Plain Talk Books & Coffee

Plain Talk Books & Coffee opened in 2009, the first Raccoon Forks microbusiness, as a neighborhood coffee shop and used bookstore. While we have evolved and expanded over the years, most of what we do at Plain Talk is rooted in the past.

We have crafted an extensive breakfast and lunch deli sandwich menu, highlighted by our signature bagel sandwiches served on fresh baked bagels and breads from Brick Street Bakery.

We started roasting our own coffee beans at Raccoon Forks Foods in Ames. We roast in small batches for the week ahead to bring you the freshest possible house dark and light roasts and espresso blend.

We recently added and are proud to serve the famous handmade ice cream from Bauder’s.

We have revived the old fashioned soda fountain concept and put our spin on it—a full menu of unique specialty coffee drinks and ice cream sodas, floats, shakes and more.

We have compiled an excellent selection of used books – books that we like and think you will like too. These are books we would recommend to friends.

Last, but not at all least, as a Raccoon Forks microbusiness, we provide job opportunities to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Employees at Plain Talk receive one-on-one job coaching and the support they need to build skills and be successful on the job.

Plain Talk’s name is a nod to erstwhile neighborhood resident Plain Talk Publishing Co., and the former East Des Moines weekly newspaper Plain Talk, which ran from the late 1800s into the first half of the 1900s. In 1899, Plain Talk reported on the progress of our building’s construction and its early tenants.

The first tenant of 602 E. Grand Ave. was the Hast Meat Market, which lasted in the space until the late 1950s. The first inhabitant at 600 E. Grand Ave. was Hammer Pharmacy, which operated a soda fountain from 1912 until 1955, and remained there until 2017.

In spring 2020, we undertook a historically sensitive interior remodel, enlarging the kitchen space, dining room, and bookroom, and adding the antique lunch counter. Exterior building rehab and restoration began in the late 2000s and continues incrementally.

In the near future, we plan to expand into the former Hammer Pharmacy space next door and carry on in the spirit of what came before us. Stay tuned for details.