A great coffee shop can be defined in different ways – a counter where you can sit or stand and enjoy a rich espresso with a thick crema; a cozy café where you can meet with friends (“Friends”-style); a welcoming workspace. Whatever a coffee shop is to you (and maybe it’s all of the above), there are some perfect ones out there.
Many of the best source coffee beans from the world’s best producers, maintain close relationships with growers, and roast their own beans in-house. Others curate their offerings, drawing from 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. (You’ll find a good representation of top-line coffee shops in the best coffee cities in America.)
Big chains like the ubiquitous Starbucks and such smaller operations as Peet’s Coffee and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf do a good job, but the widest range of coffees and of brewing techniques, using some of the highest quality beans, can be found at America’s ever-increasing population of independent coffee shops. (If big chains are your thing, though, you’ll want to know the Starbucks capitals of America.)
To determine the best independent coffee shops in the 12 Midwestern 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 four locations or fewer were considered.
All of these coffee shops are worth seeking out, and they all have something to offer beyond just a caffeine buzz.
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