50 States of Coffee Shops
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Panther Coffee: Miami, Fla.
Panther Coffee in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood is only a quick 90-minute flight from Guatemala City. The easy access to Latin America makes developing direct-trade relationships with farms easier, and also means a diverse clientele of international coffee lovers, some who hail from the very same towns that grow Panther's coffees. Inside the shop, along with the hum of a vintage pre-World War II Probat coffee roaster, you can hear so many languages that it's easy to forget you're only a few minutes from Miami Beach.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hernandez
Go to: Panther Coffee
Cocoa Cinnamon: Durham, N.C.
Although many of the nation's best coffee shops have eschewed traditional beatnik atmospheres in favor of sleeker, more austere designs, those in North Carolina's Research Triangle maintain the collegiate attitude that as long as the couches are comfy, there's no need for them to match. Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham is a great example, making it a magnet for Duke students who're drawn to the laid-back environment and energizing coffees, which feature unique flavor additions like rose water and black pepper.
Go to: Cocoa Cinnamon
Onyx Coffee Lab: Bentonville, Ark.
The husband and wife behind Onyx have wholesale clients around the country, but the best place to drink their carefully roasted coffees is in their newest location in Bentonville. Their third cafe in Central Arkansas boasts a 360-degree brew bar, where a mix of friendly service, cupping classes and creative coffee-fueled drinks — like mint juleps and stout milkshakes — helps the shop make believers of locals who used to scoff at anything other than diner coffee.
Go to: Onyx Coffee Lab
Artifact Coffee: Baltimore, Md.
To celebrate its three-year anniversary, Artifact gave away free coffee for three days. While that idea might make the average coffee shop owner's head explode, Artifact isn't the average coffee shop. The brew-and-breakfast arm of the Woodberry Kitchen empire, Artifact serves Counter Culture's finest single-origin beans as pour-over, shareable Chemex or Japanese iced coffee, but also offers homemade soda and sangria. The kitchen cooks regional specialties like scrapple and a deluxe menu of soups, salads and sandwiches, which all makes a winning equation for a successful daytime operation. Once night falls and the coffee sales decrease, the community engagement just grows, thanks to the Artifact After Dark series, which offers customers a chance to connect with local chefs and artists.
Go to: Artifact Coffee
Cafe du Monde, New Orleans, La.
New Orleans is all about tradition, so although you can get an amazing shot at Cherry Espresso Bar, the best in show is the classic at Cafe du Monde. The atmosphere at the French Market location is pure NOLA; for 150 years there have been 24-hour lines of locals and tourists looking for their chicory coffee-and-beignet fix. And if your sweet tooth isn't satisfied by a mere pastry, walk your powdered sugar-coated figure next door to the neighboring Evan's Creole Candy Factory, which Café du Monde recently acquired.
Go to: Cafe Du Monde
Black Bear Coffee House: Denali Park, Alaska
Located just outside the entrance to Denali National Park, Black Bear is open only during tourist season, but for those four months it's a glowing example of coffee greatness. Staffed by baristas imported from around the country, who brew beans from SteamDot Coffee in Anchorage, the coffee is on point, as is the indulgent menu of pulled pork sandwiches and smoked-Gouda mac and cheese. But most of all, you can't beat the stunning view, with the mountains serving as an epic backdrop for live bands.
Go to: The Black Bear
Cafe Volan: Asbury Park, N.J.
The Garden State has its fair share of fantastic coffee shops, but if you're looking for the best selection of beans and vibes, head for the shore. This Asbury Park shop is located just a few blocks from the ocean and has the surfer-cool vibe that's more often associated with Venice Beach than Jersey. The crowds dwindle in the colder months, but the brews are still scorching-hot and especially delicious, given the boutique pedigree of their roasters, which range from Kuma in Seattle to Brandywine in Delaware, plus industry favorite Counter Culture.
Go to: Cafe Volan
La Colombe: Philadelphia, Pa.
Along with Blue Bottle, Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Revelator, La Colombe is a coffee company that might be coming soon to a corner near you. The Philly-based coffee roaster is helmed by one of the world's boldest coffee hunters (check out his Travel Channel show, Dangerous Grounds), who has led the company to pursue a perfect cup through innovations like proprietary brew methods and boundary-pushing drinks like a canned latte (one that's actually good!). La Colombe’s flagship Fishtown location offers the usual full espresso-drink menu, a manual brew bar and the world's first-ever draft latte. Add an in-house bakery, a wood-fired pizza oven, a tasting room and even a rum distillery, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the very best coffee shops in the country.
Go to: La Colombe Coffee Roasters
Publik Coffee: Salt Lake City, Utah
In a 4,000-square-foot converted printing press, this Salt Lake City roaster and coffee bar is housed in an almost entirely sustainable, solar-powered space. The house-roasted beans are sourced from farms around the world, including Peru, Rwanda, Costa Rica and Sumatra, and brewed on an Alpha Dominche Steampunk craft-brewing machine made in Utah. Food is also sourced locally, from area bakeries, chocolatiers and jam makers. In addition to the well-brewed coffee, the team serves clever seasonal specials like the autumnal Gryffindor, which swaps the pumpkin in a spiced latte for butternut squash.
Go to: Publik Coffee Roasters
Blue Bottle: San Francisco, Calif.
California's status as a coffee epicenter makes it nearly impossible to pick one single top shop. Angelenos who are proud of their hometown’s burgeoning status as one of the best coffee cities in America might disagree, but it's hard to argue with the influence and excellence of Blue Bottle's first shop. This humble kiosk in a Hayes Valley alleyway has inspired a multimillion-dollar empire of shops across the country, with fans gathering for pour-over, Cascara Fizzes and milky, chicory-infused New Orleans-style iced coffee.
Cuvée: Austin, Texas
Nitro cold brew is all the rage, but few people know that the trend began in Austin. Cuvée has been instrumental in jump-starting the city's specialty coffee culture, from supplying countless shops with wholesale beans to cracking the nitro cold brew market with its canned Black and Blue. After nearly a decade in the business, the owners finally opened a shop on East 6th Street that features several of their yearly roasts, as well as a featured coffee like their Hartebeest from southern Ethiopia. A solid list of local beers on tap rounds out the offerings, but one thing you won't find at this shop is Wi-Fi: It’s been disabled to help bolster conversation and a sense of community that's seldom seen in other shops around town.
Go to: Cuvée Coffee Bar
Daylight Mind: Kona, Hawaii
Aside from a few upstart farms in California, Hawaii is the only place in the country that grows coffee. But even on the islands, many coffees passed off as Kona contain only a small percentage of local beans, which are cut with cheaper coffees from elsewhere. Daylight Mind's Sweet Waves espresso uses 100 percent Kona, which tastes even better when consumed along the water's edge at their beachside cafe in Kona on the Big Island. It's also a great brunch option when accompanied by creative island cuisine like the Loco Moco: a sunny-side-up egg and coffee-braised short rib over hapa rice.
Go to: Daylight Mind
Slow by Slow: Boise, Idaho
There aren’t many coffee shops where customers can try 15 different coffees a month, especially in Boise, Idaho. Slow by Slow is a true anomaly, even by coffee-nerd standards. The cafe serves a buffet of single-origin offerings on a Hario V60 pour-over, plus seasonal housemade syrups for drinks like a thyme latte and a juniper fizz. The shop’s name is a rough translation from a Rwandan phrase ("buhoro buhoro”) that stresses the importance of putting time and care into one's work, a sentiment that Slow by Slow strives to embody.
Go to: Slow by Slow
Beantowne Coffee House: Hampstead, N.H.
Hampstead doesn’t seem the likeliest place to find the best coffee shop in the country, but this small town with a population under 10,000 has scored that accolade and many more, thanks to BeanTowne’s scientific approach to brewing a perfect cup of coffee, chased with an altruistic streak that's endeared it to its community. Armed with chemically flawless coffee water, brew methods conceived at MIT and direct-trade single-origin coffees, BeanTowne has the formula right for great coffee. But if you ask most of the customers, they're just as excited about pulling up a chair and catching up with an old friend as they are about drinking the best coffee in the country.
Go to: Beantowne Coffee House
Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Portland, Ore.
Aside from perhaps Seattle, there's no city in the country with a greater wealth of coffee than Portland. Shops like Barista stand out as examples of perfectly executed neighborhood cafes, and the coffees of boutique roasters like Heart and Coava are carried in discerning shops nationwide, which speaks to their quality. But there's one company whose coffee footprint overshadows them all. It's Stumptown, a roasting operation and chain of cafes that gambled on opening in an old burned-down hair salon back in 1999, only to become one of the most-ubiquitous coffee brands in the country. Several remodels later, they're still roasting in the original Division location, with their most-popular coffee, the Hair Bender Espresso, named in honor of the previous tenants.
Go to: Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Tandem Coffee Roasters: Portland, Maine
Housed in an old Portland gas station whose overhang provides shade for outdoor seating, Tandem's bakery location often has customers lined up out the door and drooling over to-die-for sticky buns, biscuits and coconut-almond cream pies. But Tandem isn't all pastries and beach-ready sandwiches: The proprietors are just as serious about their roasts, which range from seasonal blends like Time and Temperature (a mix of Ethiopian, Kenyan and Colombian beans) to single origins like a Kenyan peaberry with tasting notes of star fruit, tangerine and dark chocolate. Plus, they earn points with music nerds by partnering with local music shop KMA for The Good Thing, a monthly subscription that pairs coffees with vinyl records.
Go to: Tandem Coffee Roasters
Dark Matter: Chicago, Ill.
Chicago is a great coffee town, and although its most-famous export is Intelligentsia, the cafe not to miss is Dark Matter's Star Lounge. It was the company's first shop (it’s become a local chainlet), and the long wooden bar top is still the epicenter of Dark Matter's mad-scientist coffee empire. The Unicorn Blood espresso blend is the top seller, but what makes the company really stand out is a unique barrel-aging process that adds new levels of complexity to its carefully sourced Central American beans. Collaborations with bands like Mastodon and local street artists are a reminder that a successful cafe doesn't need to lose its counterculture edge.
Go to: Dark Matter
Blue State: New Haven, Conn.
New Haven has plenty of places where Yale students can fuel up on coffee between classes, and although most offer a generous boost of caffeine, none can match the philanthropic generosity of Blue State. Since opening in 2004, the company’s owners have donated over $635,000 to 250 local nonprofits. But their cozy York Street cafe wouldn't make this list if it was just a charity operation: They're also brewing some of the best coffee in the state, each blend selected on staff trips to origin countries. Although customers can't tag along to Honduras, they can read all about the experience via the Blue State blog.
Go to: Blue State Coffee
Sunergos: Louisville, Ky.
Sunergos started in 2003 with founder Brian Miller roasting coffee as a weekend hobby. That hobby grew into a Louisville cafe and roastery operation that's garnered awards for the best espresso in the country. Although most of the roasting magic now happens at the Woodlawn Avenue location in Beechmont, the original cafe on South Preston Street still houses their original machinery, in a space outfitted with thrift-store couches crowded with University of Louisville students enjoying seasonal coffees like a rare no-defect Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
Go to: Sunergos Coffee
Spyhouse: Minneapolis, Minn.
In the past 16 years, Spyhouse has become a Minneapolis institution. Each of its four cafes spread throughout the city has its own personality, but the one not to miss is Spyhouse Central. Built into the 100-year-old former home of a mattress company, it's an homage to the early 1900s, with reclaimed wood from Central Wisconsin and a selection of prime antiques from the owner's personal collection. If your budget allows, spring for one of their Imperial Reserve coffees like their current Honduran bean, which was crowned the very best of that country's crop. Or, if added flavors appeal to you, try the Spygirl, which features housemade lavender syrup and honey harvested from hives located atop neighboring buildings.
Photo courtesy of Wing Ta
Go to: Spyhouse
Foolish Things Coffee Company: Tulsa, Okla.
The owners at this Tulsa-based shop concede that in the face of today's technological wonders, taking time out to enjoy a simple cup of coffee might seem ... foolish. But when driving down Route 66 in Oklahoma, there's no wiser place to stop for a cup than this shop. It boasts an impressive lineup of coffee roasters, including its Arkansas neighbor Onyx, as well a style of hospitality that invites blue-collar construction workers to share community tables with hipper-than-thou graphic designers.
Lantern Coffeehouse & Roastery: Sibley, Iowa
Located in the fourth-least-populated county in the state, Lantern was opened in August 2010 by a couple who cut their teeth in the coffee industry in Minneapolis before deciding to raise their children in the small town of Sibley, just south of the Minnesota border. Its rural address makes Lantern a true outlier, but despite the far-flung location, the shop brings the town's 3,000 residents some of the best beans the world has to offer. That’s thanks to legendary sourcer Cafe Imports, which supplies premium unroasted beans like a floral Kenyan with a creamy body and notes of toffee, grapefruit and lemon.
PT's Coffeehouse: Topeka, Kan.
Kansas is best known for barbecued burnt ends, but the state's reputation for roasted beans is becoming just as illustrious. The standout among a surprisingly rich coffee scene is PT's Coffeehouse in Topeka, which has poured delicious coffees in a welcoming environment since 1993. The Midwestern keep-it-real mentality means they're laser-focused on making each shot of Flying Monkey espresso a rich, chocolatey experience, and their deep history in the industry means they can offer direct-trade coffees not found anywhere else. If it's available, be sure to try Rusty's Hawaiian, a micro-lot from the volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa.
Go to: PT’s at College Hill
Lamplighter Coffee Roasters: Richmond, Va.
Long before tall bikes were a hipster accessory, they were functional vehicles used in the 1800s to light hanging gas lamps. Lamplighter takes its name and logo from that bygone tradition, because it represents ideals of sustainability and the importance of daily rituals, one of the most crucial of which has to be a strong cup of coffee. The company was founded in 2009, and its original Addison Street cafe has become known as Richmond's living room, but if coffee geeks could choose one of their shops to live in, it'd be the Roast Lab, which offers one of the state's largest selections of single-origin coffees brewed to perfection.
Go to: Lamplighter Coffee Roasters
Barismo: Cambridge, Mass.
Located in Cambridge between Harvard and MIT, Barismo might be packed with famous authors, startup gurus and physics geniuses, as well as a revolving cast of students on any given day, but the lack of Wi-Fi keeps it from becoming just another computer lab. Though Barismo is far from the fastest or cheapest shop in town, its owners are determined to produce the best cup of coffee with the highest level of transparency, going so far as to publish the prices they pay for unroasted coffee beans on their website.
Go to: Barismo
Milktooth: Indianapolis, Ind.
In addition to highly Instagrammable brunch plates, Milktooth in Indianapolis serves some of the best coffee in the state. The coffee menu changes seasonally, with rotating roasters including locals like Tinker and industry favorites like Portland's Heart. It's a rare shop that offers so many different coffees (at least four), and even an even rarer one that serves creative coffee cocktails like the Daughter of Zeus (espresso, cascara chai, pomegranate and nutmeg) and Caffe Shakerado (espresso and Mexican brown-sugar syrup shaken over ice).
Go to: Milktooth
Madcap: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Every Friday, the owners of Madcap in Grand Rapids invite one of their baristas to craft a special menu that showcases drinks rarely seen outside of the insular coffee-competition circuit. A recent example featured four drinks inspired by France's winemaking regions, with a standout Champagne-influenced coffee cocktail featuring almond milk, juice from Champagne mangoes, vanilla and siphon coffee charged with CO2 to give it the requisite bubbles. It's just one of the unique features that's made this place a candidate for the best coffee shop in not just Michigan but the entire country.
Go to: MadCap Coffee Company
Devoción: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Choosing one coffee shop to represent New York is near impossible. There are die-hard fans of Joe, Grumpy and any old sidewalk coffee cart, but our nod goes to Devoción, a relative newcomer to Williamsburg that might just be the most-pleasant place to enjoy a cup of coffee in Brooklyn. The cafe is an oasis complete with skylight, living plant wall and 3,600 square feet of lounging space, making it an anomaly in a city where most coffee shops barely have elbow room. The coffee is flown in direct from Colombia and roasted on-site within 10 days of harvest, which is nearly unprecedented. The owner's long history in Colombia means much of the coffee is sourced from deep within conflict zones, adding even more exclusivity to the experience. But it doesn't come cheap: Rare single-origin espressos can cost up to $10 a shot.
Go to: Devoción
Cups Espresso Café: Jackson, Miss.
Cups has such a devoted following in Mississippi that one of its 11 shops in Jackson actually displaced a branch of a massive international coffee chain. Its original location and flagship is the Fondren Cafe, which brims with longtime regulars from all walks of life. The cafe’s footprint has tripled since it opened in 1993, and it’s kept evolving over time by offering the latest trends in nitro cold brew and manual pour-overs. But you won't just find the typical coffee snobbery here: This place is actually known for its Blondie, a sweet-as-sin latte with caramel and white chocolate.
Go to: Cups Espresso Cafe
Mothership Coffee, Las Vegas, Nev.
Although most visitors to Las Vegas don't make it outside the Strip, finding the best cafe in Sin City requires a trek out to the 'burbs. Out in Green Valley, in the suburb's oldest shopping center, Mothership meticulously roasts some of the tastiest beans in the country. The company is an offshoot of the city's first independent coffee shop, Sunrise Coffee House, but with a greater emphasis on delivering the best cup possible via careful sourcing, roasting and brewing of beans like their single-origin Peruvian espresso. The shop isn't huge — 20 people is enough to make it feel crowded — but the tight space comes with a great view of the in-store roasting operation. Pro tip: Don't miss one of the vegan Twinkies from their bakery.
Go to: Mothership Coffee
Barista Parlor: Nashville, Tenn.
Nashville's always been known for its music scene, but in the last few years the food scene has been catching up. Case in point: Barista Parlor, a world-class coffee destination built out of an old auto shop. When the garage doors open, a flood of sunlight hits the hip interior, which is made even cooler by vinyl records on the stereo. Originally started as a multi-roaster shop, the team has since transitioned to roasting the shop’s own coffee, which is brewed on some of the fanciest equipment in the state, including Slayer espresso machines and Kyoto-style drippers. And for those who pass on coffee, the housemade biscuit sandwiches alone make Barista Parlor worth a visit.
Go to: Barista Parlor
The Mud House: St. Louis, Mo.
In addition to crafting the best breakfast burrito in town, Mud House is the place to go for coffee in St. Louis. The draw isn't just the beans from nearby Blueprint Coffee (plus other national roasters) or the atmosphere (regulars come for those burritos and stay until closing): Part of the appeal is also the creative drink menu, which features unique coffee cocktails like a Dank and Stormy (cold brew, ginger, lime) and a cold-brew tonic infused with Fever Tree and served with an orange peel.
Go to: The Mud House
Omaha Bicycle Co.: Omaha, Neb.
It may seem like an odd fit, but bicycles and coffee make surprisingly great bedfellows, as proven by Omaha Bicycle Co. This place that they call “a retail mullet” — coffee in the front, bikes in the back — offers one of Omaha's best cafe experiences, thanks partly to beans from boutique Colorado roaster Sweet Bloom, but also to fan-favorite signature drinks like the Third Street Spicy Ginger Chai and the Lavender Fog (a chai with half Earl Grey tea, lavender syrup and your choice of milk). Come in for a tune-up for your bike and your morning.
Go to: Omaha Bicycle Co.
Press Coffee: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Crafted with reclaimed wood from the house of the person who invented the icebox, Press Coffee in Scottsdale fittingly offers Arizona one of its best summer defenses: signature cold brew. Available for sale in flasks or on tap (with nitro!), the cold brew is so popular that Press goes through 80 gallons a day among its four locations. Naturally, the chain is also brewing some of the best hot coffee around, served to a diverse crowd of customers including yoga moms and immigrant Albanian families enjoying a nostalgic espresso. Press can also boast that it was a harbinger of coffee-nerd culture, hosting the state's very first latte art throwdowns back in 2008.
Go to: Press Coffee
Compass Coffee: Washington, D.C.
It's only fitting that the best coffee shop in the capital is run by people who fought to protect our nation. Compass Coffee was started by a pair of former Marines who bonded over late-night coffees while deployed in Afghanistan. They did most of the fabrication at their Shaw neighborhood shop by hand, including the woodworking and welding. The coffee is also a DIY affair, roasted to match a flavor matrix they've devised to help customers find their favorite blend. The 80 seats and free Wi-Fi mean there's plenty of room to hang out, and campers are further encouraged to stay awhile by sandwiches and salads from local food incubator Union Kitchen.
Go to: Compass Coffee
Iconik Coffee Roasters: Santa Fe, N.M.
Some third-wave coffee shops serve coffee that's roasted so lightly that it barely registers on the palates of old-school cream-and-sugar types. But Iconik in Santa Fe bridges that gap, offering both trendy coffees like a Malawi Geisha with tomato-like acidity and honeydew-like sweetness, and traditional darker brews like a chocolatey Honduran. Another thing that makes this the go-to spot in Santa Fe for everything from first dates to business lunches? A kitchen that's renowned for one of the city's best patty melts.
Go to: Iconik Coffee Roasters
Twenty Below Coffee Co.: Fargo, N.D.
Radical inclusion is the theme at Twenty Below Coffee Co. in Fargo, where, in addition to serving organic coffees from Indonesia and Colombia, the staff hosts a daily lunch potluck for the team and whichever regulars happen to show up that day. Themes range from carbs to “Grandma's recipes,” and although a dedicated lunch hour isn't necessarily groundbreaking, it's the type of little thing that separates a true community space from just a place to pick up a cup of joe.
Go to: Twenty Below Coffee Co.
Revelator Coffee: Birmingham, Ala.
If you live in the South, expect to see an outpost of Birmingham-based Revelator near you soon. The group's brand of Southern hospitality, paired with specialty coffee served in sleekly designed spaces that resemble Apple Stores, is making big waves across Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana, but the Birmingham location is the flagship. The tastefully restored historic loft space offers a wide range of coffees that are roasted locally and served alongside handmade pies, doughnuts and other delicious pastries. As a bonus, Revelator pedals the state's best coffee bike, which can be found traversing downtown Birmingham.
Go to: Revelator Coffee
Phoenix Coffee Company: Cleveland, Ohio
Phoenix Coffee Company's newest cafe isn't easy to find. Hidden in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, it's a tiny shop that's barely visible from the street. Once you’re inside, though, a wealth of natural light illuminates reclaimed chairs from an old Youngstown schoolyard and a community table that was formerly housed in a Bible printing facility. Although they've been roasting coffee for over 25 years, the baristas here are still expanding their palates, thanks to recent hires like a certified Q grader who has been formally trained to identify the very best coffees the world has to offer. This place is just one more reason Cleveland rocks.
Go to: Phoenix Coffee Company
Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters: Jackson Hole, Wyo.
At Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters, great coffee runs in the family. Stefan Grainda is a third-generation roaster from Slovakia who learned the trade in Europe, then brought his expertise to America to serve this small Wyoming community. In 2010 he took the reins of this cafe, which has since doubled in size, adding a lofted second floor that serves as a popular work space. The coffee is all organic and is roasted old-school style, without any computers or automation, then brewed on custom equipment that Grainda has personally modified for the profile of his coffees. But the real secret? A complicated water-filtration system that makes the coffee far superior to any home brew.
Go to: Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters
New Harvest Coffee and Spirits: Providence, R.I.
Founded in 2000 in an old factory in Rumford, New Harvest's roastery has since been moved to a bigger and less drafty home capable of roasting enough coffee to supply shops in all 50 states. But when you’re in Rhode Island, the best place to try New Harvest’s coffee is in its small coffee shop and cocktail bar in the Arcade Providence, a hub of diverse retail and restaurants where the roastery’s owners have established a decidedly chill outpost for their coffees, as well as some of the rarest whiskeys in the state.
Go to: New Harvest Coffee & Spirits
Black Tap Coffee: Charleston, S.C.
Charleston likes to eat, and there's nothing that goes better before or after a meal than an excellent cup of coffee. Like the city itself, Black Tap's cafe treads the line between modern and classic, with timeless furnishings like tables crafted from reclaimed heart pine wood filling a sleek minimalist interior. But design aesthetics aside, coffee quality is the top priority here. The head roaster adjusts his parameters almost daily to make sure every cup brings out the best in the beans. And for those not able to visit Black Tap’s South Carolina shop, its online store offers a roaster's choice sample pack of three of its finest coffees.
Go to: Black Tap Coffee
Coffea Roasterie: Sioux Falls, S.D.
When Coffea Roasterie opened its doors in Sioux Falls in 2009, the owners’ goal was to serve the best coffees they could find. A red Probat roaster fired up batches of coffee sourced from award-winning farms like Finca Idolia in Guatemala, and over time their customers started to gravitate away from the more popular flavored lattes and toward the espresso and pour-over coffee. With the specialty coffee craze in full effect, these days customers walk up to the curved granite coffee bar with a taste for Colombian Geishas. For folks looking for more than just a cup of coffee, Coffea has expanded to a second downtown location that doubles as an art gallery and music venue.
Go to: Coffea Roasterie
Uncommon Grounds: Burlington, Vt.
Entering Uncommon Grounds from the busy pedestrian-only Church Street in Burlington, the first thing you see is a Probat L12 roaster. Beans are roasted fresh in-house, fueling the thirst for great coffee in this highly walkable historic neighborhood. And while the focus is on delivering a speedy cup rather than on fancy pour overs, the proprietors will still brew any of their dozen coffees with a Chemex, French press or Aeropress by request, with the type of care that comes only from a family business that's been operating for over 20 years.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery: Seattle, Wash.
With much respect to all the wonderful Seattle third-wave shops like Seattle Coffee Works, Cafe Vitta, Victrola and Slate (plus literally a dozen more), it's hard to deny the sheer impressiveness of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. There's no better way for average coffee drinkers to sharply ratchet up their understanding of roasting, brewing and enjoying coffee than to stroll through the massive space, casually soaking up knowledge from a dream-team staff of Starbucks employees imported from around the country.
Go to: Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Octane: Atlanta, Ga.
Octane was one of Atlanta’s first specialty shops, opening a Westside store in 2003, long before the area became a culinary destination. The neighbors might've originally worried about how long the shop would last, given the lack of like-minded businesses, but Octane beat the odds, becoming a vital caffeine pit stop and expanding to three other Atlanta shops and an outpost in Birmingham, Ala. There are usually several espressos to choose from (such as the classic Gravy, the fruitier White Lightning or a complex single-origin espresso), as well as signature drinks like the Americola, a Mexican Coke-and-espresso homage to the nearby Coca-Cola headquarters. And if you're only in Atlanta for a layover, you’re in luck: Octane's coffee is actually brewed at the Food Network Kitchen in the Atlanta International Airport.
Go to: Octane Coffee
Colectivo Coffee: Milwaukee, Wis.
Colectivo's 16 shops are a huge presence from Milwaukee to Madison, but the standout is their combination roastery and cafe in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. The 2,000-square-foot cafe has received a handful of design awards for its creative use of materials, and its opening in 2007 was a perfect match for the neighborhood's funky character. You can't go wrong with any of its coffees, but a great place to start is the signature Blue Heeler Blend, a dark Sumatran blend that emphasizes the beans’ earthy and spicy characteristics. And even if you're not a coffee fan, they've still got you covered, with their own line of organic teas.
Go to: Colectivo Coffee
Novo Coffee: Denver, Colo.
Novo began as a family coffee-roasting business in 2002 and has since grown into much more. In addition to having 100-plus wholesale accounts at other shops and restaurants, the company has spawned three shops of its own in the Denver area. Each has a unique personality, but the standout is the new Highlands location, which boasts a Modbar espresso system recessed into the counter to make it easier for the baristas to interact with customers and explain just what makes their coffee so special. The focus on relationships extends not just to customers, but also to farmers. A great example is the Hartman Honey, a smooth, nutty coffee with notes of melon that comes from a family farm in Panama that Novo has been working with directly for over a decade.
Go to: Novo Coffee
Brew Haha: Greenville, Del.
Brew Haha started with the goal of bringing the owner's love of Italian coffee culture to Delaware, and 20 years later it's been such a success that it has expanded to 10 shops. The newest location in Greenville is called “a cafe on steroids,” boasting seldom-seen brew methods like Seraphim and Siphon (the owner's personal favorite), as well as a menu of small plates and a serious cocktail program. But don't let the Negronis fool you: With the modest rustic furnishings and hodgepodge of framed paintings, this cafe still feels like you're right in the heart of Delaware.
Go to: Brew Haha
Wild Joe's Coffee Spot: Bozeman, Mont.
Inspired by the type of coffee shop in which Allen Ginsberg might've chosen to scribble poetry, Wild Joe's takes that beatnik energy, incorporates the latest specialty coffee trends and serves it all up in one of the country's most-unlikely locales: Bozeman, Montana. The century-old building formerly housed a motor supply shop and drugstore, and now is a regular meeting place for an assortment of characters ranging from astrophysicists to actual cowboys. Despite the country location, this isn't some pit stop brewing mass-market beans on a hot plate. Expect great beans from local roasters like Red Bird and Little Red Wagon, plus premium Montana milk from Kalispell Kreamery in all the lattes.
Go to: Wild Joe's Coffee Spot
Daily Grind Unwind: Martinsburg, W.Va
Martinsburg has been named the fastest-growing city in the state, which gives the residents of this big small town even more need to relax. For more than 10 years, Daily Grind Unwind has been a home away from home for the burgeoning community, where people come for the hand-dipped doughnuts and stay for some of the most-eco-friendly coffee in the world. The beans come from the Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, which produces 80 percent less emissions than the average roaster and buys wind-energy subsidies to cover the rest of the footprint. It's coffee that's good for the conscience and great for the soul.
Go to: Daily Grind Unwind