Callie’s Campus Café Crawl: Prairie Lights Cafe

Welcome to my highly-caffinated life.

When thinking about the change that comes along with going to college, most people hate the idea of leaving their family, their friends, their comfortable bed, or their beloved pet. Although I get these gripes, my mind was the most worried about finding a new staple coffee shop. Being born with the incapacity to “go with the flow” birthed the idea of going on a sort of crusade to find my new favorite coffee shop in Iowa City. With my backpack full of textbooks and half-crushed granola bars, I headed off to find my new favorite study spot.

As a preface, I am not a black coffee kind of girl. I wish I was the type of person to throw on a black turtleneck, grab my cup of black coffee, and head to the nearest poetry slam, but in reality I want my coffee to taste more like vanilla creamer than anything else. Because of this, for most of my escapades I will try what I would coin as “wuss coffee.”

Customer Service: I always tend to base my favorite coffee shops off of how nice their workers are. I’m super happy to say that Prairie Lights had some AWESOME customer service. When walking up the counter, I was greeted by a very friendly guy who was able to point me towards the right direction for a caffeinated drink that didn’t taste like black coffee. The other worker chimed in some suggestions as well, and I really felt like they valued me as a customer.

Atmosphere: I LOVE the atmosphere of this place. The fact that I am only a couple feet from stacks of books makes my English major heart beat faster, and the ability to sit amongst the various genres creates a creative space for hanging out.

Noise Volume: When I was there I didn’t notice any music playing. I can appreciate this type of setting for studying/listening to your own music and not being bothered by the overhead track. Despite the lack of music, there was a lot of volume from people talking. This for sure isn’t a “quiet” study space, but with headphones in I could cancel out most of the chatter.

Seating: It seems to me that the window seats in the actual bookstore are always taken, but there were plenty of spaces to sit in the coffee store. I will say, there aren’t many huge tables for group work, but I’m sure you could move tables together if you needed to! There is one larger tabletop group table, but it was reserved when I got there. 2-4 seated tables are the norm.


Menu: I really liked the menu options here! It seemed like there were lots of things I would want to try, and I’m a pretty picky eater/drinker. I appreciated how many tea options were on the menu and there were a few food options, although not a ton. Also, for the above 21 crowd, there were beer and wine options available.

My Drink & Rating: The drink I got was a Black Rider. I gave it a 4.5/5 stars. I really enjoyed the drink that I got! I was super glad that I asked the barista what to order because the drink was really pleasant. I was nervous to branch out, but would definitely order this again when I go back! This drink is really great when you need a warm, caffeinated pick-me-up but want it to taste sweet and delicious, too. Plus, the latte art was beyond cute and made my little aesthetic heart soar.

Friend Rating: I brought my boyfriend to Prairie Lights with me. He got a vanilla latte and gave it a 4/5. He said it tasted nice and is a good vanilla latte if you’re looking for one.

Would I Go Back?: YES. I love that you can sit anywhere upstairs in prairie lights and the “local bookstore” vibe the entire experience gave off.

Has anyone been to Prairie Lights Cafe? If so, any favorite drinks from there?

Check out their website!

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