Kindred Coffee opens in North Linn Street space

Kindred Coffee opens in former Tru Coffee space

The coffee bar of Kindred Coffee as seen on July 1, 2024, in Iowa City. CREDIT PARKER JONES

This summer’s coffee connoisseurs of downtown Iowa City saw a new contender, Kindred Coffee, open at 287 N. Linn St. on June 19.

Run by co-owners Molly Kirby and Connor Jenkins, the business started as a mobile street food operation in 2022, initially dubbed Nomadic Foods. They began by offering vegetarian breakfast options at events like the Iowa City Farmers Market, and later the Arts Festival and Jazz Fest. 

In 2023, they added a mobile espresso bar to complement their breakfast options, which led to a further interest in coffee products. Eventually, they were able to purchase the North Linn Street space for the store’s first brick-and-mortar location after the closure of Tru Coffee in early June.

“It was nice to have kind of the slow start with the farmers’ market, only doing things once a week,” Ms. Kirby said. “We love having physical space, but it’s relentless…The to-do list is never-ending. So it was kind of getting our feet wet with the mobile events and then deciding that we could do that every day.”  

Although they see a steady flow of local customers so far, the duo said they expect business to pick up even more in the fall, once the University of Iowa student population returns to campus. 

Mr. Jenkins said they still plan to offer their mobile options at local events, but that having a physical space has been very helpful. 

“They both really complement each other,” Mr. Jenkins said. “It was also nice to gauge people’s interest of what they want to see in the area, before we got into it. And then realize maybe they didn’t want exactly what we thought they did. It was good to dial in on things.”

A customer sits in an armchair of Kindred Coffee on July 1, 2024, in Iowa City. CREDIT PARKER JONES

Although Kindred’s menu is not fully vegan, the coffee house boasts a “plant-focused” ingredient list, barring whole milk and eggs. 

“It’s all plant-based, but we serve whole milk with our coffee. I think people would riot if we did not do that,” Ms. Kirby joked. 

Going forward, the duo hopes to launch a line of bottled coffee in the near future. They recently received funding for the line through the Johnson County Local Food and Farm Grant program. The grant will help facilitate the bottling process, Ms. Kirby said, with plans to start working on labeling and logistics like a health department certification as soon as this August. 

The first coffee recipe they expect to bottle is their walnut cream cold brew, which landed them a win for Iowa City’s Top Chef contest in February. 

“So that’ll be our first recipe, and then we’ll see what else we decide to do. We’ll go crazy, no doubt,” Ms. Kirby said.

Mr. Jenkins said the interior underwent some changes during the transition from Tru coffee, including new custom-built wood paneling on the coffee bar, and a fresh coat of paint. He said they also aim to install new exterior signage within the next few weeks.

Ultimately, both Ms. Kirby and Mr. Jenkins said they are excited to have a space on the north side of town, and are thrilled to see what the future holds for Kindred. 7

“I think it’s nice to contribute things that we would also enjoy; we came to both of the coffee shops that were here before, fairly regularly,” Mr. Jenkins said. “And now we just get to offer up our version of a coffee shop, in one of the many parts of town that we like.”