The Best Local Coffee Shops in Rapid City, Ranked

The Pine Needle has tested and ranked five local coffee shops based on seven crucial factors.

By Cassie Knickerehm and Leah Emerson

The majority of high school students who drink coffee began for the purpose of survival. But once begun, the habit of drinking coffee and completing homework in a coffee shop can be more about fun. When fun is a factor, it is time to put away Dad’s can of Folgers and search out the best coffee shops.

While chain shops, like Starbucks and Dunn Bros, are easy to access, are they the best option? What if you want to support something local and experience something completely unique? For that, there are many great local businesses to choose from.

Yet with so many choices, which is the best? That’s not a simple question to answer, since, when it comes to picking a coffee shop, there are many aspects that are important to consider.

That’s where we’ve come to help.

We decided it was our civic duty to help the people of Rapid City choose the best local coffee shop. Unfortunately our Pine Needle budget was low (nonexistent) but we sacrificed for the benefit of society.

To properly evaluate each coffee shop, we considered seven categories that are critical for the optimal coffee shop experience. Then we assigned the shop an overall score. It is important to note we got the same drinks at every coffee shop and timed how long it took. Please enjoy this extremely scientific and official ranking of the locally owned coffee shops in Rapid City. (Keep in mind that a five star rating for a coffee shop is as rare as a five star rating in the Rolling Stone.)

1. Alternative FuelAlternative fuel.png

512 Main Street, Rapid City

There are many different things to choose from on the Alternative Fuel menu, both food and drinks. However, their tables are small, which is not ideal for studying (especially if you’re using your AP Chemistry binder), and the chairs are uncomfortable. But if you just want to meet up somewhere to chat, Alternative Fuel is a good choice because when you finish your coffee you can go walk around downtown.

2. DixonDixon.png

Located in the Ace Hardware parking lot at 320 West Main St, Rapid City

Dixon is the only place on this list that is only drive-thru instead of an actual sit-down coffee shop. This might lower the atmosphere but means it can be more convenient, and faster. It also means that you get to choose what music is playing. They don’t have many food options, but they have almost limitless drink options. It’s a good place to go when you need a quick coffee pick-me-up

3. RumoursPrint

5506 Bendt Drive, Rapid City

Although our first impression of Rumours was good, because the interior decorating was appealing and Fleetwood Mac was playing, we quickly found out that looks can be deceiving. The shot of espresso in the chai was burnt, and we would like to comment on the rest of the flavors of coffee but it was so hot our tastebuds burnt off. Also, the music got progressively worse, and there were advertisements which we were not a fan of. We will admit that the raspberry white chocolate scone that we had was very nice tasting.

4. Essence of CoffeeEssence.png

908 Main Street, Rapid City

At Essence, the music was too soft to hear, and there were a lot of conversations going on, so if that bothers you when studying it might not be the place for you. It had a cute, homey aesthetic, and good lighting. The claimed Australian coffee gets bonus points for actually having being served by Australians. They have breakfast options, but they do close at 3 so this place is a no go for after school studying.

5. Pure BeanPure Bean.png

201 Main Street, Rapid City

We saved the best for last, Pure Bean was unanimously voted as our favorite place on the list. It had the stereotypical coffee shop aesthetic in the best way possible. The coffee was very good, and if you like trying new things, they have fig and goat cheese scones which might sound weird but are also quite good. Pure Bean has all of the necessary coffee shop amenities: couches, cool windows, a fireplace, a piano, and neat lights.

All in all, some places make different drinks better than others, but our winner was Pure Bean! Coincidentally all of our favorite coffee shops landed on Main Street, ensuring that it might be your main stop for coffee.

Feature image: “I heart coffee” by jojo77 on Flickr

Photo of Rumors by Callan Baxter. Other photos by Leah Emerson.


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