Special Report

The Best Independent Coffee Shops in America

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.

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