Americans love coffee — in fact, they love it so much that they drink over 650 million cups of it every single day. It’s our lifeblood: Adults in the U.S. reported drinking more coffee than bottled water in 2021.
The pandemic kept a lot of us out of our favorite coffee shops, but coffee culture is rebounding along with the real estate market. Out-of-home coffee consumption has risen 16% since January 2021, bringing it close to pre-pandemic levels. So it’s as good a time as ever to look at the best coffee cities in America.
A new study by Clever Real Estate looked at major U.S. cities and used publicly available data from sources like the U.S. Census, Google Trends, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the National Coffee Association to analyze their level of coffee-friendliness. The study weighs factors like number of coffee shops per capita and per square mile, the average price of a cappuccino, and the percentage of their income locals are willing to spend on a daily cup of coffee to rank U.S. coffee cities from best to worst.
The study even looks at Google searches for coffee-related terms. It turns out the number of “where is the nearest coffee shop” searches tells you as much about local coffee enthusiasm as the number of “how to find a real estate agent,” “which real estate company has the lowest commission,” or “what is a 3% real estate commission” searches tells you about how hot the local real estate market is.
Below, we’ll touch on each of the 15 best coffee cities in America, what makes them so good, and some of the local coffee shops and roasteries from Food and Wine magazine’s prestigious “Best Coffee Shops in America” list. But first, some big picture facts.
1. The best coffee cities are concentrated on the edges of the U.S.
Six of the top 15 coffee cities are on the West Coast, while nine are in the Northeast or the North.
2. The 15 best coffee cities have more cafes than the average U.S. city
The average American city has 13 coffee shops, while the 15 cities on the “Best Coffee” list have an average of 18.
3. America has “coffee deserts”
In Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Louisville, Ky., Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and Riverside, Calif., coffee shops are separated by 40 square miles or more.
4. Memphis might be the least coffee-friendly city in America
Tennessee's second-largest city has only six coffee shops per 100,000 people, a national low.
5. The average cappuccino in the U.S. costs $4.36
That adds up to an annual total of $1,134 if you drink one per weekday, representing nearly 2% of the average annual income of $62,215.
6. In the top 15 coffee cities, a daily cappuccino is slightly cheaper than average
A daily cup will only set you back 1.6% of your annual income in the top coffee cities.
7. The best coffee city in America is Milwaukee
Milwaukee combines great coffee affordability with a vibrant coffee culture. A cappuccino here costs only $3.56 on average — 22% less than the national average.
8. You can have a cappuccino every weekday of the year in Milwaukee for under $1,000
One of only five cities where the annual cost of one cappuccino each weekday comes in at less than $1,000, Milwaukee coffee drinkers spend only $926.
9. One of the country’s best coffee shops is just down the road
Ruby Coffee Roasters in Stevens Point, Wis., was named by Food and Wine as one of the best roasters in the country, proving that Wisconsin coffee culture is on the rise.
10. The second-best coffee city in America is Portland, Ore.
Portland boasts the most coffee shops per capita (27 per 100,000 people) — nearly twice the national average — as well as the most enthusiastic coffee drinkers, as evidenced by their U.S.-leading number of coffee-related Google searches.
11. For a booming city, Portland’s coffee is pretty affordable
Portland’s real estate market and general cost of living has been rising precipitously for the past decade, so it’s remarkable that the average price of a cappuccino here ($4.30) is slightly lower than the national average.
12. Portland had an impressive three entries on Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
13. The third-best coffee city in America is San Francisco
Coffee is exceedingly affordable to the average San Franciscan, who only shells out 1% of their annual income on a daily cappuccino. (Of course, this is also a function of San Francisco’s high average income.)
14. San Francisco has a ton of coffee options
San Francisco has 23 coffee shops per 100,000 residents, and a coffee shop every 2 square miles, making it one of the most coffee-saturated cities in America.
15. San Francisco had two entries on Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
16. The fourth-best coffee city in America is Buffalo, N.Y.
Buffalo is famously affordable, and its coffee is no exception: The average cappuccino here costs $3.67, good for second-most affordable on our list. A cup every weekday comes to only $954 a year!
17. Buffalo has a lot of coffee shops, too
This small upstate NY city has around 20 coffee shops per 100,000 people, one every 7 square miles or so.
18. New York state boasts an elite coffee culture
While Food and Wine didn’t single out any Buffalo establishments, several shops in New York City received gold stars, including historic Caffe Reggio, Box Kite Coffee in Manhattan, and Brooklyn's Sey Coffee in Bushwick, which captured the top spot on the list. Clearly, some of this excellence is filtering upstate!
19. The fifth-best coffee city in America is Providence, R.I.
In Providence, the average cappuccino ($4.12) is slightly less expensive than the national average of $4.36, which means a daily habit will only set you back $1,071 a year.
20. Providence has a ton of coffee shops and roasteries
Providence boasts 23 coffee shops per 100,000 people, or about one shop every 4 square miles.
21. Providence has its own signature local coffee drink
Coffee milk is the official Rhode Island state beverage, and is made by mixing coffee syrup (created by filtering hot water and sugar through coffee grounds) with milk. It’s sort of a blend of Turkish coffee and chocolate milk, and is extremely popular in Rhode Island, though rarely found outside the state.
22. The sixth-best coffee city in America is Boston
It makes sense that coffee would be so popular in the city where they threw tea in the harbor. (Insert your own Dunkin’ Donuts reference here.)
23. Coffee is fairly affordable in Boston — and there’s a lot of it
A daily cappuccino only sets Bostonians back 1.4% of their annual income, which ranks third-best in the U.S., and has 22 coffee shops per 100,000 residents.
24. Three Boston-area coffee shops made Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
25. The seventh-best coffee city in America is Cincinnati
At $3.72 a cup, Cincinnati offers one of the most affordable cappuccinos in America, and is one of the few cities where your daily caffeine habit will cost you less than $1,000 a year.
26. While there isn’t that much coffee in Cincinnati, what’s there is great
Cincinnati has only 11 cafes per 100,000 people, which is a lot less than most of the cities on this list. Still, it offers high-quality coffee that’s super affordable, which earns the city its spot on this list.
27. One local Cincinnati coffee shop made Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
Mom ‘n ‘Em, located on the ground floor of a historic Cincinnati brownstone, was recognized as one of the country’s best cafes. (And in case you get over-caffeinated, they also serve wine!)
28. The eighth-best coffee city in America is Pittsburgh
The Steel City boasts a super affordable cappuccino, at $3.96 on average, for an annual cost of only $1,030.
29. People in Pittsburgh conduct a lot of Google searches about coffee
Pittsburgh has around 16 coffee shops per 100,000 residents, and the locals are always hunting them down, as they conduct more coffee-related searches than half the cities on this top 15 list.
30. Two Pittsburgh coffee shops made Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
Roastery-slash-cafe Commonplace Coffee and Espresso a Mano, in the hip Lawrenceville neighborhood, were both recognized by F&W among America’s finest coffee establishments.
31. The ninth-best coffee city in America is Seattle
This trailblazer in the coffee world has the second-most coffee shops per capita: 27 per 100,000 residents. So why isn’t it ranked higher?
32. Seattle coffee isn’t all that affordable
The average cappuccino in Seattle is going to set you back $5.06, which is quite a bit more than the national average. Still, a daily coffee habit will only cost the average Seattle resident 1.6% of their annual income thanks to salaries on the higher end.
33. Three Seattle coffee establishments made Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
34. The 10th-best coffee city in America is Hartford, Conn.
This smallish Connecticut city is a coffee powerhouse, with 21 shops per 100,000 people.
35. Hartford residents are constantly on the hunt for coffee
Residents of Hartford conduct more coffee-related Google searches than 78% of the top 50 coffee cities. These people need their coffee!
36. Hartford coffee isn’t cheap, though
The average cappuccino here costs $4.50, slightly above the national average.
37. One Hartford coffee establishment was recognized by Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
New shop Story & Soil was selected as one of the country’s finest cafes.
38. The 11th-best coffee city in America is Riverside, Calif.
Riverside boasts the fourth-cheapest cappuccino on this list at only $3.79 a cup. That comes to only $985 a year for a daily drinker.
39. There aren’t many coffee shops in Riverside
Strangely, this college town only has 9 shops per 100,000 people. But the shops that are there are very high quality!
40. One Riverside coffee establishment was recognized by Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
F&W singled out Riverside’s Arcade Coffee, located in a former video store, as the sixth-best coffee shop in America.
41. The 12th-best coffee city in America is San Diego
San Diego is tied with Portland for the second-most coffee-related Google searches, indicating that there’s a ton of enthusiasm for coffee in this beachside city.
42. San Diego coffee costs around the same as the national average
A cappuccino in sunny San Diego is only 10 cents more expensive than the national average, though a daily habit will cost the average San Diego resident 1.8% of their annual income.
43. One San Diego-area coffee establishment was recognized by Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
Ironsmith Coffee, a combination roaster-cafe just blocks from the beach in Encinitas, was singled out by F&W as one of the best in the country.
44. The 13th-best coffee city in America is Philadelphia
Right now, Philly only has 16 cafes per 100,000 residents, though that number is sure to rise as coffee culture takes hold in the city.
45. Philadelphia has great coffee — but it’s not particularly affordable
The average cappuccino in Philly is $4.38, which is a hair more than the national average. For a year of weekday coffee drinking, that comes to $1,139 total.
46. One Philadelphia establishment was recognized by Food and Wine’s Best Coffee list
South Philly’s laid-back Herman’s Coffee was called out by F&W as an elite coffee shop.
47. The 14th-best coffee city in America is San Jose, Calif.
This Silicon Valley city offers great coffee at a slightly higher-than-average price point, with the average cappuccino here setting you back $4.65. Still, that equates to only 1% of annual income for a daily habit, thanks to San Jose’s strong average income.
48. One cafe in the San Jose area was named to Food and Wine's Best Coffee list
Nearby Santa Cruz is home to Cat & Cloud, which F&W crowned as the third-best coffee shop in the country.
49. The 15th-best coffee city in America is Indianapolis
Indy boasts super affordable coffee. The average cappuccino here is only $3.80, with a year of weekday cappuccinos only setting a local coffee drinker back $988 a year.
50. Indianapolis has a curated guide to the best coffee shops in the city
The Indianapolis Coffee Guide highlights new shops, new drinks, as well as old standbys, so you can always find the coffee you need in Naptown.