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The Best Coffee Shops Nearby – According to an Undergrad

Welcome to Willamette! You may have heard that Seattle is the coffee capital of the Northwest, but you needn’t go further north for great coffee — it’s right here in Salem. You may be tempted to search on Yelp for a coffee shop, or maybe you already have. Coffee fuels the mind, body, and soul, so it’s never bad to know where the best of the best is near you. Feel free to leave a comment with your personal experiences should you choose to go anywhere on this list!

The Governor’s Cup (“Gov Cup”)  

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– The baristas! I’ve never had a dull interaction; they are all so nice, fun and willing to help you through indecisiveness (the extensive menu can be daunting, at first).

– Incredible coffee … it definitely helps that they have their own coffee bean roaster. When you’re there and it’s in action, the smell is divine.

– Its social atmosphere — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great for focused work, too! Gov Cup has fun and spunky vibes, but on any given weekend, you’ll find many students doing group or solo work.

Personal Recommendation:

– Early mornings: A classic hot mocha never disappoints. Pair it with any of their menu items for a perfect start to your day. I have never ordered anything but the Romance in Durango bagel, because why keep searching when you’ve already found the one?

– Afternoons: The blended chai is absolutely amazing and should be on everyone’s “Top 10 Things to Drink Before I Die” lists.

Ike Box

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– Great for a study date! Gov Cup is awesome, but Ike Box takes the cake here, for sure. It has a huge open room and holds a number of secret back rooms that are quieter and ideal for group study or conferences. (You can also reserve these rooms ahead of time if you have more serious things to discuss.)

– The main room is mainly composed of windows which add so much natural light to the space — perfect for those sunny-but-cold days where you want to be outside, but you don’t want to freeze.

Personal Recommendation:

– You can never go wrong with tea at Ike Box, and their lattes aren’t too shabby either. If you’re looking for food, go for the scones.

French Press

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– French Press is more of a restaurant than a coffee shop, but their coffee is amazing, regardless.

– There is a deceiving amount of seating (as in, there is more than you’d expect), and I’ve always found a table, even when it’s a busy Sunday morning. On sunny days, they have a great patio area.

Personal Recommendation:

– If you like cherry, get the Black Forest. If you like mint, get the Grasshopper.

– I love their crepe omelets — it’s an omelet in a crepe? What more could you need?

Dutch Bros

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– All of their locations (there are at least six nearby) are drive-thru’s, so they are quick and easy!

– If you like coffee with your sugar like I do, this is the place for you. It’s almost difficult to detect the coffee in these drinks — which makes the more caffeinated ones that much more dangerous. 

– If you are feeling adventurous or overwhelmed, ask for the barista’s personal favorite — you’ll never get the same thing twice!

– Menu if you just can’t handle the pressure in line. I reference this on the reg, because there are so many fun things to try that I never would’ve considered.

Personal Recommendation:

– Coffee: 911 or a Black Forest

– Rebel: with mango and lime

– Tea: green tea with lime, pomegranate, and strawberry

Coffee in Motion

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– Similar to Dutch, this is a drive-thru cafe that could literally drive away. The cafe is inside a double-decker bus.

– Don’t let the janky bus exterior fool you, the people inside are anything but that. They are so friendly and fun, and there’s rarely traffic, so you can have a nice chat.

Personal Recommendation:

– If you thought the blended chai was good at Gov Cup, then this one will blow you away. Did someone say homemade whipped cream?!

Of course, our beloved Bistro and Rick’s Cafe

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– Super close — it’s next to the millstream on campus where you can chill and enjoy your coffee outside on nice days. It also has a wonderful atmosphere inside for cold winter days.

– The coffee isn’t what you’d expect from on-campus coffee — it is actually really good!

Personal Recommendation:

– The house blend from Rick’s is my favorite. At the Bistro, you have to get an Italian soda; my favorite syrup combo is mango and lime.


Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

– Relaxing atmosphere, nice for light reading or just spending time with friends.

Personal Recommendation:

– I always get their Macchiato. It’s delicious.

I realize this information may be a bit overwhelming, considering you HAVEN’T HAD YOUR COFFEE YET. So, here’s a chart to get you started.


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