Special Report

Best Independent Coffee Shops in America

There’s no shortage of great coffee shops in America. There are probably at least a couple in your neighborhood that you consider indispensable when it comes time for your caffeine fix. But some coffee shops really go above and beyond, and are the absolute best in America. 

It should be noted that the term “coffee shop” has two definitions: The first is the type of casual restaurant or diner that the gang from “Seinfeld” hung out at. The second is a place that sells coffee and tea drinks along with (usually) a small assortment of pastries and other foods that pair well with them, like Starbucks. But we’re not talking about Starbucks here – we’re talking about independent operations with their own personality and approach to coffee. (If you’re a Starbucks fan, though, these are the Starbucks capitals of America.) 

What makes an independent coffee shop one of the nation’s best? The quality of the coffee, obviously, needs to be spectacular; it needs to be fresh and either roasted in-house or sourced from one or more well-regarded roasteries. A nice selection of food always helps, though it’s not essential. And it will usually be a comfortable community gathering place where everybody feels welcome to linger over their cold brew for a while.  

To determine the best independent coffee shops in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed articles and rankings on a wide range of websites, including Food & Wine, The Culture Trip, Time Out, Eater, Cheapism, and Yelp, as well as numerous state and local coffee shop listings. We used editorial discretion to make our final decision, but tried to include a wide range of places, from cafés serving food as well as good coffee to coffee-focused roasteries, and from small single-unit establishments to shops with a handful of local outposts. 

Click here to see the best independent coffee shops in America

Although we strove for geographical variety, some states and cities inevitably had a greater concentration of coffee shops worthy of consideration. (Here’s a ranking of the best and worst American cities for coffee lovers.)

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