Only the best of java lovers would understand why the search for that perfect cup of coffee is almost a form of art. I’d drive 10 miles out of my way to get to a cafe. I specifically avoid gas station and fast food coffees. AND I appreciate purity of good quality bean. Because of these things, I’ve have been dubbed a coffee snob and I’m completely okay with that. My coffee snobbery had lead me to some of the best coffee and espresso pleasures!
Tucked away in the not-so-elite part of South Bend, Indiana is a hidden gem called the Zen Cafe. If looks can be deceiving, Zen’s location is certainly that. Thanks to Yelp I discovered this south-side cafe in South Bend on a whim. Gotta love Yelp, it is the best at encouraging me to reach out beyond my Starbucks routine. At first I seriously questioned the location and if this business still existed. Both social media and recent reviews confirmed this spot is exact – in an warehouse that one may mistake for being abandoned. It’s not abandon, it’s actually home to a few local businesses. One of those is a bar called LangLab, which happens to be connected to the café. I’ve actually fallen in love with their atypical, unique location – it intrigues me.
Zen has a cool, industrial, hipster look and feel to it. There aren’t large, viewing windows in the café so I was half expecting a dark, strange atmosphere but to my surprise it is an ideal location for a business meeting or chit chat with friends. The crowd was a melting pot of remote business ladies, bearded fellas, gamers, tree huggers, and families. There are nooks and crannies with vintage seating and a wall that houses an older television and Nintendo. Beyond that is an open storage area where they store bags of coffee beans from Honduras and Nicaragua. Although nestled in the back, their bean roasting area is open and visible to customers. The smells are ahhh-ma-zing.
The barista was friendly and super helpful. He answered my questions and offered suggestions on drinks. I’m set on my lattes. Especially if I know they are going to come with some sort of cool froth design, it makes me feel super coffee-lover cool. He did not disappoint, his latte skills were on point. As for the flavor, he suggested a mocha since they had just created a chocolate syrup the day before. All of their syrups are made in house! Better yet, they more affordable than Starbucks! And ya know what? Starbucks doesn’t make their syrups in house, just sayin’. Zen wins over those big guys in my book. Delicious. Perfect espresso.
For more details, check out my Yelp review here!
I have no affiliation with Zen, nor have I been offered any incentive to visit or blog about them. I am simply a lover of coffee who has found a great cup of java. Check Zen Cafe out on their website, Facebook, or Instagram.