14* Coffee Shops Locals Love

coffee grounds in the shape of a heart on a gray wooden table

Coffee shops date back to the 17th century. They were frequented by people from all levels of society, from artists to intellectuals to politicians. That’s still the case, except now there are really cool features like electricity and Wi-Fi to enrich the café experience.

Today, coffee shops are more than a place to get your caffeine fix. They’ve evolved into hubs for social interaction, networking and productivity. Along with the delightful aroma of freshly brewed java, coffee shops offer a sense of community and connection. Just look how close Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe and Joey were. It’s because they hung out at Central Perk every day for ten straight years. In fact, they loved it there so much they hardly ever went to work.

Greater Peoria may not have a Central Perk, but we have several terrific spots to grab a cup of joe, delicious food and cozy vibes. Here are 14* Coffee Shops Locals Love.

*Bonus: There are more than 14 because some businesses have multiple locations.

Zion Coffee Bar

Location: Downtown Peoria (Historic Warehouse District)

It’s everything you want in a coffee shop. Barista expertise. Beautiful décor. A warm, modern, inviting atmosphere. And, of course, top-tier coffee — from the espresso to the caramelized vanilla bean latte to the nitro cold brew.

Zion’s mission is to advance the lives of small coffee farmers. That’s why they purchase their coffee through a direct-trade model to individual farmers, paying a fair price for their hard work and excellent crops.

You Gotta Try: You can’t go wrong with the kimchi-avocado toast or yogurt bowl. Also, we highly recommend you grab a mirror selfie by the bathrooms to document your visit. It’s a Zion tradition.

angled shot of the front of Zion Coffee Bar
Leaves ‘n Beans Coffee

Locations: Peoria Heights, Morton, Pekin

It’s a good thing there are three locations because locals love themselves some Leaves ‘n Beans. With quaint and cozy vibes, it’s an ideal spot to visit with friends, get some work done or crack open your favorite book.

Plus, they have a store and roastery, so you can buy some merch to rep or whole-bean coffee to take home — expertly roasted by coffee lovers for coffee lovers.

You Gotta Try: They offer a wide variety of specialty drinks and food, but we recommend grabbing a java freeze and the double-stack panini for a well-rounded meal.

Intuition Coffee + Juice

Location: Downtown Peoria (Historic Kickapoo Building)

Don’t be alarmed. That nine-foot black bear lurking in the background is harmless. He’s actually a Peoria legend — and a polar bear. Ask about his story when you stop in!

Intuition Coffee + Juice is where sustainability and delicious coffee blend seamlessly, offering top-notch décor and vibes. (Note: They give discounts for bringing your own mug.)

You Gotta Try: The best lavender latte in town. People also crave and rave about Intuition’s smoothie bowls. But if you opt for the Nutella toast instead, we won’t blame you.

customer and barista inside of Intuition Coffee + Juice
CxT Roasting Company

Locations: Downtown Peoria and Keller Station

This family-owned roasting company is a fan favorite in the river city. Locals can’t get enough of the exceptional quality, variety and atmosphere they provide. From the pour-over coffee to the espressos to the mouthwatering macchiatos, you can taste CxT’s passion in every sip.

You Gotta Try: You gotta try to surprise that special someone in your life with a thoughtful gift. We recommend CxT’s coffee + chocolate + candle box set for that gift.

CxT Roasting Company employee
Four30 Scones

Location: Morton

You might be able to guess by their name, but the scones here are best-in-class. Seriously, if you’re in Morton, you need to swing in and grab some of these traditional British baked goods. But deciding which one(s) to get may be the hardest decision of your day. While their scones are the talk of the town, they also take pride in their coffee — using a specialty house blend with notes of chocolate, nuts and sweetness.

You Gotta Try: If you’re looking for a great birthday party idea for your kid, Four30 Scones offers fun classes for youths to learn how to make these delectable treats. To learn more about this, email them at info@four30scones.com.

The Spot Coffee

Location: North Peoria

The Spot Coffee stands out with its collaborative spirit — sourcing its delicious pastries from Four30 Scones and high-quality coffee from CxT Roasting Company. Their warm and caring service is second to none, as the knowledgeable baristas work with you to get your drink of choice just right.

You Gotta Try: The scones are top shelf, the perfect complement to a freshly brewed cup of java.

interior of The Spot Coffee
Café Santa Rosa

Location: Peoria Heights

The story behind Café Santa Rosa is special. They’re one of the only coffee shops in the United States that own the farm that provides the coffee beans for their café. Owners Heber and Marta Vidal have a coffee farm located in the Cauca region of Colombia, and their “farm to cup” model ensures the freshest coffee possible for their patrons.

The best part? They pay their employees in Colombia, mostly hardworking women, a livable wage and provide access to free health clinics. Café Santa Rosa is a company that cares and invests in people.

You can read more about this in Molly Crusen Bishop’s book, “100 Things to Do in Peoria Before You Die.

You Gotta Try: The iced maple brown sugar latte is a treat for the taste buds.

interior of Cafe Santa Rosa
ARDOR Breads and Provisions

Location: Downtown Peoria

“Ardor” is defined as the act of doing something with enthusiasm and passion — which is evident with every sip and bite you take at this incredible establishment. We aren’t the only ones who think so: Ardor was recently named one of USA Today’s 2024 Restaurants of the Year.

You Gotta Try: The Krispykouign (see picture). A maple pastry with crispy fried egg and cheddar cheese. It’s the best breakfast sandwich this side of the Mississippi. Probably the other side, too. You won’t regret it.

the Krispykouign from ARDOR Breads and Provisions
Kickabrew Coffee Co.

Location: Downtown Kickapoo

Kickabrew is a cute and charming café just a few miles down the road from The Shoppes at Grand Prairie. From the coffee to the friendly service to the unique aesthetic, it’s a hidden gem that needs to be discovered by all.

You Gotta Try: Any of their iced lattes — made with delicious homemade syrups.

seating area on the interior of Kickabrew Coffee
Eli’s Coffee Shop

Locations: Morton, Tremont, Mackinaw, Metamora

Eli’s Coffee Shop beckons visitors with its cozy ambiance, tasty java and kind staff. It’s a perfect spot for some relaxation and connection. Along with a full espresso bar, they have bakery delights that’ll knock your socks off, made from scratch.

You Gotta Try: The cinnamon streusel coffee cake is out of this world. Do yourself a favor and order some extra to take home.

Coffee Connection

Location: Pekin

If you’re a fan of warm and inviting cafés, Coffee Connection is a great place to spend a couple of hours. They also have some of the most delicious food around — serving up everything from breakfast casseroles to cheeseburger chowder soup and more.

You Gotta Try: The Sloppy Joe sandwich. You probably didn’t think you’d see that recommendation in a coffee shop blog, did you?

interior of Coffee Connection
The Blend

Location: Washington

Since 2007, their motto has been “When coffee and community come together.” And thanks to their outgoing, friendly staff and high-quality coffee, that slogan checks out. The Blend is an ideal spot to tackle some work or catch up with old friends. Just be sure to carve out plenty of time because you won’t want to leave.

You Gotta Try: The Blend Express. It’s their standalone drive-thru building two blocks west of their coffee shop. Grab it and go!

MadMac’s Coffee

Location: Germantown Hills

If you haven’t been to MadMac’s, add it to your list immediately. Everything from the coffee to the pastries to the homey vibes make it a gem worth visiting. Their customer service is exceptional — and will have you coming back time and time again.

And if you’re in a rush? Don’t worry. MadMac’s has a drive-thru for your convenience.

You Gotta Try: The cheesecake is divine.

front entrance of MadMac's Coffee
Cultured Grounds

Location: Downtown Peoria (Inside the Twin Towers)

It’s a coffee shop like no other in Greater Peoria, holding court in the middle of the iconic Twin Towers Mall. With the soft glow of natural light filtering through the windows and big comfortable couches, you’re in for an all-around positive experience at Cultured Grounds — not to mention a great selection of coffee and food.

You Gotta Try: If you’re there for breakfast, get the bacon, egg and cheese on a croissant. If you’re there for lunch, order the naan pizza and don’t think twice about it — just not on Saturday or Sunday because they’re closed.

patrons inside of Cultured Grounds


That completes our list of 14* Coffee Shops Locals Love. They’re all better than Central Perk, especially since none of them have a live studio audience watching your every move.

Images sourced from PJStar and social media of businesses listed.