For many, regular coffee intake is necessary fuel. But divergence from your daily Keurig can be a beautiful thing.
These ten cities have taken coffee to the next level. Take a break from your daily grind and expand your palate at these extraordinary coffee destinations.
Water Avenue Coffee
Pay a visit to Water Avenue, where you’ll find some of the Bridge City’s best beans tucked away in the Southeast Industrial District. The friendly space offers mellow roasts straight from the back of the shop, with egg sandwiches and avocado toast that hold their own in a city known for its brunch.
Prince serves some of the city’s best espresso via Portland roasters like Heart and Roseline. Local Instagram photographers flock to the sleek white walls and tropical houseplants, and paired with Prince baristas’ expert pours, it’s a pretty picture. Be sure to try the seasonal latte, often featuring anise or other craft flavors inspired by the owner’s Dutch heritage.
Never Coffee Lab
In a sea of minimalist establishments, Never’s pop of color is almost as refreshing as their creative offerings. A rainbow neon sign marks the outside of the tiny shop, a bright Matisse-inspired mural the inside. Adventurous guests might try one of their bold custom lattes like the “Oregon,” flavored with cascade hops, dulce de leche, and sea salt.
District Coffee House
District’s sunny atmosphere underscores the shop’s commitment to service, as a non-profit business supporting orphans. They roast their own Indonesian, African, and Latin American coffee twice a week in-house. Students and visitors frequent District for a quality-centered caffeine fix—the baristas serve classic espresso drinks as well as a popular Nutella latte.
Besides delicious vegan desserts, Guru serves some of Boise’s best brews via Idaho’s Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters. The shop pulls an excellent espresso shot, and satisfies sugar lovers with a delightful mocha. Come for the caffeine, stay for the cinnamon sugar twist.
Baristas everywhere revere La Marzocco for their industry-leading espresso machines, and at their Seattle headquarters, you can get a close-up look. A different expert curates the café’s menu and operations each month, so the taste of the shop is constantly evolving. Stop by La Marzocco for a peek behind the scenes of coffee prestige.
Skip the line at the original Starbucks and head to Seattle’s hip Capitol Hill neighborhood for a beverage at Starbucks Reserve. The Reserve’s twisting copper machinery and buzzing real-time production conjures comparison to a grown-up version of Willy Wonka’s factory. The drink menu features innovative offerings like an iced sparkling espresso with mint.
Nestled in Boston’s Leather District, Gracenote attracts visitors and keeps daily commuters caffeinated. The shop features its own single origin espresso called Alpha, as well as a rotating second option. Boston Magazine nominated Gracenote their 2017 Best Coffee Shop, commending the cortado and flat white—either a perfect match for your daily craving.
George Howell Coffee
Howell’s establishment occupies a petite, refined space at the Boston Public Market. The shop’s namesake, an industry pioneer, has established this spot to educate, inspire, and, of course, serve cutting-edge coffee. Purists will find George Howell’s alternatives to cold brew (which the founder staunchly opposes) intriguing, especially the Frappuccino-inventor’s stripped down take on the cold concoction, which he calls “The Classic.”
San Diego, California
Bird Rock Roasters
Bird Rock Roasters, winner of Roast Magazine’s 2012 Micro-Roaster of the Year, fosters a family atmosphere sometimes rare in coffee culture. The bright teal motif and proximity to the beach speak to the operation’s warmth, and Bird Rock’s commitment to ethical roasting comes full circle in the high quality of their brews. Stop by for a Chemex and a friendly hello.
Swell Coffee Company
You’ll find delicious and sustainable offerings at Swell, where the menu merges craft and innovation. San Diego’s surf vibe is alive and well here in whimsical references like the shop’s blend, “Beach Goth.” If you’re feeling adventurous on a summer visit, order the “Hopped Toddy,” a beer-infused cold brew.
San José, Costa Rica
Britt Coffee Tour
Ever wondered where your coffee comes from? Bring your curiosity along to Britt, eight miles north of San José and prepare to be educated. Their Coffee Lovers Tour will spark conversation, satisfy questions, and expand your palate with a cupping. Plus, you’re supporting certified sustainable agriculture.
El Toledo Coffee Tour
El Toledo, about 27 miles west of San José, offers a permaculture perspective on coffee farming, using minimal amounts of water and energy. Their care for Costa Rica’s natural resources makes this coffee tour truly special. Book in advance to reserve your spot and try some delicious, environmentally-friendly coffee. Cafeoteca
In an area that exports some of the best beans in the world, Cafeoteca is reclaiming the end product for Costa Ricans to enjoy domestically. This shop serves third-wave coffee in a cheerful, eclectic setting, charging a bit more than other shops in order to fairly pay their sources—farmers in areas like Guanacaste and Tarrazú. The result is fresh, tasty, and true to “Pura Vida.”
Tinta y Café
Locals know to pick up their café con leche at Tinta y Café, where an eclectic atmosphere meets authentic Cuban coffee. Step up to the ventanilla (window) for the classic Miami experience of strong coffee on-the-go, or linger a while in one of the shop’s cozy nooks with a decadent sandwich to accompany your con evaporado (coffee with evaporated milk). Tinta y Café serves Cuban coffee that rivals any in the city, often with disproportionately short lines.
Another Cuban sandwich shop vies for caffeine lovers’ attention in Miami: Enriqueta’s. This family-run business thrives on local loyalty and welcomes visitors with its classic offerings of cafécito and colada (several espresso shots in a big cup). Pro tip: try the off-menu Frank Martinez, an evaporated milk cortadito with cinnamon and sugar.
Tandem’s founders boast culinary backgrounds from Boston to San Francisco, but Portland reaps the benefits of their expertise. While the roastery is worth a visit, the Bakery on Congress Street is the outfit’s star. Light pours into the repurposed retro gas station through numerous windows, illuminating freshly baked pastries and expert pour overs.
Portland’s Speckled Ax has gained notoriety for their wood-fired coffee roasting, a method employed by only a handful of roasters nationwide. The owner describes his process as “traditional, intuitive, and completely manual.” Visit this snug shop to sample their in-house single origins and blends, or opt for the “fast coffee” on drip if you’re on the go.
Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters
Oak Cliff’s delicate blends fill cups across Texas and beyond because they’re doing something right. The roastery sits in the back of their reclaimed wood-lined shop, Davis Street Espresso, in the hip Oak Cliff neighborhood. Regulars recommend the Van Buren, a cortado in a mini mason jar paired with sparkling water and biscotti.
At the heart of Dallas’ bustling Lower Greenville neighborhood, you’ll find Mudsmith, a maps-plastered, taxidermy-adorned social hub. Grab an iced toddy (the shop’s 16-hour cold brew), a house-made scone, and a spot on the patio, and you’re set for a morning of reading or chatting.
A few blocks around the corner, Houndstooth serves some of Dallas’ finest craft coffee. The baristas pride themselves on consistency in pouring espresso-forward favorites like the Japanese-style iced coffee, a made-to-order alternative to cold brew.
The modern world of coffee has so much to offer, and a visit to any of these cities is sure to yield caffeinated treasure. We’ve come a long way from Folgers—why not celebrate somewhere beautiful with a fresh cup of specialty coffee?
Featured photo courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo
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