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The 5 Best US Cities for Coffee Lovers

United States
by Nickolaus Hines Sep 28, 2020

The United States runs on coffee. By some estimates, more than 60 percent of adults in the US regularly drink the beverage. Some cities, however, are far more hyped up on coffee than others.

WalletHub, a credit score improvement company, analyzed coffee consumption and prevalence for the 100 most populated US cities. It took into account the average spending on coffee per household, the number of coffee shops per capita, the Google search traffic for “coffee” in the city, and nine other key indicators — including some coffee-adjacent factors like the number of doughnut shops per capita. The data came from sources like the US Census Bureau, Yelp, Google Trends, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A few of the metrics driving the ranking have been deeply impacted by pandemic-related shutdowns. Coffee shops were forced to pivot from the role of work-hours meeting spot to takeout only in order to survive. On the production side, the pandemic drove questions about shortages in some of the largest coffee growing regions in the world. Yet people kept drinking coffee, even though they were staying home. This led to a surge in at-home coffee trends with international inspiration, like dalgona coffee and Vietnamese egg coffee.

WalletHub added in factors of at-home coffee making and drinking. This includes the lowest average price for a pack of coffee, for example, which is led by cities like Miami, Houston, and Raleigh, NC (the highest prices, on the other hand, are centered around San Francisco and other parts of Northern California, along with Honolulu). The report also includes data on the highest percent of households that own coffee makers, led by Gilbert, AZ.

The ranking included some predictable results, though some of the cities typically associated with coffee obsessed residents are lower down than one might expect. New York City, for instance, only comes in at number 27, and Chicago doesn’t make an appearance until number 25. Both cities have plenty of coffee, but on a per capita basis neither hold up (New York and Chicago are tied for first when it comes to the number of doughnut shops per capita, though).

These are the top five cities in the US for coffee, according to the metrics WalletHub used (for the full list and methodology, check out the full report).

5. Tampa, Florida

Tampa has a strong coffee culture that can fuel any business trip to the city thanks to standbys like Blind Tiger Cafe, Buddy Brew, and Foundation Coffee. According to WalletHub, Tampa has the fourth most coffee shops and cafes per capita. The surrounding area isn’t all that bad either — WalletHub also found that some of the most affordable cappuccinos are just across the bay in St. Petersburg. While Tampa’s position on the list might make some raise their eyebrows, coffee-centric publications like Sprudge have been touting the rise of Tampa coffee for years.

4. Miami, Florida

Florida’s coffee prominence isn’t restricted to the northern part of the state. Miami, and the surrounding towns, is the best Florida location for coffee lovers on WalletHub’s ranking. It has the fifth highest number of adult coffee drinkers per capita, which is driven by a strong coffee shop presence (however, Miami falls in at number 96 when it comes to the percentage of households with coffee makers, which might explain the large number of cafes). It’s also tied at number one for the cheapest pack of coffee with Hialeah, a city that borders Miami.

3. Portland, Oregon

The first inklings of a craft coffee culture could be found in Portland, Oregon, in the 1990s. There are historic roasters and shops like Boyd’s Coffee Co., which opened in 1900, and Kobos Coffee, which opened in 1972. For a true trip down Portland’s coffee memory lane, Oregon Live collected historic photos of the city’s coffee peddlers. In the present day, WalletHub puts Portland at number one when it comes to the number of coffee and tea manufacturers in the country.

2. San Francisco, California

WalletHub found that San Francisco is at number two right after Portland for the number of coffee and tea manufacturers, and nearby Oakland isn’t too far behind San Francisco. Though it should also be noted that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities for a pack of coffee. For a taste of what the city has to offer, Caffe Trieste has been caffeinating the city for a half-century, while Saint Frank puts the focus on independent roasters and specialty beans.

1. Seattle, Washington

It only makes sense that the original home of Starbucks tops the list. Just as the ubiquitous coffee chain changed the way the US thinks about coffee, it has helped shape Seattle’s coffee scene since it first opened in 1971. WalletHub found that Seattle has the third most coffee and tea producers in the country, and another study done by ApartmentGuide in 2019 put Seattle at number four when it comes to the highest overall number of coffee shops in the country. The latter study found 278 coffee shops, or one for every 2,308 people.

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