From the historic streets of downtown Boston to the coastal neighborhoods of Santa Cruz, we’ve highlighted 11 of the best coffee cities well-known for their caffeinated brews. Each of these places boasts gourmet coffee shops on almost every corner, making it an impossible task to mention all of them. But we’ve featured our favorite in each city so you can sip more and search less! Whether you’re looking for coffee by the cup or beans by the bag, we think you’ll like these cities a whole latte.
After you decide which destination to visit, opt for a vacation rental from FlipKey to save money during your trip (we know how quickly those specialty coffees can add up!). Enjoy the benefits of extra space and full kitchens—many rentals even have coffeemakers, so you won’t have to leave the house without a cup of coffee to start your day. From modern city apartments to spacious vacation homes, FlipKey offers a variety of rentals to fit every budget and travel style.
While you’d think that Austin’s roasting temperatures might curb visitors’ appetite for java, Austin’s coffee scene is booming. And, as new coffee shops are popping up all over town, one continues to stand out: Caffé Medici. Austin’s original specialty coffee shop, Caffé Medici has been perfecting the art of pouring a cup of joe for more than 10 years. From well-balanced, classic coffee to sweet and fruity espresso with a chocolaty finish, the menu here has something to please all palates.
With long, cold winters and a massive student population, Boston is a city that insists on high levels of coffee consumption. While there are plenty of places throughout the city to fuel up for the day, Barrington Coffee Roasting Company offers some of the best in Boston. It was founded in 1993 out of two friends’ mutual love for everything coffee. Today, the self-described “power-coffee duo” prepares some of the finest coffees from around the world at their Roastery in Lee, MA. The coffee is then delivered fresh to customers and served at their two cafes in downtown Boston.
Known for a different kind of brew, too, Minneapolis is happy to share its local coffees all across the country. Case in point: Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co., which supplies its Orion blend to Caffé Medici on our list. With four cafes throughout Minneapolis, Spyhouse Coffee is a hub for students, professionals, and people of all walks of life. This independent coffeehouse serves an exceptional cup of coffee while educating customers about the sourcing, roasting, and brewing processes, from origin to consumption. Looking for something unique? Try the Spygirl, a latte with lavender and honey.
Philadelphia gets coffee fanatics’ stamp of approval—even Ben Franklin’s, a known coffee enthusiast and one of the city’s founding fathers. For some of the city’s finest brews, check out Joe Coffee, a family-owned shop with locations in Philadelphia and New York. The shop has both single-origin and blended offerings on the menu, which they roast in-house. Whether you take your cup on the go or lounge at the cafe, a flawless brew from Joe Coffee will perk you right up.
Looking to try the local java in Pittsburgh? Then head to Commonplace Coffee Roasters in Pittsburgh. Since its founding in 2003, multiple locations have opened throughout Steel City, all of which offer a “hug in a mug” with their flavorful brews. Get a boost of energy from a cappuccino or indulge your sweet tooth with a chocolaty mocha. You can’t go wrong, no matter what you order!
A foodie city in its own right, Portland is also a hub for coffee drinkers with Coffee By Design adding buzz to this coastal destination’s downtown. This combined micro-roastery and coffee bar brews a selection of coffees from exotic grinds, single-origin coffees, and rich roasts. With the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting in the air, you won’t be able to walk by without stopping in for some liquid joy in a cup.
With sweet “coffee milk” the state drink of Rhode Island, it’s no surprise that Providence makes the cut as one of the best coffee cities in the U.S. Get a quality cup of coffee—hot oriced—at Bolt Coffee Company in the heart of Providence’s historic district. This local purveyor of artisanal coffee expertly pours a precise and intense cup of coffee with each order. From unique carbonated coffees to double shots of espresso, the baristas here take great pride in their product and service, and it shows!
Santa Cruz made our list of the best coffee cities in America because of one-of-a-kind roasters like Verve. Whether you’re starting your day, searching for an afternoon pick-me-up, or need a caffeine fix before tackling the surf, this hot spot has something for everyone. While the shop’s roots remain in Santa Cruz, Verve can be found in cities across the world from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Can’t make it to one of those cities, but want to wake up to Verve coffee aromas every morning? Subscribe and have freshly roasted coffee delivered to your door!
What’s a list of the best coffee cities in America without Seattle? Home of the original Starbucks, there are also a multitude of lesser-known local coffee shops throughout the city. One such favorite is Convoy Coffee. For the perfect start to your morning, stop in for an espresso and a Salmonberry Goods pastry. Heading to Seattle for a weekend getaway? You won’t want to miss the weekend Ballard and University District Farmers Markets, where Convoy Coffee sets up a shop with bicycle carts. With its ever-growing rotation of single origin coffees, we recommend visiting often to try them all!
Home of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.—the standard-bearer for small-batch specialty coffee—Topeka holds its own among the best coffee cities in the country. This local coffee shop’s mission is simple: roast and brew an amazing cup of coffee from the freshest of ingredients. It specializes in serving Direct Trade coffee and espresso, but its diverse menu features options that will satisfy all tastes. From an afternoon meeting over lattes to an evening study break for coffee with Baileys, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. is a must-visit in Topeka.
Washington, DC’s coffee culture continues to expand year after year. The city has more than 1,000 coffee shops and cafes—meaning a jolt of caffeine is never out of reach. One such spot with rave reviews is Peregrine Espresso, a neighborhood cafe that prides itself on offering quality coffee with friendly service. Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet mocha with a dollop of whipped cream or a bold, flash-brewed iced coffee, you can bet Peregrine Espresso has it on the menu. Want to learn about what’s in your cup? The owners—Ryan and Jill Jensen—also love sharing their coffee knowledge with customers through monthly classes about coffee brewing and espresso.
Behind the counter at Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, four clear glass tubes are filled with bubbling water and steam. The steam inside the tubes creates a vacuum seal that shoots water into coffee grounds. The combination filters through the piston to create the most consistent cup of coffee possible.
I have been to Barrington several times since it opened last December, but I’ve never ordered a cup of coffee made this way, called a Steampunk machine. It looks intimidating. The machine, the manager of the shop tells me, is likely the only one in Boston.
Any barista using it to make a cup of coffee turns into a mad scientist. The manager, Teegan Jansen, poked at a tablet screen as steam billowed in the tubes in front of her. I stand back.
“It’s a thing to watch,” she said.
The Steampunk method of brewing coffee takes the simple product and advances it to a level not present at other shops. Barrington uses the Alpha Dominche Steampunk coffee brewer, and its industrial feel plays off the modern elements of the coffee shop.
We’re a nation of coffee drinkers, and lucky for us java junkies, there’s no shortage of great spots to get our caffeine fix. Check out some of the finest coffee shops in the country below and don’t forget to peruse the results from our annual coffee survey, which takes a look at how much we drink and pay — plus what people really think about that fancy latte art.
After two decades as a Berkshires-based micro-roaster, this company first expanded into cafe settings in Boston’s Fort Point, serving drip- and flash-brewed joe alongside artisanal teas and locally sourced pastries. A cool vibe meets coffee science at the newer Back Bay location, opened this winter, where a state-of-the-art machine brews pour-over-style drinks to precision with four futuristic glass cylinders.
Must-Order: Barrington frequently unveils new espressos with unique flavor profiles. Its latest: the 413, which boasts varietals created through the roaster’s long-term farm projects in India, Brazil and Colombia. You’ll find notes of malt, maraschino cherry and molasses.
On the Menu: Keep an eye out for tasty scones in varieties like bacon and Gruyère.
Once upon a time, simply saying “venti” was enough to make one feel oh-so-informed on coffee. Now, like wine aficionados, java junkies appreciate true complexity—the infinite symphonies of flavor notes, the nuanced impact of a bean’s terroir. This Berkshires-based roaster gets everything very right, Read more
Maybe it’s the big student population that needs all that late-night caffeine, but Boston has a pretty solid set of java joints. Each of these opened within the last year, adding a little extra buzz to the local coffee lover’s world. Read more
Talk to many coffee connoisseurs, and the comparison inevitably comes up: It’s a lot like wine. Coffee has tasting notes, just like wine. Wine types have tastings, coffee types have cuppings. Both groups smell aromas, swirl the liquid in a cup, and let it sit on your palate. Barrington Coffee Roasting Co. is starting to capitalize on some of this. Last week, they held an event where they offered side-by-side tastings of four wines and four coffees. This Friday, they’re having one where customers can come in and enjoy some coffee that tastes like wine. Read more
If you didn’t peer into their mugs, it might be hard to distinguish between a group of coffee gurus and beer aficionados slurping their beverages with furrowed brows as they waxed on about notes of citrus and smokiness. But over the last several years, these rival cults have turned their obsessive concern for fine beverages into an unlikely brew: coffee beer. Read more
Barrington Coffee Roasting Co. of Lee has been working directly with coffee farms in India for almost 20 years. Indian coffees, which win awards in Europe, are a rare find in this country. “They still do largely remain our little secret,” says Barrington’s cofounder Barth Anderson, who describes the coffees as “smooth and heavy bodied.” Kalledevarapura ($15.45- $17 for a ¾-pound bag) is available throughout the summer as flash-brewed ice coffee at Barrington Coffee’s Fort Point location. It also makes guest appearances, along with the limited edition Cauvery Peaberry, at various cafes around town. So now you’re in on the secret. Available at Barrington Coffee Roasting Co., 346 Congress St., Boston, 857-277-1914; Area Four, 500 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-758-4444; Cafe Fixe, 1642 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-879-2500; or go to www.barringtoncoffee.com.
Blind Assessment: Sweetly pungent, very deep, quietly complex. Sweet dark chocolate, clove, prune, hints of grapefruit and musky night flowers in aroma and cup. Soft but vibrant acidity; plush mouthfeel. Chocolate in particular carries into a very long, resonant finish.
Notes: El Diamante is produced by Patricia Perez Diaz and her mother on their family farm. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit www.barringtoncoffee.com or call 800-528-0998 for more information.
Who Should Drink It: Those who enjoy resonant depth and spicy, musky chocolate.