When you’re in the mood for an expertly-made cup of coffee, do you carefully brew it yourself? Head to your local Starbucks? Grab a cheap cup from the nearest convenience store? If you’re like many others, instead you head over to a local independent coffee shop, where the barista knows your name and regular order. And if you happen to find yourself out west, these are the best coffee shops to seek out.
A great independent coffee shop (which is synonymous with “café” for today’s purposes) is so much more than just a place to grab a quick cup of joe. The best don’t just offer great coffee and employ baristas who are passionate about coffee and willing to share their expertise with you. They’re also comfortable and inviting places to meet with friends or a date, get some work done, or just sit with your thoughts and a cup of comfort. (These are the best coffee cities in America.)
Many of the best coffee shops source their coffee beans from the world’s best producers and in many cases forge relationships with the growers themselves. They often roast their own beans in-house. And for those who don’t roast their own beans, they purchase theirs from well-regarded roasteries.
At some great coffee shops, coffee-lovers can sample a variety of fresh-brewed single-origin coffees, learning about the subtle nuances in the flavors and aromas of each one. Other places get their coffee beans from a single source and turn them into a wide array of drinks that go above and beyond what you’ll find at your local Starbucks. (If that ubiquitous chain is your thing, though, you’ll want to know the Starbucks capitals of America.)
To determine the best independent coffee shops in the 13 Western states (as defined by the Census Bureau), 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, we only considered coffee shops with three or fewer locations.