great Coffee Spot?
We would never expect you to believe our recommendations or frankly anything we had to say if we didn’t explain what we thought made a great coffee spot. Vegas is an interesting city with lots of options for everything (including coffee). Because of that, it’s important to nail down what we think makes a great coffee spot.
If you’re a new coffee drinker or maybe a coffee drinker beholden to the Starbucks gods, you may not be aware of what all there is when you venture away from the bright green light. This should help you open your eyes and see what all there is to take advantage of in the world.
The Basic Cup of Coffee
No matter what crazy cup of caramel java double whip mocha dance machine type of coffee you order, the greatest barometer of a great coffee spot will always be their basic cup of coffee. If the “boring” cup of coffee is great, chances are the rest of the fancy options are going to be great as well. If the basic cup is lacking, it’s usually all downhill from there.
For us, we want a basic cup of coffee with a lot of flavor that still goes down smooth. It should taste fresh and not like it came from a can at the grocery store. A lot of this is hard to put into words, but if you’ve drank as much coffee as we have, it’s just something you will know right away when the brew hits your lips.
The Fancy Options
There is no denying that we now live in a world where a basic cup of coffee is just not enough for a lot of people. While this upsets a lot of the old timers and the classic coffee fans, we’ve decided to accept it and embrace it. There’s nothing wrong with options especially if it brings more people into our world. The bigger the coffee industry, the more companies will spend to innovate, which means the better coffee will continue to get.
We look for places that offer a lot of options that make sense. We aren’t just looking for the number of options available, but the number of sensible options. If you have 800 different flavors to add into the coffee, that’s great, but it means nothing if you don’t have the basic upgrade options to go with it.
It also means nothing if quality is sacrificed in the name of options. Each option better be just as good or better than the simpler one that comes before it. Fancy is fine as long as you keep things up to par.
A great cup of coffee is the first step to a great coffee spot. Yes, it’s the most important but a close second is the atmosphere of the coffee shop. This is one area where a little bit of personal preference is going to come into play. Some people are going to like coffee spots that are fast-paced and set up to be social and some people are going to like spots that are quieter and a bit more reserved in how they operate.
Regardless, the atmosphere should make you feel at home. It should be clean, well-organized, and make you want to stay for a second cup.
Location and atmosphere are actually completely different things. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re risking your life when you’re going to pull into a coffee spot. We’ve actually seen some in town that require you to make left hand turns across 80 lanes of traffic behind a blind curve. Ok, maybe we’re exaggerating a little bit but you get the idea.
The coffee spot should be in a popular part of town and be easily accessible without having to risk your life. We’re a big fan of traffic lights especially because our fellow Vegas drivers aren’t always the best. That’s the nice way of putting it.
Strip vs. Off the Strip
As is the big question with just about everything in Vegas, do you want a coffee spot on the strip or off the strip? As is the answer to this question almost every single time…you want to go somewhere off the strip. That being said, there are some instances where you might be interested in checking out a place on the strip. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
On the Strip
If you’re someone who loves busy coffee shops and likes to people watch, the Vegas strip spots might be best for you. If you’re looking for a place to meet people or seem some colorful characters, the strip coffee spots will feel like a gold mine to you.
The quality of most spots on the strip is going to be good as well. Of most of the places we’ve been, we haven’t had a bad cup of coffee yet. There are some places that haven’t been anything special, but none of them have been bad.
The problem is, as usual, you are going to pay for this. The average cup of coffee on the strip is several dollars more than the off strip locations. Even the ever popular Starbucks locations on the strip are going to be more expensive.
Frankly, for us, we like to stay off the strip but it might be up your alley if you’re looking for high action and fast paced. Sometimes these type spots are great for meeting people or even for motivating you to work harder (or at least feel like one of those cool people with their laptop working hard and “closing big deals”).
Off the Strip
As expected (or most likely expected if you’re a seasoned local), the off strip locations are less expensive, less insane with traffic, and overall are going to have a lot more character. You’ll have a lot more places that aren’t chains and are more of the mom and pop type locations (except younger).
People watching and the ability to meet people is still high at a lot of locations that are higher traffic; it’s just not as crazy as the strip. The good news is that anyone you meet at these locations will most likely be a local and not leaving in a day or two (unless that’s what you’re looking for).
The drawback is that a handful of the places off of the strip just aren’t that great. They may have a great cup of coffee but the location and the atmosphere might be terrible. They might have a great atmosphere and a cool concept, but the coffee will make you want to barf. Thankfully, you’ve got us and our members to do your homework for you.
Spoiler alert, most of our recommendations are going to be off strip locations.
Just How Social
Some people ONLY care about how good their coffee is and could not care less at all if it’s served from a beautiful castle or straight out of the back of a station wagon. For these people, coffee is a grab and go affair, and the quality of the brew is everything.
For some people, coffee is an experience. It’s a social event or a morning/afternoon/evening ritual that they partake in every day. If you fall into this category, it’s important to you to have a venue to foster that environment. It’s important to either have a place filled with people and easy ways to meet them or enough forms of entertainment to help you attract friends and family to join you for coffee.
How do coffee spots in Vegas make things more entertaining? They have comfy couches and chairs, they offer books and things to read, they offer board games, they have live music, and sometimes they even have scheduled events to entertain you. These places are the crème de la crème of social.
Which of these two is better? The answer is it all depends on what you prefer. If you’re a social butterfly, you’re going to want a certain type of spot. If you’re an anti-social…moth?...not sure what the opposite of a social butterfly is. Regardless, if you don’t care about the social aspect, you’re going to want a place with a great cup of coffee that gets you in and out quickly. Places with drive-thrus might be right up your alley.
Don’t worry; we look at places that fit both molds in our recommendations below.
(Click the logo for more information at their website)
Grouchy John's is a surprisingly friendly place for such an anti-social name. Their coffee is pretty incredible and they crush it in the options department. They have a lot of different teas, bullet-proof coffee, and their "regular" cup of coffee is incredible. For those of you looking for a quick in and out, they have a drive thru that never get's very backed up. If you're looking for a social good time, they have a ton of board games and books to use and they just opened a separate back room for more space for you to mingle.
They're open from 5 am to 9 pm every day of the week (and we just found out their drive thru is open 24 hours a day now). They do also have a mobile station that moves around and sets up shop places on the weekend. It's hard to miss because it's bright yellow.
8520 S Maryland Pkwy Suite #100
Las Vegas, NV 89123
If you're coming from Vegas heading west, get off at Maryland Parkway and once you actually get on Maryland (takes a few quick turns), it will be up ahead on your right. GPS might be your friend the first time you look for this place if you aren't familiar with it.
(Click the logo for more information at their website)
Madhouse Coffee has got some great coffee but they also have some killer bakery items to go along with the food. A few things you need to know before you go to this one of our favorites. First, the coffee sizes are huge. Make sure to order a little bit smaller sizes unless you're in the mood for a coffee overload (which is totally ok!). The inside of the location is a little smaller and is set up more for a "bring your own friends" kind of place.
While the inside might be a little smaller than some of the other places on our list, they do have some outdoor seating that is great if the weather is right (definitely not anywhere within 100 miles of summertime).
Biggest perk, though? They are open 24 hours a day.
8470 W Desert Inn Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89117
This one is pretty easy to find as it's just a stone's throw away from Desert Breeze Park (that's the huge one on the west side of town). On certain days when the weather cooperates, it can be really nice to go here, grab a coffee, and then head over to the park and walk around. If you have a pup as well, the park has a great dog park that is always full of friendly puppers.