Coffee is the second most popular drink in the country — and the world — right after water. Although it is drunk in many different ways across the globe, Americans primarily prefer their coffee to be an on-the-go drink, although the seating areas in coffee shops are still popular for those looking to study, go on a date, or even have a business meeting.
Many of America’s best coffee shops are bastions of third-wave coffee — a movement in which coffee is more artisanal and the emphasis is on high quality over mass production. As a result of the third wave of coffee, more and more coffee shops are emphasizing their production process, making sure to utilize or partner with roasters and farms that demonstrate responsible methods of growing, harvesting, and processing coffee beans. [related]
Other important aspects of third-wave cafés include a direct relationship with coffee growers, traders, and roasters, as well as more skillful brewing, using high-quality beans, creating amazing latte art, and favoring single-origin coffee over blends. Along with the rising popularity of this movement has come the rising popularity of alternative coffee preparation methods, such as the use of vacuum coffee and pour-over brewing coffeemakers.
In order to determine which coffee shop was the best in each state, we started by combing through our own previous rankings and stories on local coffee shops. We then took a deep dive into existing rankings and review sites to get an idea of which cafés and coffee-focused restaurants are the most renowned and well-loved according to both locals and tourists. Above all, we looked for shops with a nice sit-in area, a high level of barista skill and creativity, multiple food options that vary throughout the day, a variety of specialty coffee drinks, originality, and a high level of service.
Most, we found, were small businesses with just one or two locations, although a few have managed to branch out into top coffee chains. Many are known for their friendliness and ease of ordering, so that you don’t have to learn how to speak Starbucks. If you’re looking to make a caffeine-fueled cross-country road trip, map it out so that you can make stops at the best coffee shop in every state.
The Red Cat/Yelp
Located in the hip city of Birmingham, The Red Cat's motto is "coffee for everyone," a motto they live up to by providing specialty coffees yet making them accessible to everyone from coffee aficionados to novices. Wraps, salads, paninis, and soups also grace the menu to accompany your coffee, as do delicious breakfast options from organic grits to spanakopita.
As with most of the best food and drink in Alaska, you’ll have to take to Anchorage to find the best coffee. Adjoined to a restaurant that has plenty of great food, the coffeehouse at South Restaurant + Coffeehouse has some great snacks to munch on too. Serving Kaladi Brothers coffee and espresso, the coffeehouse also has teas, juices, and soda along with milkshakes, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, salads, and more.
Lux Central is like hipster central — which doesn't have to be a bad thing. The super hipster vibe isn't just because they hand roast their coffee in-house; typewriters and antiques decorate the tables while live music or a DJ sets the mood for what results in perfect Instagram-fodder. The bakery has all sorts of pies, teacakes, cupcakes, bear claws, and more, but if you're feeling a bit hungrier, there's a full menu for each meal full of creative dishes. In addition to the coffee – made with beans sources from Brazil, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Panama, and Sumatra – the drinks menu also includes beer, wine, and cocktails.
Kollective Coffee + Tea/Yelp
Next time you're spending a relaxing weekend getaway in Hot Springs, Arkansas, check out Kollective Coffee + Tea, a coffee and tea house that specializes in local and organic products. All of their coffee and artisanal foods are certified organic or natural, and Kollective strives to offer top-quality locally-sourced products. They're also a great gathering place for the community; on Mondays, they host chess playing for homeschoolers of any age and any skill level, and on Wednesdays they have a poetry night where creative minds can come together.
Boxcar Coffee Roasters goes the no-frills, old-school route when it comes to coffee. Their roaster is a 1929 German Rapid coffee roaster, and they brew their coffee cowboy-style — one of the most traditional ways of brewing, which involves heating coffee grounds with water. This ensures the perfect temperature to enjoy the various flavors in your coffee: blueberry, citrus, chocolate, and brown sugar among others.
Located in the Brooklyn-like East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, The Coffee Pedaler is a low-key coffee shop that started as one person on selling coffee from a cart attached to their bicycle. While they don't literally pedal coffee anymore, they do peddle unique specialty drinks like their honey lavender latte or spiced cider with chai. Have a Montreal-style bagel that’s been wood-fired in their brick oven to go along with it.
Using sustainable methods and a determination to offer everything fresh, Drip Café is determined to bring their customers ethical, fresh, and delicious coffee and food. The café is both coffee-novice friendly and eco-friendly, using a full, single-stream recycling program as well as composting all their filters, grounds, and vegetable waste to help save the planet. It also doesn't hurt that they have the best pancakes in all of Delaware.
Serving coffee brews from Counter Culture Coffee and organic teas from Rishi Tea, Condesa Coffee ensures high-quality drinks along with a cozy vibe. Their handcrafted cocktails are worth checking out, as is their food menu which includes items such as crispy liège waffles and adult grilled cheese sandwiches.
Daylight Mind Coffee Company/Yelp
Take in a gorgeous ocean view along with sweet and bitter tastes of high-end coffee and delicious pastries at this Hawaiian coffee shop. Daylight Mind, which sources directly from farmers with the highest quality beans, also has a notable coffee program that consists of their roastery and education classes.
Big City Coffee is known for their in-house baked goods, such as their Cherry Pie Scone and Pumpkin Chai Muffin. Of course, their coffee is fantastic as well; try the Bit O' Honey Latte or their iced orange coffee. The eclectic interior gives it a super cozy, local feel that makes the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee is a beloved coffee roaster and rapidly growing chain with locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston (as well as training labs in Austin and Atlanta), and it's not hard to see why the rest of the country would want to get in on Chicago's best coffee. Sourcing their coffee beans from around the world through direct trade, Intelligentsia is dedicated to teaching the public about how they roast and serve with events, classes, and a grueling barista training program for those who are interested.
Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company is a not-for-profit, family-run business dedicated to being a community-building space as well as a coffee shop. It's a great place for artists and art-lovers; you'll find paintings, pottery, woodwork, and even greeting cards by local artists displayed here, and local poets and singers also share their music and poetry in this space as well. Their ethically-sourced coffee is from Rwanda, Guatemala, and Burundi, and they have a namesake blend — Fletcher Place Blend — that mixes Ugandan and Colombian coffee for a taste that includes caramel, citrus, fruit, and oak.
Located in the super hipster city of Des Moines, Horizon Line Coffee sources unique coffees from around the world in an ethical way and brings them home to a space that they try to keep as inclusive as possible to create an environment filled with coffee and happiness. A minimalistic look characterizes the shop, which also sells snacks such as scones and cookies to accompany your pick-me-up.
PT's Coffee Roasting Co. has three locations in Kansas, but the one next to Washburn University is by far the most acclaimed. The atmosphere is perfect for a lunch break, study session, or even a business meeting, and their espressos, lattes, drip coffee, and pour-over coffee is top-notch. Their varied food menu and a rotating craft beer tap and seasonal cocktail menu means there's something for everyone.
Sunergos has expanded to four locations throughout Louisville, bringing good coffee and hospitality to all those who walk through its doors. If that's not enough for you, they also offer subscriptions to their coffees as well as a wholesale program that involves not just providing coffee, but also coffee equipment and training.
The best thing to make your coffee even more enjoyable is a yummy, fresh doughnut, and so to find the best coffee shop in Louisiana, you'll have to go where they sell the best doughnuts. District Donuts Sliders Brew's coffee philosophy is quality over quantity — partnering with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, they serve small-batch roasted coffee that is made with profile roasting, a technique in which coffee beans are roasted individually to maximize their flavor. As for the doughnuts, in addition to their classic cinnamon sugar and chocolate glazed flavors, District is known for their unusual and experimental varieties such as sriracha-maple, candied thyme, blueberry lemon, and the "croquenut" — a cross between a doughnut and the croque madame.
One of the coffee roasters we love most, Bard Coffee has a cute, minimalistic shop in Portland that's the perfect place to sit for a quick catch-up, study session, or even just to unwind with a cup of joe. The coffee here is known to be prepared with care, and the pour-over coffee in particular is quite popular.
Artifact Coffee is a coffee and espresso bar that's big on community, regularly holding events such as readings, pop-up shops, and meet-ups. On the menu, you'll find a solid espresso bar, as well as a coffee bar that includes pour-over coffee, Chemex, and Japanese cold brew. Tea lovers will also appreciate the different flavors — both hot and cold — at the tea bar, and the drinks menu also includes wine, cocktails, and whiskey, rum, or amaro for your espresso.
Pavement Coffeehouse is a small chain in Boston that just might give Dunkin' Donuts a run for its money. Delicious coffee and an artistic vibe welcome patrons here; guests can choose from an extensive menu that notably includes homemade bagels, a variety of sandwiches, and lattes that can be matcha, Spanish, chai, and more.
If you're ever visiting Detroit, head over to Corktown — Michigan's Brooklyn — to find a great coffee scene starring Astro Coffee, a small shop that's been featured in The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveller, and Bon Appetit, among others. They offer a variety of tea and coffee sourced from many different roasters and producers, as well as locally sourced baked goods and sandwiches. The flat whites here are especially notable, and their egg sandwich is amazing, made with soft-scrambled eggs, fresh herbs, and aioli on an Italian roll.
Defining the coffee scene in Minneapolis for quite some time now, Spyhouse Coffee is a popular local chain with beautiful facilities and even more pleasing coffee. Dedicated to sustainability through practices that reduce waste and to community-building through contributing to local charities and supporting the arts community, it's a must-visit for coffee lovers visiting the Twin Cities. For those too far away to enjoy it in person, the company also sells their coffee and some cool merchandise online.
Among the creative spaces and coffee shops that line the hipster neighborhood of Fondren in Jackson, Mississippi, is a true gem called Sneaky Beans. Couches and books give this coffee spot a cozy and relaxed vibe, and they have an impressive tea selection along with their high-quality coffee sourced from Mississippi-based Bean Fruit Coffee Company. Other drinks are available if you're not up for caffeine, including beer, and Saturday mornings mean breakfast with handmade biscuits, grits, quiches, and more.
Kansas City is one of the best cities in America for coffee, and Quay Coffee is a big reason why. They keep their menu simple yet high-quality, with a guest roaster program in which they taste coffee from all around the country and Canada before ordering the absolute best. Making sure that their roasters work with direct trade coffee, Quay is dedicated to ethical sourcing and good service. The shop is a great place to study, socialize, meet, or work with baristas that are friendly and welcoming.
Using craft organic coffee from around the world but roasted right in Missoula, Black Coffee Roasting Company is an eco-conscious endeavor that puts a lot of hard work into making sure their customers have the perfect cup. Enjoy one of their many different types of toast — from avocado to creamed honey — along with high-quality coffee or a tea from their varied selection.
A nice, relaxing spot in Omaha, Culprit Café has extensive breakfast and lunch options but it's their coffee and tea that are truly impressive. Have a double shot, a pour-over, a matcha latte, or the Cool Hand (espresso, milk, and a flavor of the month). If you're feeling a bit boozy, go for their coffee cocktails — in addition to the Irish coffee, they have drinks like Loose Lips (bourbon, Angostura, cold brew, ginger syrup, and candied ginger) and the Adult Cappuccino (espresso, frothy milk, Noel chocolate, and Chartreuse).
Handmade lattes, pour-overs, and drip coffee are all available at Sunrise, a coffee shop that puts a lot of care into every cup. The coffee here comes from micro co-ops in single-origin farms, and Sunrise Coffee also makes sure to stay as eco-conscious as possible. The menu is filled with vegetarian and vegan foods, as well as gluten-free options, giving customers plenty of tasty and healthy, yet still affordable, choices.
Meant to be community-building space for the town of Milford, Union Coffee Company is an intentionally warm and welcoming spot for local residents or even visitors to stop by. In addition to bar seating and tables, Union has an outdoor patio for when the weather is nice. When it's not, you'll enjoy trying your hand at house guitars, playing board games, checking out their lending library, or even just taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Of course, the best reasons to come here in the first place are the delicious drinks made from responsibly sourced, single-origin coffee beans, organic milks (with soy and almond as options as well), and organic syrups as well.
Bwè Kafe specializes in Haitian coffee specifically as part of the owner's long-standing endeavors to assist the children and youth of the beautiful yet disaster-stricken country. Maryanne Fike, a Hoboken resident and owner of Bwè Kafe, co-founded Love for Haiti/the Ark Project as a 501c3 organization meant to assist Haitian youth in getting a better education, and a portion of the café's proceeds go towards the endeavor. Have your delicious Haitian coffee with a pour-over or the Japanese slow drip cold brew.
A family operation, Espresso Fino specializes in locally roasted, certified organic fair trade coffee that's both delicious and affordable. You can get coffee or tea for as little as $2, and there are all types of espresso drinks for you to choose from. The pastries are baked before dawn and fresh every day, sometimes including treats like lime coconut scones and apricot almond pastries.
Possibly the best coffee shop in the nation, Everyman Espresso caters to coffee snobs as well as newbies. As the Village Voice once put it, Everyman Espresso has a friendly atmosphere for those who are "tired of nerdy coffee shops that deliver great drinks but make you feel like a moron." The shop — which has three locations, in SoHo, East Village, and the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope — has plenty of non-dairy options such as soy, oat, and almond milk, as well as delicious treats like doughnuts and macaroons to accompany their delicious coffee.
Sourcing high-quality coffee from farms around the world with which they have a direct relationship, Jubala goes the extra mile for its customers. Getting their coffee roasted twice a week to order by Counter Culture Coffee in neighboring Durham, they refuse to sell any coffee that's older than 14 days off roast. Enjoy it with Liège waffles or Southern-style biscuits topped with all kinds of ingredients from apple butter to seasonal jam to maple bacon or pimento cheese.
Fireflour Pizzeria + Coffee Bar/Yelp
The fresh brick oven pizza at Fireflour Pizzeria + Coffee Bar may or may not be the reason why this is considered the best coffee spot in North Dakota. Partnering with Minneapolis-based Dogwood Coffee, Fireflour serves craft coffee and has a simple yet high-quality menu with single-origin pour-over coffee and espresso drinks.
The menu changes up quite a bit at Coffee Emporium, featuring to-go foods like pastries, breakfast burritos, and bagels, as well as items like sandwiches, salads, and soups for when you want to eat in. Their artisan-roasted direct trade coffee is pretty constant, however, will all kinds of blends, including their signature Emporium Blend which includes chocolate, guava, and citrus flavors. Coffee Emporium's two locations are located in East Hyde Park and the hipster Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, the latter of which also houses the roastery.
Cuppies and Joe gets its cute name from the fact that the shop specializes in cupcakes and coffee, both of which are notoriously delicious here. Enjoy gourmet locally-sourced coffee and freshly baked cupcakes, pies, and other treats made with sweet cream butter, Ghirardelli chocolate, and Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla.
With three gorgeously minimalistic locations, Heart is a leader in Portland's already impressive coffee scene. The specialty coffee roasting company not only offers its delicious green coffee — made from beans originating in Africa, Central America, and South America — in store but it also has it available for shipment throughout the country, along with the very equipment they use to brew it.
Aaron and Elizabeth Ultimo met working in a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., and when they moved to Philadelphia in 2009, they brought their love and their coffee with them. Ultimo Coffee has three locations in the city, as well as its own roastery and lab, which means that they select and roast their own coffees to make sure they serve their customers the best.
In addition to direct trade coffee and grass-fed dairy, The Shop sells handmade pastries made by local bakeries. The baristas here are both skillful and passionate, ready to serve you any of their single-origin and blended coffees, espressos, or the nitro cold brew that's available, in addition to loose-leaf tea, lemonade, and hot cocoa.
Located in Greenville, the most underrated place in South Carolina, Methodical Coffee has been featured in multiple top publications, receiving praise from The New York Times, Vogue, Bon Appétit, and USA Today among others. In addition to their high-quality espresso and typical brews, they're also known for specialty drinks such as the tres leches or spiced honey latte.
Pure Bean lives up to its name, using exclusively ethically sourced green coffee beans that are carefully roasted for the smoothest and most perfectly balanced cup of coffee. The convection heat used on the air-roasted beans also means that there are lower levels of the acids that tend to give you an upset stomach. It's also the perfect place to have a study session or to catch up with a friend, with benches and couches for customers to sit on.
Barista Parlor has three shops in Nashville, each of which work with local artists, bakeries, businesses, and farms to bring customers seasonal, locally sourced fare in a friendly, artistic atmosphere. Enjoy specialty espressos like bourbon vanilla and whiskey caramel, and make sure you try their biscuits and waffles.
Using the Orion blend from Minnesota's Spyhouse Coffee Roasters, Caffé Medici's espresso has a fruitier taste with a chocolate finish, and their daily house coffee is Wild Gift's Troublemaker — citrus flavors with a kick of mango, pineapple, and caramel. You'll also find that the chain’s five Austin locations have some of the best hot cocoa in the country.
The first artisan roaster and siphon coffee bar in Salt Lake City, Caffé D'Bolla is a family-owned business that's won awards for its coffee roasting — done in small batches with single-origin beans. Sourcing micro-region, micro-lot, or single-estate coffees, Caffé D'Bolla ensures their product comes from sustainable farms that produce the best coffee possible.
Getting direct trade coffee beans from Counter Culture Coffee, Maglianero is a café that looks to be yet another hub of creativity in Vermont's answer to Brooklyn. Art decorates the walls, and there's even indoor bike parking, all perks to a place that's already home to great coffee and wonderful locally baked treats.
You don't need to pick between the benefits of coffee and wine; enjoy the best of both at Northside Social Coffee & Wine. In addition to coffee — hot or iced — and espresso, you can also have tea and chai lattes for your caffeine fix. The wine bar has all sorts of different wines — sparkling, white, rosé, reds, amber — as well as cocktails, and you can't go wrong with the breakfast sandwiches, quiches, or dinner fare such as pimento cheese deviled eggs and meatball skewers.
The recently renovated Milstead & Co. is a shop with both a beautiful interior and beautiful roasts — emphasis on the plural. One of the most cutting-edge coffee shops in Seattle, Milstead is known for using the multi-roaster model in which they use beans from different coffee roasters, both big and small, to blend the best coffee possible.
In addition to good service and good coffee, Peregrine Espresso is a shop that cares deeply about education and sustainability. Baristas from all three locations further their coffee knowledge and prowess through regional and national barista and brewers competitions, and Peregrine also holds classes and events meant to further educate the public about coffee. In addition to a wide variety of coffees, they serve some of the best hot chocolate in D.C., as well as organic tea, croissants, muffins, tea cakes, fruit scones, fig bars, and more. You'll enjoy it even more knowing that Peregrine Espresso puts a big emphasis on composting and recycling, utilizing reusable glass milk bottles and wind power.
A self-described "coffee, tea, juice, and smoothie fine arts beverage emporium," Lost Dog Coffee is beloved by locals, and for good reason. Not only are the bartenders here exceedingly friendly, but they're also super creative and willing to come up with a specialty drink or dessert perfect for you.
With a few locations throughout Milwaukee — including a café in Bay View that also serves pizza — Anodyne Coffee offers a friendly, warm atmosphere with excellent coffee. Try one of the classic types or go for a specialty such as a Honey Bee (a latte with honey and vanilla), Frosty (mocha espresso with mint), or My Buddy (an almond and vanilla cappuccino.)
A great spot for coffee and art lovers, Paramount Café's espresso gold roast is custom-made for them with Brazilian and Colombian beans in addition to a secret aged bean. You can also get non-caffeinated drinks, as well as typical coffeehouse fare. They also have a "super secret menu" with blended drinks like the Vahizzle (vanilla and hazelnut latte), Super Saiyan (raspbery, hazelnut, and Ghirardelli chocolate), and Butter Beer (vanilla latte and Ghirardelli caramel sauce), all of which could give Starbucks' secret menu a run for its money.
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