Your Bloomington/Normal Coffee Guide

According to CNBC's Documentary, The Coffee Addiction, Americans consume more than 400 million cups of coffee per day. Residents of the Bloomington/Normal area are certainly no exception. With over 20 shops especially catering to the coffee drinker, you can rest assured that no matter where you are in town, your caffeine fix is right around the corner. The twin cities provides an eccentric mixture of franchise coffee shops and locally-owned establishments. However, if you are overwhelmed with all of your options, or if you are at all indecisive like me, here is a guide to help you choose which coffee, and in particular, which cafe in Blo/No works best for you!

Do you find yourself on this page but are not a fan of coffee? Maybe you wish to find more information about other food and beverage options in Bloomington/Normal? If so, try visiting Food and Drink or, if you are interested in adult beverages, try Alcohol and Bars.



Table of Contents

The History of Coffee
The Different Types of Coffee
Bloomington/Normal Cafe Environments
      - A Place to Relax
      - Get it and Go
Coffeehouses with Food
Member Rewards Program
Interesting Facts about Coffee



The History of Coffee

The tale of how coffee evolved into what it is today is rather interesting. The story begins with a man who owned goats that noticed something peculiar when his herd would eat a particular kind of berry. After consuming these berries, the herd would become incredibly energetic, which subsequently caused them to have trouble sleeping at night. Perplexed, the man went to his local monastery and disclosed his findings. The church then decided to use the berries to make the beverage we now affectionately call "coffee."

The discovery of coffee and its capabilities quickly manifested into wide spread use of the drink. Shortly after, Arabs were cultivating and trading the beverage’s beans, which culminated into the invention of the coffee house. By the seventeenth century, coffee had made its way to Europe, allowing a cheap form of entertainment for anyone looking to enjoy in depth conversation. Coffee also ironically played a key role in a major historical event for the United States of America. During the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where citizens rebelled against King George’s ludicrous tax on tea, protesters began drinking coffee instead, increasing the popularity of the dark beverage in the New World.

 Since then, coffee has been established and grown in various places ranging from the islands of Sumatra to Central America. Today, the industry brings in billions of dollars annually, making it one of the world’s most profitable crops and certainly one of the most widely loved and appreciated drinks. 

Bloomington/Normal holds its own history with coffee and cafes. The Coffeehouse, located in Uptown Normal, has been a staple in the twin cities for over eighteen years. The Coffeehouse has remained the same, even with all of the changes over the last two decades to that part of town, which speaks volumes of their authenticity and desire to remain unique and original. They are followed closely by the Coffee Hound, with locations in both Bloomington and Normal, that have warmly served the area for over a decade. Both the Coffeehouse and Coffee Hound, provide such wonderful experiences, memories, and product to the community, that not only does it provide profit for them, but it also makes drinking coffee that much more enjoyable for those in the Bloomington/Normal area.


The Boston Tea Party of 1773  



The Different Types of Coffee

Going into a coffee shop without having any previous knowledge of their drinks is like trying to solve a trigonometry problem blindfolded. With all of the different types, roasts, tastes, additives, and complex names to choose from, it is nearly impossible to know which drink suits you best.

Espresso is strong black coffee that is created by forcing steam through the coffee beans. People often relate the taste to how the bean smells when making coffee - rather hearty and bitter. If you are looking for something sweet, this is not the drink for you. However, espresso is a great source of caffeine, and is used in plenty of other sweet drinks. Want to add a twist to this simple beverage? Order a Espresso Macchiato - an espresso with a dollop of steamed milk.

Cappuccinos have come to be a staple in most local and franchise coffee shops around the world. Even with the simple components of this drink being espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam, a customer with a sweet tooth with certainly not be disappointed after choosing it. Cappuccinos are undeniably known for their richness and dessert-like quality that consistently keep drinkers craving more.

Americano is essentially a watered down form of an espresso. Although this may sound unappetizing to some, those who choose this creamy form of coffee, are pleasantly surprised by its deep flavor.

Lattes are another common choice in almost all cafes, due to its versatility in taste. Lattes are a simple combination of espresso and steamed milk. They come in a variety of flavors such as vanilla, caramel, etc. Many times, lattes even come in seasonal flavors such as pumpkin spice, an incredibly popular fall favorite. Consumers also love this deliciously sweet and savory drink to be served on ice, especially during the warmer months.

Mocha is a favorite of many. A mocha is made by combining espresso, chocolate, and hot milk. For those who enjoy the sweeter things in life, and a mocha fits right in. Often times, coffee stores, like Starbucks, serve these drinks with a generous portion of whipped cream on top for extra sweetness. 

Types of Coffee 




Bloomington/Normal Cafe Environments 

Cafes are a place where a wide variety of people come together for a multitude of reasons. Some are there to simply get their cup of Joe and leave; others use them as a meeting place for friends, a place of study, or as a comfortable environment to read a thought-provoking book. Whatever the case may be, there is a coffee shop in Bloomington/Normal that is guaranteed to meet your needs and desires.

A Place to Relax 

Since the 15th century, coffee houses have been used as a place of gathering . After the Arabs began cultivating their own beans and successfully started trading them, they began to open public shops.
Not only could you enjoy your favorite cup of coffee there, you could listen to live music, watch performers, play chess, or simply keep up with the news of the day and relax. Today, not much has changed, as Central Illinois offers several  incredible cafe atmospheres to relax in and enjoy. Below is a list of these accommodating shops - please feel free to click on each store name to find out more details on location, hours of operation, and other contact  information:

-   Starbucks - With several locations around town, Starbucks has a good amount of seating in all stores, except their Kroger location.
-  The Coffeehouse - This place is the epitome of a classic coffee shop, with live entertainment, art, and plenty of seating for social gatherings.
-  The Coffee Hound - With two convenient locations, one in Bloomington and one in Normal, both cafes offer new and modern atmospheres, with a generous amount of seating.
-  Panera - Another shop that has locations in both of the twin cities, as well as ample room to gather or study.
Fusion Brew - Not only does Fusion Brew provide a zen-like atmosphere and a variety of unique drinks, but it also is located close to campus, just off South Main Street. However, the few times I've visited Fushion Brew, the staff are incredibly unfriendly!
- Dunkin' Donuts - A new location right down the street from Heartland Community College makes Dunkin' Donuts a great spot to stop in for your favorite drink.
- Gloria Jeans - Another friendly franchise coffee shop that provides a relaxing atmosphere for socializing, located right by HCC. (Their mall location does not have a generous amount of seating.)
- The Chess Cafe - A sweet little cafe in Downtown Bloomington. Great place to relax, get some Mexican hot chocolate, and play a nice round of chess.


Coffee Hound in Uptown NormalThe Coffeehouse in Uptown NormalFusion Brew in Normal



Get it and Go

As much as most of us would love to be able to sit for hours, relishing our favorite book, or chatting with loved ones,  sometimes the chaos of life gets in the way. When we are in a hurry or just simply do not feel like sitting down anywhere, then the cafes of Blo/No have options for you. Gloria Jeans, Panera, Dunkin Donuts, Bevande, and select Starbucks locations all offer the choice of using their favorable drive-through for your convenience.



Coffeehouses with Food

Coffee is composed of five main components: acidity, body, aroma,  flavor, and roast. Through this knowledge, many coffee shops learned to market their stores by composing the perfect food pairing menus. From donuts to cookies, to sandwiches and beyond, stores such as Starbucks,Gloria Jeans, and Fusion Brew have implemented the perfect snacks to keep you coming back for more than just their drinks. Some locations even went as far as creating full menus including places like, The Coffeehouse and Panera. These food options also bring in customers who are not fond of coffee, but who enjoy good food.


The Coffeehouse Full Menu


Member Rewards Programs

Another intelligent marketing avenue some coffee shops have taken up is creating reward programs. Personally, I love coffee, and I enjoy coffee even more when someone else is making it. Starbucks has always been the coffee that I prefer,(non-fat, no whip, White Chocolate Mocha, please) so, when I found out they would reward me for going there, I desired it even more. This is exactly why they do it! Let's be honest - we all know that any business that implements a reward program has made excessive amounts of money through us before we ever see a return reward. However, when we know we are going to be buying something anyway, why not get a free drink every twelve visits? This is identical to how the Starbucks Rewards Program works. By paying with a Starbucks Rewards Card, or by paying through the Starbucks App on your phone, you get a star for every transaction. After your first five drinks, you reach the Green Level, allowing you a free drink or treat on your birthday, as well as 15% off on the online Starbucks store. Also, to make you feel more at home, they offer free refills on coffees and teas at this level, during your stay at the store, as well as other exclusive offers. Once you collect thirty stars, you become a Gold Member, and the newest recipient of the prestigious Gold Card. (It is quite beautiful, I must say.) As a Gold Member, some may deem you as a Starbucks addict, but it certainly pays off - every 12th drink is free!

If you are not a fan of Starbucks, or wish to try a different coffee shop that have rewards, try the eSippers program at Gloria Jeans, or the DDPerks card at Dunkin' Donuts.


Interesting Facts about Coffee

More Facts Can Be Found Here

  • Residents of New York drink almost seven times more coffee than the rest of the United States.
  • Coffee, like most things in excessive doses, can be lethal. The deadly dose equals roughly one-hundred cups.
  • Espressos are seen as a crucial aspect of life in Italy, literally causing them to be regulated by the government.
  • Coffee beans come from the pit of a berry which look a lot like cherries or grapes.
  • Unlike the average barista in their twenties in the U.S., Italian baristas tend to be in their forties and higher, as it is seen as a highly respectable profession there.


As a psychoactive drug, coffee, in high doses can cause hallucinations 




Coffee, in it's many variations and locations within Bloomington/Normal, is a product that is loved widely. Whether you enjoy franchise coffee, or the atmosphere of a local cafe, latte or mocha, iced or hot, the drink remains a valuable commodity that brings many residents together.