When you think of a great coffee shop, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a small counter where you can sit and enjoy a perfectly pulled espresso. Or a cozy couch where you can lose yourself in conversation over a latte made with coffee roasted in-house. Or maybe it’s a table where you can get some work done while sipping a cup of tea and enjoying a pastry. There’s a perfect coffee shop for everyone out there, and these are the best independent coffee shops in the East.
What makes a coffee shop great, exactly? 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. Some offer a top-notch selection of food, like fresh-baked pastries and carefully crafted sandwiches, that are worth the trip in their own right.
But a great coffee shop goes beyond what’s on the menu. The best ones are community gathering places, comfortable and inviting places to meet with friends or a date, get some work done, or just sit with your thoughts and look out the window. If you want to grab a cup to-go on your way to work, they’ll serve it to you with a smile, and if you want to learn about the subtle flavor and aroma differences between the single-origin roasts on offer the baristas will happily oblige. (You’ll find some of the finest of these establishments in the best coffee cities in America.)
To determine the best independent coffee shops in the 11 Eastern states (as defined by Census region), 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. To keep the playing field level, only coffee shops with three locations or fewer were considered. (If big chains are your thing, though, you’ll want to know the Starbucks capitals of America.)
All of these coffee shops are worth seeking out, and they all have something to offer beyond just a caffeine buzz.