Fleet Feet Stores Partner with Local Coffee Shops, Bringing Brews to Runners

A woman pours coffee into a coffee machine.

Coffee is more than just a morning beverage, it’s a sacred ritual for many adults. Drinking coffee is a way to take time out of your busy schedule and relax, connect and muster energy for the day. For runners, it’s even more important to get a cup in before those early morning miles.

According to an article by Jozo Grgic, studies suggest that “caffeine ingestion improves exercise performance in a broad range of exercise tasks.” The study also found that caffeine has a more dramatic effect on aerobic exercise (like running) than anaerobic exercise (like weight lifting). No wonder coffee and running pair so nicely.

We spoke with Fleet Feet stores across the country to learn about their favorite coffee rituals, from post-run java jaunts to cold brew for charity. Here are our top 12 coffee shops and brands.

Dark Matter Coffee, Fleet Feet Chicago

A bag of coffee sits next to a coffee cup.

Dark Matter Coffee was recently named the best coffee roaster in Chicago by Chicago Reader. Dark Matter Coffee prides themselves on creating coffee blends rooted in sustainability and fair business practices. Coffee drinkers can shop for unique blends online or visit one of their eight locations across Chicago.

Fleet Feet Chicago and Diadora partnered with Dark Matter Coffee to create a special espresso blend called Rituale, Italian for “ritual”.

“Rituale is named after the fact that running and coffee go hand-in-hand for a lot of people and many runners start their coffee before they do anything else in the morning. It's their ritual,” says Max Coatney, Fleet Feet Chicago’s Digital Media Manager.

Starting August 21, Fleet Feet Chicago will give away a bag of Rituale to every customer who purchases a pair of Diadora shoes while supplies last. Anyone who tries on a pair of Diadora shoes at the store will be entered into a raffle to win a bag.

RND Coffee Lounge, Fleet Feet Roanoke

Roasters Next Door (RND) is a small, local coffee shop near Downtown Roanoke that delivers freshly roasted coffee in a warm, welcoming environment. Not only do they serve delicious coffee, but they also donate their brews for charity.

RND donates kegs of Nitro Cold Brew to Fleet Feet Roanoke for their Nitro for Non-profits initiative. Fleet Feet offers this coffee to all customers free of charge, but requests a donation to the non-profit of the month.

“We’re excited to partner with another local, small business on this project,” says Casey Lewis, Marketing Director at Fleet Feet Roanoke.

“RND Coffee is a small-batch roastery and coffee lounge, and has made a big impact on the local coffee community in the short time they’ve been open. We’re also excited to support many local nonprofits through this project. In 2022, we’ll start supporting a different local nonprofit every quarter.”

If you’d like to shop online or sign up for a coffee subscription, you can do so here.

Coffee Connection, Fleet Feet Decatur (IL)

Runners smile for a picture after their morning run group.

Coffee Connection serves gourmet coffee and homemade pastries out of a unique double-sided drive-through in Decatur, Illinois. They were given the 2021 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Smoothies by the Herald & Review.

Fleet Feet Decatur partners with Coffee Connection to host Friday morning group runs throughout the summer.

Kyle May, owner of Fleet Feet Decatur, says it’s important to have another local business to collaborate with.

“Before COVID, we used to do some pancake runs with them, and they would also bring equipment in and do pour overs for customers. Those events were fun and we hope to be able to bring them back soon. We donate to each other's events, talk business and help each other out.”

Pachamama Coffee, Fleet Feet Sacramento

Pachamama Coffee is a coffee cooperative owned by farmers that has three locations in the Sacramento area. They provide fresh, organic coffee to customers across the country with their coffee subscription services. Their local cafes are a great spot to hang out, drink coffee and learn about Pachamama’s unique story.

Every Thursday morning, Fleet Feet Sacramento hosts a group fun run followed by coffee at Pachamama Coffee.

“We chose to partner with them because we love what they stand for and how they produce amazing coffee while also making sure their farmers are taken care of,” says Annalisa Romero, Marketing Director at Fleet Feet Sacramento. “They support several local businesses and artists while also fostering diversity and inclusion within their community.”

“Running and drinking or making coffee are similar in the sense that both acts require practice, good technique, patience, and a respect for the process. True enjoyment of the outcome, whether it's a PR or the best pour over you've ever made, comes from the dedication to the process,” says Romero.

If you’d like to stop by a Pachamama Coffee location or order a bag online, Romero recommends the single origin roast from Mexico.

Iron Bank Coffee Company, Big Dog Fleet Feet

Iron Bank Coffee Company in Columbus, Georgia has more than just a partnership with neighboring Big Dog Fleet Feet - they’re owned by the same people. Big Dog Fleet Feet’s group runs often feature post-run coffees or beers at Iron Bank Coffee Company, which serves both.

Iron Bank is known for their live music, local art and specialty lattes, featuring the aptly named Soggy Jogger.

“The Soggy Jogger was named affectionately after the post-run feeling of running in the Georgia heat,” says Reggie Luther, co-owner of Big Dog Fleet Feet and Iron Bank Coffee. “It combines the flavors of cinnamon, caramel, and hazelnut with espresso and steamed milk.”

“For us, running and coffee are truly a daily ritual. We love to wake up, drink a hot cup of coffee, then take off on a run. We believe running and coffee strengthen our local running community. Our goal is to put our runners and community first and create a local gathering point for any level of runner and any kind of coffee drinker,” Luther says.

Fusion Coffeehouse and Cups, Fleet Feet Jackson

Runners pose for a picture after their weekly coffee run.

Runners in Jackson, Mississippi love their coffee so much that their local Fleet Feets hosts two coffee runs every Friday.

The Ridgeland store hosts their Friday morning runs at Fusion Coffeehouse while the Flowood store runs from Cups. Both coffee shops are locally owned and operated.

Cups has eleven locations across Mississippi and prides themselves on giving back to the community. They display local artists at no commission, offer free Wi-Fi for students and customers and give back to local charities, according to their website.

Fusion Coffeehouse serves fresh-roasted coffee with unique flavors amongst live music, free computer access and tasty lunch and breakfast options.

“Most days start with coffee and a run for our crowd, so combining the two allows for the participants to get the best of both worlds,” says Nicole Marks, Business Outreach and Social Media Coordinator at Fleet Feet Jackson.

“It also helps people build new friendships. Connecting on a more genuine level helps build that connection between people, which makes them want to come back and support our other events, join our training programs and shop with us because it shows we are more than just a running store,” Marks says.

Larry’s Coffee, Fleet Feet Raleigh

Larry’s Coffee roasts organic, fair-trade and shade-grown coffee for coffee enthusiasts in the Raleigh area. They’re known for using sustainable resources to power their roastery, including solar panels and harvested rainwater.

Not only do they roast responsibly-sourced coffee, they also make a special Fleet Feet blend just for Fleet Feet Raleigh.

“We've used it for holiday gifts, raffles, and sometimes sell it in the store,” says Jacob Dagger, Director of Retail Sales and Marketing at Fleet Feet Raleigh. “They're a great brand, really focused on sustainability and improving the community.”

While the Fleet Feet blend is only sold at Fleet Feet Raleigh, you can explore other blends by Larry’s Coffee here.

Dancing Goats, Fleet Feet Decatur (GA)

Runners gather on a lawn after their morning run.

Dancing Goats Coffee has several locations throughout the Atlanta area, and their Decatur cafe is a local favorite. It also happens to be right next to Fleet Feet Decatur.

“It's been not only convenient, but also so awesome to have them next door as the community always builds around a coffee shop,” says Lauren Blankenship, Marketing Manager at Fleet Feet Decatur.

“We’ve partnered with Dancing Goats for many of our in store events and our group runs. We encourage folks to bring a lawn chair because every Saturday after the run folks get coffee and hang out on the green space in front of our store.”

Dancing Goats Coffee was born in Olympia, Washington and, after partnering with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, quickly expanded to the East Coast. They pride themselves on their commitment to community and sustainability, and were awarded the 2019 Thurston County Green Business of the Year award.

You can shop their blends here or sign up for a coffee subscription here.

Little Amps, Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg

Little Amps Coffee Roasters has three locations in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania offering baked goods, fresh juice and, of course, coffee. The shops also sell vinyl records, store merchandise and bagged blends.

Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg is partnering with Little Amps to host a free, four-week run series at Little Amps’ downtown location.

The series kicked off on Thursday, August 19 at 7:30 a.m. and will continue every Thursday morning until September 9. The approximately three mile fun run is welcome to all runners and walkers of all paces and abilities.

“We've had a lot of success with training groups, but this is the first time we are attempting a morning run during the week,” says Shelby Joslyn, owner of Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg. Joslyn says that the registration response has been encouraging so far.

You can sign up for the run series here.

Uncommon Grounds, Fleet Feet Fox Valley

Uncommon Grounds is a specialty roaster in Appleton, Wisconsin that distributes coffee all over northeastern Wisconsin. Their shop serves freshly brewed coffee and gluten-free baked goods in a distinct, homey setting.

Fleet Feet Fox Valley partners with them for in-store events and leadership meetings.

“The owner is so nice and he was eager to show me their roasting process,” says Leah Shapiro of Fleet Feet Fox Valley.

You can purchase their unique blends here or sign up for a subscription here.

J. Rene Coffee Roasters, Fleet Feet West Hartford

Members of Fleet Feet West Hartford's running group gather in the cold.

J. Rene Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roaster in West Hartford, Connecticut priding themselves on creating a social experience for coffee enthusiasts. They believe that “coffee has the ability to serve as a social bridge that fosters creative, cultural and community development,” according to their website.

Fleet Feet West Hartford hosts in-store sampling events with J. Rene Coffee Roasters and partners with them for a subscription box. Subscribers receive a bag of coffee and a running themed gift each month.

J. Rene Coffee Roasters and Fleet Feet West Hartford both sell Victus Coffee, a brand that donates two dollars from every bag to a non-profit organization promoting health and wellness.

“When I met Jose Rene and his business partner Anne, we quickly hit it off. We’re both like-minded, small businesses who want to bring our community together and use our resources to do good,” says Stephanie Blozy, who owns Fleet Feet West Hartford. “I love their tag line ‘Fuel Your Purpose. Fuel Your Community.’”

Bean Traders, Fleet Feet Durham

Bean Traders, a locally owned coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, serves freshly roasted coffee, tea, smoothies, snacks and more. You can also purchase unique bagged blends from their store or on their website.

Bean Traders focuses on using local and sustainable resources while giving back to the community. They host free community events for local non-profit groups and donate their coffee grinds to community gardens.

They also host Fleet Feet Durham’s Thursday morning tempo run, part of the PR Project Training Group.

“It’s hard to know if the coffee or the homemade pie is the bigger draw,” says Nora Ayers, Director of Fleet Feet Durham & Carrboro Running Club. “I know the only reason I'm able to have people continue to show up is because of the coffee after!”

Keep Reading