Special Report

The Best Independent Coffee Shops in America

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.