Special Report

The Best Independent Coffee Shops in America

Courtesy of Roast'd Coffee (Fort Lee, NJ) via Facebook

Over the years, the coffee shop has become much more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee on our way to work. The best ones become like second homes, with coffee and espresso drinks sourced with intention and made with care and a welcoming place to hang out and socialize, and sometimes work.

The term “coffee shop” used to imply what today we think of more as a diner (think of Monk’s Café, the coffee shop the “Seinfeld” gang used to frequent), but today the term is more-or-less interchangeable with a place specializing in coffee and maybe pastries and other light fare – like Central Perk, the beloved hangout on “Friends.” (These are the best coffee cities in America.)

To determine the best independent coffee shops in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed and extrapolated from articles and rankings on a wide range of websites, including Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Fodors, The Culture Trip, Time Out, Eater, Cheapism, Big Seven Travel, and Yelp, as well as numerous state and local coffee shop listings. Only shops with three or fewer locations were considered.

What makes a coffee shop great? Many source their coffee beans from the world’s best producers, build close relationships with the growers themselves, and roast their own beans in-house. And if they don’t roast their own beans, they curate their offerings by partnering with like-minded roasters.

Click here to see the best independent coffee shops in America

Some great coffee shops treat their coffee selection like a wine list, allowing guests to sample a variety of single-origin coffees and learn about the climate, soil, and terrain of where they’re grown – each affecting the flavor and aroma. Other places source their coffee from a single well-respected roaster and turn them into a wide array of drinks that go beyond what you’ll find at your local Starbucks. (If that ubiquitous chain is your thing, though, you’ll want to make note of the Starbucks capitals of America.)

Whatever the particulars, they all have something to offer beyond just a caffeine buzz.

Source: Courtesy of Coburn S. via Yelp

Artifact Coffee
> City and state: Baltimore, Maryland

At Baltimore’s Artifact Coffee, coffee is just the beginning. That’s not to say they don’t do coffee right: there’s a full lineup of espresso-based drinks as well as Japanese-style iced coffee, a Chemex for two, and even Moroccan-spiced iced coffee. But there’s also a huge food menu with everything from breakfast pastries, bowls, and sandwiches to lunchtime salads, soups, and sandwiches, including French dips, mushroom Reubens, and veggie banh mi. And if you’re looking for something with a kick, there are even wines by the bottle and local craft beers.


Bandit Coffee
> City and state: St. Petersburg, Florida

The charming Bandit Coffee Co. is bright and spacious, and has lines out the door nearly every day. The coffee here is carefully sourced and roasted in-house, and is THE place in town for serious coffee drinkers to get their fix. There’s a Staple Blend that’s rich in chocolate and caramel notes, but their single-origins — including Reserva Palmichal from Colombia and Haru Welabu from Ethiopia — are truly spectacular.

Source: Courtesy of Bard Coffee

Bard Coffee
> City and state: Portland, Maine

Located in the heart of downtown Portland’s Old Port neighborhood, Bard Coffee is an airy and inviting coffee house that specializes in single-origin coffees roasted in-house. Opened in 2009, Bard has made it their mission to tell the story of the people and places their coffee comes from in each cup, and they’ve built relationships with each of their growers, including Francisca and Oscar Chacon in Costa Rica and Olvin Rivera in Honduras (their website also offers photos and bios of each). Beans are roasted using a top-of-the-line Loring Smart Roast by head roaster Bill Guddeck.

Source: Photo by Ellie W. via Yelp

Bird & Branch
> City and state: New York City, New York

Located a couple blocks west of Times Square, Bird & Branch is a specialty coffee shop run by a couple who are committed to giving back to the community. The shop operates as a job-training program for people with barriers to employment; they teach their trainees barista skills as well as soft skills required to obtain and retain employment. As for the coffee, they get theirs from San Francisco-based Saint Frank, which sources their beans through direct trade with growers. They’re serving single-origin cups and also turning it into signature drinks like the Blackbird, a latte made with espresso, blackberries, thyme, and housemade almond macadamia milk.


Source: Courtesy of Black Cup - Cafe Del Mundo via Facebook

Black Cup
> City and state: Anchorage, Alaska

Going strong since 1975 (making it a true pioneer in the world of craft coffee), Black Cup was founded as Café Del Mundo by Perry Merkel after traveling through Central America touring coffee farms. He started roasting his own coffee in a small shed, and as word got out and more people stopped by to get their first taste of fresh roasted coffee, business exploded. Merkel retired in 2011, and the new owners renamed it Black Cup, on a mission to serve “Extraordinary Coffee Best Served Black.” Their emphasis has always been on farm-to-cup transparency, roasting to promote origin characteristics, coffee education, and delivering the world’s finest coffees to Alaskans.

Source: Courtesy of Paul A. via Yelp

Black Fox Coffee Co.
> City and state: New York City, New York

A specialty coffee company serving New York City since 2016, Black Fox has three Manhattan locations, and is roasting its own coffee as well as showcasing coffees from esteemed roasters around the world. single-origins include Biftu Gudina (from a co-operative of farmers in the Jimma region of Ethiopia) and Victor Hugo Quiroga (from a small four-hectare plot of land in Colombia). And they’re one of the few coffee shops sourcing internationally-roasted coffees, like beans from Square Mile in London and 49th Parallel in British Columbia. Even the matcha used in their matcha tea is single-origin. Pastries are provided by local favorite Pain D’Avignon.


Source: Courtesy of Rachel A. via Yelp

Blue Sparrow Coffee
> City and state: Denver, Colorado

Denver’s Blue Sparrow is a classic neighborhood coffee shop. Their mission is to showcase coffees from some of America’s best roasters, featuring them on a rotating basis. Roasters they’ve featured have included Alabaster from Williamsport, Penna.; Land & Water from Santa Rosa, Calif.; and Tailored Coffee Roasters from Eugene, Ore. Kombucha, Japanese-style iced coffee (which is brewed hot and flash chilled over ice), and CBD-infused iced coffee are on tap, and pastries from local bakeries including Black Box Bakery and Genova’s Biscotti are on sale.

Source: Courtesy of J G. via Yelp

Civil Goat Coffee
> City and state: Austin, Texas

Founded by expert roaster Chris O’Brien (and named after his pygmy goat, Butters), Civil Goat Coffee is roasting and brewing specialty coffee with beans sourced from sustainable farms all over the world. Located in the eclectic Austin neighborhood of Cuernavaca, the shop’s mission is to be a space that promotes the exchange of new ideas, fosters creativity, and encourages locals to slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee. They’re roasting a popular house blend as well as single-origins including Los Encinos from Guatemala and Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, available by the cup, by the bag, and through a delivery-based subscription service.

Source: Courtesy of Crema Coffee Roasters via Facebook

Crema Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Nashville, Tennessee

Located in the heart of Nashville, Crema Coffee Roasters opened in 2007 after being (literally) built by hand by owners Ben and Rachel Lehman. Three years later, they finally began roasting their own beans, which they source from farmers they know and trust. Each coffee bag label has origin details down to the farm or mill where the coffee was processed, and they pay above fair trade market value for their beans. It’s also a zero waste and completely carbon neutral business. Four single-origin coffees are available by the cup at any time; a flight of all four will seriously boost your coffee knowledge.


Source: Courtesy of Coloromotio R. via Yelp

> City and state: Los Angeles, California

Whereas most coffee shops either roast their own coffee or serve coffee sourced domestically, at Dayglow, they’re serving coffee from some of the world’s most renowned coffee roasters, including Father’s Coffee in the Czech Republic, Process Coffee in Northern Ireland, and La Cabra in Denmark. Each month they feature several roasters, and they also sell coffee by the bag, most of which comes from Coffee Collective in Denmark. Dayglow has also become popular for their creative coffee drinks and fresh vegan doughnuts.

Source: Courtesy of Deeper Roots Coffee via Facebook

Deeper Roots Coffee
> Location: Cincinnati

After forging a cooperative relationship with a community of coffee farmers in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala, a group of friends founded Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati in 2011. Since then, they’ve continued to collaborate with like-minded coffee producers from diverse regions, exploring taste, quality, and sustainability. Deeper Roots started as a roastery, but they’ve since opened three coffee bars in town, and each is quaint and charming. For aspiring coffee aficionados, they also offer a variety of classes from cupping to espresso making to manual brewing methods.


Source: Courtesy of Mark Nowell M. via Yelp

> City and state: Brooklyn and New York City, New York

Devoción has two locations in Brooklyn and one in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood, and it stands out from the pack by their unique sourcing and roasting process: all their beans come from more than 1,000 farm partners in Colombia, where they’re processed at Devoción’s own facility in Bogotá. They’re then quickly flown to their Brooklyn roastery, where they’re freshly roasted and served as quickly as possible. The end result is a cup of coffee that’s exceedingly fresh; it can go from farm to cup in as little as ten days, where others can take up to a year. It was launched by Colombian-born Steven Sutton in 2006 on a singular mission to produce the freshest coffee imaginable, and it’s safe to say that he succeeded.

Source: Courtesy of grayson l. via Yelp

East Pole Coffee
> City and state: Atlanta, Georgia

East Pole opened in Atlanta in 2017 with a goal to buck and dispel the unfortunate pretentious norms that so often come with specialty coffee culture and to create a warm, inviting environment. Instead of ordering at the counter, guests order and are served at their seat, and their industrial space is sleek and bright. All drinks are made with care, and they’re roasting single-origins including Cyimbili Reserve from Rwanda, Santiago Atitlán from Oaxaca, Mexico, and their flagship, Traffic, from Honduras. 

Source: Courtesy of Elm Coffee Roasters via Facebook

Elm Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Seattle, Washington

It’s no small feat to be the best coffee shop in a city as coffee-obsessed as Seattle, but Elm Coffee Roasters, going strong in Pioneer Square since it was founded by Brendan Mullally in 2013, has a fair claim to the title. Mullally partners with producers and importers from around the world to source the highest-quality green beans on earth and roasts them on-site. Brewed to order, the results are served with a smile in an inviting, high-ceilinged space. Offerings include Kenya Nyeri Gatugi AB (cranberry, baking spice, molasses), Colombia Adelino Urbano (apple raspberry, dulce de leche), and Guatemala Lazaro Costanza (lemon lime, stone fruit, caramel).


Source: Courtesy of Espresso Fino via Facebook

Espresso Fino
> City and state: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Downtown Albuquerque’s cozy and charming Espresso Fino is an espresso bar serving expertly prepared iced and hot coffee and espresso drinks. All coffee is locally roasted, certified organic, and Fair Trade. Owner Greg Flores can usually be found behind the counter pulling espresso shots himself, and he and his employees are all friendly and knowledgeable.

Eternity Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Miami, Florida

Miami’s Eternity Coffee Roasters is incredibly meticulous about their coffee. All their coffee is grown on their family-owned farms in Antioquia, Colombia, and it’s processed at a mill they own in Medellín. The green coffee beans are then individually scanned for imperfections, and hundreds of cups are sampled by their Q grader and quality expert before being approved. The green beans are then shipped to the roastery in Miami, where they’re roasted, brewed, and served. It’s one of the few completely vertically integrated coffee operations in the country, and the end result is a truly spectacular cup. 


Source: Courtesy of Britt M. via Yelp

Foster Coffee
> City and state: Owosso, Michigan

Long-time friends Jonathan Moore and Nicholas Pidek chose an appropriate name for the coffee shop they founded in 2014: its mission is to foster its community by partnering with other local businesses, civic leaders, and non-profit organizations and hosting events, concerts, conversations, reading and discussion groups. It’s expanded from Owosso to Flint and East Lansing, bringing a positive impact wherever it goes. They’re roasting their own coffee in-house, and selling a wide variety of blends and single-origins for every taste.

Four Barrel Coffee
> City and state: San Francisco, California

Housed in a sleek and rustic space with exposed beams in San Francisco, Four Barrel Coffee has forged relationships with farmers and mill workers in Latin America, Indonesia, and East Africa, sources of their green coffee beans. They roast them in-house on a vintage German-made coffee roaster, and serve a variety of coffees by the cup and in specialty drinks. Offerings include Guatemalan Buena Vista, Ethiopian Worka Wuri, and Kenyan Gura espresso.

Source: Courtesy of Hoboken Coffee Roasters via Facebook

Hoboken Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Guthrie, Oklahoma

A labor of love for founders Trey and Mallory Woods, Hoboken Coffee Roasters opened its doors inside what was previously an abandoned old garage in 2012. The Woods spent years converting it into one of the most welcoming spaces in the historic town of Guthrie, and the daily crowds imply that they must be doing something right. They’re roasting single-origin coffees from Colombia, Ethiopia, and Sumatra, and also crafting several blends.


Source: Courtesy of Donny P. via Yelp

Oregon: Prince Coffee
> Location: Portland

Prince Coffee was founded in 2016 in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland, but it proved to be so popular that they ended up moving into larger digs in Beaumont soon after. It’s a sunny quintessential neighborhood coffee shop, serving a rotating selection of coffees from Heart Coffee Roasters and Proud Mary, both small-batch roasters based in Portland. Along with classic coffee and espresso drinks, they’re also making traditional stroopwafels by hand and serving a lineup of breakfast sandwiches, and there’s a thoughtfully curated retail selection.

Source: Courtesy of Eileen C. via Yelp

Lamplighter Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Richmond, Virginia

Lamplighter Coffee Roasters is a cozy coffee bar that’s roasting up a variety of blends and single-origins available as drip coffee or turned into a variety of specialty drinks including cortados, 24-hour cold brew, and even “Turbo Coke” – Coca-Cola with a double shot of espresso added. There are also some seasonal specials and breakfast items, as well as beans by the pound.


Source: Courtesy of Lorca

> City and state: Stamford, Connecticut

Leyla Dam Jenkins grew up in Spain, where she developed a love for churros and cortados (the Spanish coffee-and-milk blend), and after finding herself unemployed in Brooklyn, in 2010 she traveled back to Seville to learn the art of churro-making. The following year she moved to Darien, Conn., to learn the craft of coffee, and in 2012 she opened Lorca in Stamford. It’s a Spanish-inspired café serving classic coffee drinks from Vancouver, British Columbia-based 49th Parallel along with specialty drinks including the popular London Fog Tea Latte, made with housemade sweet Earl Grey tea concentrate, lavender, and milk, and the Lorchata, cold brew concentrate mixed with horchata. There’s also a huge variety of housemade baked goods and other snacks, including Spanish treats like alfajores, empanadas, and, of course, freshly-fried churros.

Source: Courtesy of Vladi Z. via Yelp

Monarch Coffee
> City and state: Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City’s bright and inviting Monarch Coffee was opened by husband and wife Tyler and Jaime Rovenstine in 2017 inside the historic Ambassador Building. Tyler has more than 10 years of coffee experience, is Q-grader-certified (kind of like being a sommelier for coffee), and is a national barista competition finalist; Jamie oversees the creative direction. They’re roasting their own coffee and brewing a simple menu of coffee and espresso drinks, all made to order, along with cocktail-inspired seasonal specials like The Alexandria, made with coffee, cranberry, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and aromatic bitters and served in a coupe.

Source: Courtesy of Morning Bell Coffee Roasters

Morning Bell Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Ames, Iowa

Morning Bell Coffee Roasters buys only Fair Trade and Organic-certified green coffee beans, as well as some Smithsonian Bird Friendly certified coffees from Selva Negra in Nicaragua – and roasting them all in-house. The whole operation is computer-free, for a truly “made by humans” coffee experience, and social and environmental sustainability is central to what they do. Founder Nadav Mer recently sold the business, which is transitioning into Iowa’s first workers’ cooperative.


Source: Courtesy of Onyx Tonics Specialty Coffee via Facebook

Onyx Tonics
> City and state: Burlington, Vermont

Onyx Tonics operates under the philosophy that coffee is a living, breathing thing, and that the “terroir” of coffee, much like that of wine, affects its flavor but is usually blended and roasted away. At Onyx, their intention is to tease out the unique flavors of high quality coffees from around the world, and they offer a weekly rotating menu of at least six single-origin examples from high-end roasters, many of them local including, Carrier, Vivid, and Brio, all Vermont-based. Run by husband and wife Jason Gonzalez and Tiffany Farrant-Gonzalez, the modern and charming coffee bar provides the perfect opportunity to discover just how varied coffee can be.

Source: Courtesy of Panacea Coffee Co. via Facebook

Panacea Coffee Co.
> City and state: Waynesville, North Carolina

With exposed brick walls, plenty of seating, and a back deck overlooking a scenic creek, Panacea Coffee Co. is a great place to while away an afternoon over conversation or with a good book. Opened in a historic warehouse building in 2001, it’s a full-service espresso bar and roastery roasting specialty-grade beans in-house and serving a variety of coffee drinks. They also sell many single-origin whole-bean coffee, and there’s a full menu of sandwiches and salads.


Source: Courtesy of Dolores D. via Yelp

Peixoto Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Chandler, Arizona

“Beyond fair trade and direct trade… we are family trade,” proudly proclaims Peixoto Coffee Roasters. And indeed, the Peixoto family has been growing and harvesting coffee for at least 100 years on the family farm in Brazil, and today the farm is run by third-generation grower José Augusto Peixoto. They roast a variety of coffees from their own farm as well as from partners in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Colombia, and at the shop they sell them by the bag and serve them in expertly-made espresso drinks, pour-over and drip coffee, and seasonal specials. Be sure to enjoy yours with a fresh locally-made cinnamon roll. 

Source: Courtesy of Qahwah House via Facebook

Qahwah House
> City and state: Dearborn, Michigan

“Qahwah” is the Arabic word for coffee – which reportedly originated in Yemen in the 14th century. The founder, Ibrahim Alhasbani, also hails from Yemen, and that’s where he’s sourcing all his coffee from; in fact, his family owns the coffee farm. His shop is spacious and decorated with Yemeni relics, and the coffee is available in custom blends as well as medium, dark, and espresso roast. If you stop in, be sure to try the sabaya, a flaky, layered traditional Yemeni pastry.

Source: Courtesy of Reverie Coffee Roasters

Reverie Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Wichita, Kansas

Reverie roasts a variety of small-batch coffees, led by expert coffee roaster Oscar Pineda. Coffee is sourced from around the world and, after roasting, brewed with care, and served in this charming coffee bar or sold wholesale to local businesses and restaurants. Popular blends include Bone Shaker (orange zest, chocolate, and caramel notes), Moonless Midnight (dark chocolate, dates, and pecan notes), and 24K Goat (with notes of chocolate, baking spices, and nuts), and lots of single-origin options are available, too.


Source: Courtesy of Roast'd Coffee (Fort Lee, NJ) via Facebook

> City and state: Hasbrouck Heights, Fort Lee, and Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

Roast’d sources the finest beans from around the world, roasting them on-site in small batches, and serving them in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The well-trained baristas measure out exactly the right amount of beans for each serving, grind them fresh, and brew each cup to order. It takes a little extra time, but the end result is a cup of coffee that’s essentially perfect. Eight to ten single-origin coffees are on offer at any time, with something for everyone; the baristas will be happy to talk you through their selection, like sommeliers.

Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Brewster, Massachusetts

Snowy Owl has become an irreplaceable central gathering space for the Lower Cape community. This rustic, low-slung small-town café and roastery has a warm, inviting glow and truly spectacular coffee, and shares a space with a beloved herb shop. The coffees they’re roasting are smooth and expertly brewed using several methods including Aeropress, Chemex, pour-over, traditional brew, and cold-brew. They’re also selling pastries, salads, and light snacks along with local art and gifts. 


Source: Courtesy of Darin W. via Yelp

Spitfire Coffee
> City and state: New Orleans, Louisiana

When tiny Spitfire Coffee opened in 2013, it was one of the first specialty coffee shops in New Orleans, and it remains the best. They’re sourcing a constantly rotating selection of the best-quality single-origin beans they can find, and four to five of them at a time are brewed via pour-over. The beans are also turned into classic espresso-based drinks as well as specialty offerings including a Brown Butter Mocha and Las Tres Flores with lavender milk, orange blossom syrup, and rose petals.

Source: Courtesy of Story Coffee via Facebook

Story Coffee
> City and state: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Story Coffee Co. is located inside a ridiculously charming “tiny house,” and unlike most coffee shops, offers no wifi or places to plug in – so customers are encouraged to engage in conversation instead of burying their faces in a screen. Founded by Don and Carissa Niemyer in 2015 after they visited more than 200 coffee shops in 45 states, Story Coffee roasts all its own coffee and turns them into delicious blends that the locals can’t get enough of. Even better, 5% of all revenues go toward feeding the local homeless population.

Source: Courtesy of Christopher G. via Yelp

Vesta Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Las Vegas and Summerlin/Lakes, Nevada

Vesta Coffee Roasters has a location in Las Vegas’ up-and-coming Downtown Arts District as well as one in Summerlin/Lakes, and both are vibrant and inviting. They source specialty coffees from around the world, working with trusted exporters, importers, and sometimes the farmers directly, and roast them fresh three times per week. All the classic coffee and espresso drinks are well-made, and specialty drinks include hazelnut-maple lattes, golden milk, and seasonal creations like the Aztec mocha with Dutch cacao, cinnamon, and guajillo chiles. There’s also a pleasing menu of pastries, tartines, and lunch fare.


Source: Courtesy of Youngblood Coffee Roasters via Facebook

Youngblood Coffee Roasters
> City and state: Fargo, North Dakota

Youngblood was founded as a grassroots operation in 2016, serving house-roasted coffee in a cool, modern, white-walled space. They offer ethically-sourced, fully-washed Arabica beans, which are roasted in a top-of-the-line Probat roaster to accentuate each coffee’s unique character and flavor. Coffees on offer include Cajamarca from Peru, Yirgacheffe Adado from Ethiopia, and San Agustín from Colombia. 

Take This Retirement Quiz To Get Matched With A Financial Advisor (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the
advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.