America’s 50 Best Coffee Shops

America's best coffee shops — the places that dedicate themselves to the craft of coffee, from bean to cup

Coava Coffee
We rounded up the 50 best coffee shops in the country. See if your favorite made the cut!

What is it about the perfect cup of coffee that gets us out of our homes and into our favorite local coffee shop? Is it the artisanal, hand-roasted beans? Perfectly balanced lattes prepared by trained professionals? Maybe it’s just the comfy atmosphere of a great coffee shop that keeps us coming back for more.

America’s 50 Best Coffee Shops (Slideshow)

A truly great coffee shop has to feel special: some are like a cozy home away from home, others ideally sparse, like a clean blank slate in which you can revitalize. A place to recharge with a good book and a steaming drink or to chat up a friend over that perfect pastry you’re definitely going to stop eating after one more bite. The best spots have a bit of magic to them: ambiance with no pretense, friendly baristas, and of course, delicious coffee. Choosing your perfect shop takes time and patience, but once you’ve found it, you’re set for life.

Luckily, we’ve done some of the legwork for you with our latest list of the top spots for coffee in America in 2014. Working off of last year's America's Best Coffee Shops of 2013, we scoured the nation from Portland to Florida looking for truly remarkable spots to pop into for a little cup of heaven. We measured the spots based on a wide range of criteria. First off, of course, we evaluated the coffee. The shops on this list use high quality beans and have close relationships with their roasters — or are the roasters themselves. Next, we evaluated the culture of the shop. What’s the point of going out for coffee if the space is dreadful? The shops on our list have created great coffee cultures, and even if they have multiple locations, each one feels like a unique, tight-knit community space. We also took the baristas into consideration. Preparing and serving complicated coffee concoctions is an art form, and on our list, we’ve included some of the best-trained, most knowledgeable baristas around. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the food! Although we didn’t weight the food as heavily as the coffee, we certainly paid attention to it. You’ll find coffee shops serving up James Beard Award-winning snacks along with some of the prettiest pastries around. A great coffee shop always leaves its customers eager for a return visit, and our list includes some exciting up-and-comers as well as established trend-makers too good for coffee lovers to miss.

To help us determine which shops around the country really stand out as spectacular, we asked a panel of experts to help us cull through all of the excellent submissions. Sarah Allen, editor and co-founder of Barista Magazine, weighs in on the process:

"I love and also hate nominating my favorite cafés in the United States — there are so many amazing ones to choose from, way more than ever fit onto one list. But really, this is a pretty great problem to have. The level of quality in both product and service in coffeehouses in the U.S. has put our country at the forefront of the specialty-coffee community worldwide. From micro-roasters with a fierce commitment to remaining completely hands-on from farm-to-cup, like Coava Coffee in Portland, Ore.; Verve Coffee in Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Colectivo Coffee in Milwaukee, Wis., to name a few; to the old guard that's been succeeding at the specialty game for more than 20 years like PT's Coffee out of Topeka, Kan.; to cafés that don't roast their own coffee but insist on the very best from the brands they carry — I'm talking about you, BARISTA in Portland, Ore. — we have the kind of leaders in specialty coffee that other industries envy. They are smart and driven, insightful and humble, and passionate to the nth degree. I'm honored every day to walk among them."

—Sarah Allen, editor & co-founder, Barista Magazine

Several of our panelists wished to remain anonymous, but we are pleased to acknowledge the invaluable help received from the following authorities in the field:

Sarah Allen, editor & co-founder, Barista Magazine

Park Brannen, Northeast Barista Champion

Pete Licata, World Champion Barista

Bill Walsh of The Pure Coffee Blog

50. Houndstooth Coffee, Austin

Recently named one of GQ’s “25 Places to Visit in Austin,” Houndstooth Coffee takes its name from the Scottish legend heralding the eponymous plaid as a symbol of regional pride. Houndstooth Coffee, with its quirky Austin vibe, takes city pride seriously by offering barista training from nationally recognized industry professionals and serving premium coffee from roasters including Cuvée and Counter Culture. 

49. Happy Coffee Co., Denver

From a coffee kiosk in a bike shop to a brick-and-mortar shop, Happy Coffee Co. gives Denverites one more reason to be happy (as if they needed it, what with those 300 days of sunshine per year)., Happy Coffee has become the it-place for Denver espresso lovers. Serving Fourbarrel, Heart, and Sightglass beans and others, Happy Coffee takes its drips seriously. Take the Toddy system for iced coffee, an hour-glass-shaped brewer that takes 18 hours to drip all the way through — it's unreal. Or the Aeropress or Vario V60 drip machine — yeah, they mean business. Happy Coffee Co. sits in a minimalist, spacious space on Broadway, perfect for conversations with your friends and baristas. 

Read more about America's 50 Best Coffee Shops.

Jess Novak is the Drink Editor of The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesstothenovak


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29 Comments

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Expense time? Lost a coffee receipt from any of these delightful establishments? Check out ExpressExpense.com for instant receipt replacement.

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If in Newcastle, Australia: Welsh Blacks in Cooks Hill. They really know how to make coffee!

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The fact that you don't have Philadelphia's La Colombe shows that you have no idea what you're doing.

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We all know which company belongs on top.................Starbucks

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No love for Cafe Water Street in Warren, RI? Awesome coffee AND tasty crepes! Plus waterfront seating!

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Madcap, Blue Bottle, Counter Culture, Elixr (PA), LAMILL (LA), Abbey (IN) are missing.

Just to name a few (can't win 'em all).

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You're right about Madcap. Their coffee is awesome. There is also a coffeehouse in Fort Lauderdale, Brew Urban Cafe, which serves Anodyne coffee and makes the best cappuccinos on the planet..

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How about Press Coffee Roasters OR Cartel Coffee Lab in Phoenix??

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Ok, there seems to be a lot of concentration on a few cities. I would think the best 50 would have one from each state. Also, I'd be willing to bet they haven't even tried Dagny's or Covenent in Bakersfield. Both great places.

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can't leave out Fehrenbacher Hof in Goose Hollow - Portland, OR

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Nominate Taza Coffee in Richmond Virginia . Forrest Hill avenue and Westover Hill's Blvd. Good service , romantic ,great sandwiches and prices are competitive

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How about someone nominating Taza coffee in Richmond Virginia . They're located at Forrest Hill ave and Westover Hills blvd . Grat service , decent coffee and very laid back and a wonderful lunch spot too !

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You forgot the Chaffin's Diner in Tucson, Arizona. They got great food and service.

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I used to deliver there. Never ate there but would like to someday. Kris Henderson Tucson,Az !

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Blue Bottle??

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seriously! i couldn't believe it wasn't on the list at all when it should be in the top 10 easily.

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Madcap Coffee??!!! Blue Bottle?

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Madcap Coffee??!!! Blue Bottle?!? Know your stuff before you write!

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Weekend Coffee at The Joule Hotel in Dallas, def a special spot over looked

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Pretty much a bogus, obligatory big city only list. The folks who compiled this list should get out of the city and look for REAL independent shops. We are the backbone of community and serve a better more consistent product than most of these on the list. LostDogCoffee. since 1996 in Shepherdstown West Virginia will go toe to toe with ANY of these. We will FIGHT YOU!! Just sayin.

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now if you would let me print the list that would be super.

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I'm a little surprised that none of the shops in Springfield, Missouri made this list. Yes, it's a sleepy Midwestern town, but it's a coffee hub in a part of the country that's otherwise primarily known for Branson country variety shows and fried Chinese chicken smothered with brown gravy and cashews. This list should probably include The Coffee Ethic, which is located on Park Central Square in downtown Springfield, as well as Kingdom Coffee (recently rebranded from its original name The Hub Coffee and Bicycles), which is located a few blocks west of The Coffee Ethic over on Market Avenue.

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Apparently my first first attempt failed. So let's try it again: You did not scour the country for the best coffee houses. You visited popular cities and that's fine but a trifle lazy. For fabulous coffee, great homemade sandwiches and pastries, and some of the nicest people on the planet take a trip to Rockport, Texas. Dawn, Caroline and Michele are the best. John Aquilino...heading back as soon as I can.

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You didn't scour well enough...major cities are fine but hardly coffee USA! Want great coffee, home-made sandwiches and light pasteries and be surrounded by some of the nicest people on the planet head to Rockport, Texas and spend some time at the Daily Grind. Fabulous on all counts.

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Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze in Austin Texas?

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50 "Best," almost. Missing quite a few. In that order, most certainly not. Fun list though. No Blue Bottle. No Ozo Coffee Co. No Vivace or Victrola. No BARISTA. No Sightglass. No Alterra. No Kaladi's.

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You missed one- Thirty Thirty Coffee Co. in Peoria, Illinois!

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And how does coffee constitute a Daily Meal? Is this a Daily Meal for political prisoners in Thailand?

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And where is Blue Bottle?

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