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Java Joe's Coffeehouse

214 4th St., Des Moines, IA - (515) 288-5282
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/23/2007 5:16:00 PM
A temple of caffeine where they roast their own beans and will even provide you with a plunge pot to make a quart of coffee at your own table, Java Joe’s is also a nice place to eat and one of Des Moines’ hot spots for listening to live music. The monthly Java Jam schedule we picked up one morning listed programs that ranged from blues to art rock and included open mic nights as well as one evening titled “Experimental Noise.” In addition to all that, there’s a walkway directly into the adjoining storefront, which is a chock-full artists’ emporium.

We can’t report on the music or art, but we can tell you that the java is grand. Brewed or espresso, with or without hot milk or any one of dozens of flavored Italian syrups, it is world-class coffee. A choice of beans and types of roast are available every day; and to-go cups range in size from eight to twenty ounces.

All the usual breakfast pastries are on the menu – muffins, croissants, bagels – and you can also get that unique mid-Iowa treat known as a Dutch letter. Common in the bake shops of towns where Holland plays a big part in the genealogy, Dutch letters are large fragile cookies made in alphabet shapes. Java Joe had a good supply of W’s (or maybe they were M’s), their flaky pastry ribboned with a layer of almond paste.

There’s a wide choice of seats in the long, brick-walled café. Some are at small, low tables; others are stools at high tables well-suited for browsing through a magazine or morning newspaper. And a handful of seats are located at monitors with mouses where, at ten minutes for a dollar, you can surf the internet while you coffee up.

We’ve yet to eat anything off the lunch menu, which includes cold-cut sandwiches, soups, and a small repertoire of vegetarian/Indian specials (curry, vegan burgers, Jaipur vegetables, and Madras lentils). When we visited, they were offering a special medianoche, a grilled Cuban sandwich of roast pork, ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese dressed with mayo and mustard and stuffed inside a hoagie roll.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Dutch letters
coffee
espresso
Cinnamon Roll
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Dutch letters, veined with almond paste, are an excellent coffee companion. We couldn't figure out if this one was a W or an M. Whichever, it quickly became a U, then vanished.
"Dutch letters, veined with almond paste, are an excellent coffee companion. We couldn't figure out if this one was a W or an M. Whichever, it quickly became a U, then vanished."
Michael Stern





Java Joe's serves a fine example of Iowa's unofficial state pastry, the cinnamon roll.  (Photo and caption by buffetbuster)
"Java Joe's serves a fine example of Iowa's unofficial state pastry, the cinnamon roll. (Photo and caption by buffetbuster)"
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


This neon sign glows on Java Joe's wall. Down towards the back of the room another one spells out the letters T-E-A. However you prefer your caffeine, you'll find multiple varieties of it here.
"This neon sign glows on Java Joe's wall. Down towards the back of the room another one spells out the letters T-E-A. However you prefer your caffeine, you'll find multiple varieties of it here."
Michael Stern


Inside Java Joe's. Behind the long counter is where the coffee is brewed and poured. It's roasted in a machine up front.
"Inside Java Joe's. Behind the long counter is where the coffee is brewed and poured. It's roasted in a machine up front."
Michael Stern


From early in the morning, Java Joe's is a place people come to enjoy their choice of privacy or conversation. Most nights, live music is the draw.
"From early in the morning, Java Joe's is a place people come to enjoy their choice of privacy or conversation. Most nights, live music is the draw."
Michael Stern


Utterly delicious espresso
"Utterly delicious espresso"
Michael Stern


If it's really early in the morning and you haven't yet woken up, this sign above the counter will remind you why you have come to Java Joe's.
"If it's really early in the morning and you haven't yet woken up, this sign above the counter will remind you why you have come to Java Joe's."
Michael Stern



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