“Cool beans” is the least cool but most appropriate way to describe the home-grown coffee culture in many American cities. More and more Americans are willing to pay more money for good coffee; according to CoffeeReview.com, of the roughly 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the United States, approximately one-third drink gourmet coffee. And what are the best cities to enjoy said gourmet coffee? That’s for us to tell you. Here are the 10 best cities in America for coffee.
To narrow down the many American cities that have great coffee cultures, we surveyed a few of our previous coffee-related lists, such as America’s 50 Best Coffee Shops and The World’s Best Cities for Coffee, to find which cities had the highest concentration of acclaimed coffee houses. We also consulted with Erin Meister, coffee journalist and sales associate at Minneapolis-based Cafe Imports, who helped us learn about the world’s best coffee-growing regions, and is an all-around coffee genius. Then, we considered cities mentioned by other publications, such as Bustle and Travel + Leisure, to rank our list.
While stalwarts like Seattle and Portland, Oregon, are on this list, so are cities whose coffee scenes have blossomed only in recent years — and are all the more vibrant and interesting because of it. We put Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the world’s best cities for coffee, on this list because Hawaii is the only state that actually grows the coffee it serves. The other coffee shops on this list make an effort to ethically source beans with a variety of interesting and complex flavor profiles.
All it takes for a city to become a cultural hub for coffee is one great coffee shop; the rest will follow. This was the case for all the cities on this list. Who knows? Your city might be next.
Philadelphia is a well-known food town, and its coffee scene doesn’t trail too far behind. Erin Meister says it is one of the underdogs of American coffee culture. However, with shops like Elixr, where they eschew dark, ashy-tasting coffees for more citrusy notes, and Ultimo Coffee, which is near the very top of our list of America’s best coffee shops, Philly will certainly not stay the underdog for long. Make sure you get a cortado at Menagerie Coffee. While many mistakenly believe La Colombe began in New York, it was actually Philadelphia where founders Todd Carmichael and Jean Philippe Iberti founded what many consider the first modern coffee shop. And guess what? La Colombe just created the first-ever latte on tap.
#9 New Orleans
Café Du Monde is known the world over for its café au lait, where the chicory-spiced coffee pairs fantastically with beignets, but there are plenty of other, often overlooked coffee shops that are also worth a visit. Stop by Spitfire Coffee or Solo Espresso Bar, especially on Mondays, when they have a DIY toast bar with fresh-baked bread and homemade spreads. Expect lots of chicory.