The Starbucks Capitals of America

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The first Starbucks opened in Seattle 50 years ago. For its first five years, the company just sold beans and not coffee drinks. In the early 1980s, after one-time employee Howard Schutz took it over, it pivoted from bean provider to Italian-inspired cafe serving ever more elaborate coffee drinks (eventually including the famed Pumpkin Spice Latte, introduced in 2003). 

Starbucks didn’t venture outside its hometown until 1987, when it expanded to Chicago and Vancouver, British Columbia. Fast forward to 2021 and Starbucks is in every state and has many outlets overseas as well. (These are the best coffee cities in America.)

What states have the most Starbucks in total and the most per capita? To answer that question, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected by NiceRx, a patient assistance program and medication access company, using numbers for total fast-food restaurants taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and tracking the nation’s ten most popular chains as determined by ScrapeHero.com. (Population figures are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.) We then ranked the states by their per capita Starbucks population per 100,000 residents, lowest to highest.

It turns out that the Starbucks capital of America is, not surprisingly, the company’s home state of Washington, with 9.7 units per 100,000 people. It’s followed by Colorado with 8.8, Nevada and Oregon with 8.2 each, and California with 7.4. So it looks as if Starbucks has something of a focus on the West and Northwest. 

Interestingly Alaska, which ranks at or near the bottom of our lists of fast food capitals generally, claims the No. 7 spot with 6.6 Starbucks restaurants per 100,000 people. Alaskans may like fast food less than other Americans, but they seem to like their coffee quite a bit. (Here are 20 signs you might be drinking too much coffee.) 

Another geographic trend may be evident at the other end of our list. The No. 50 and 49 spots are claimed by Mississippi and Alabama, which have only 1.2 and 1.8 Starbucks restaurants per 100,000 people, respectively. Both are in the Deep South and both rank much higher in their number of other fast food outlets.