The Ten Best Cities for Coffee in the United States of America

Living on the West Coast of North America in an area dominated by coffee culture, I cannot imagine not having the best of cafe culture within an easy walking distance. And in my 25 years of writing about the bean scene in Canada, I have traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast, with many stops along the way, looking for the best of the best in the brewed cup of joe.

Two decades ago there would have been larges swaths of land between hot spots and thankfully that has changed. Most towns, large or small, in Canada have grown with the times and it’s now downright challenging to find a whistle stop completely free of a hot cup of java or a great latte or cappuccino. And while this is a rule in Canada where there are a finite number of pathways East to West, it is not that simple a quantification in the U.S. of A. Here are some stats about the coffee scene in the U.S.A. – by the numbers!

Top 10 cities based on coffee businesses per resident

It’s no surprise that the Pacific Northwest is well represented on our list of the best cities in America for coffee lovers. These 10 highly caffeinated locales have the most coffee shops per resident, so that quick fix is never too difficult to find.

Number 10. Ann Arbor, Michigan – One cafe for every 2825 people.

With a total enrollment of more than 44,000 students, plus one professor for every 12 students, the University of Michigan is a likely inspiration for the many coffee shops scattered across Ann Arbor. Coeds have plenty of places to get that all-important caffeine infusion to help them cram for exams.

Coffee drinkers living in Ann Arbor can expect to pay an average of $1,331 for a one-bedroom apartment. Ouch!

Number 9. Everett, Washington – One cafe for every 2752 people.

Located 25 miles north of Seattle (or as Coffeeville as it’s also known!) on the Puget Sound, Everett is the first of four Pacific Northwest cities on our top 10. The military town is home to Naval Station Everett, and a slew of local roasters keep around 6,000 sailors and civil servants assigned to the base alert at all hours.

Living in Everett is considerably more affordable compared to Seattle just a few miles to the south. The average one-bedroom rent here is $1,307.

Number 8. Pittsburgh, PA – One cafe for every 2607 people.

Coffee may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Steel City, but the caffeine scene is growing fast in this proud Pennsylvania town. From cappuccinos at the buzzing Espresso A Mano to curry ginger lattes at eclectic Biddle’s Escape, Yinzers have a wide variety of coffee shops from which to get their daily jolt.

In addition to all of the coffee options, Pittsburgh residents have it pretty sweet (comparably) on their rent as well. A one-bedroom place here averages about $1,282 a month – which is cheaper than most cities on our top 10 list.

Number 7. Minneapolis, MN – One cafe for every 2427 people.

With an average snowfall clocking in around 60 to 70 inches annually, the country’s coldest urban center tends to Jones for java. Locals escape sub-zero temperatures and blizzards (in April!) with cozy caffeinated beverages in warm independent coffee shops and the beloved local chain, Caribou Coffee – founded in nearby Edina.

Minneapolis renters may be able to splurge a little more on their espresso machines – the average monthly price for a one-bedroom here is $1,468.

Number 6. Salt Lake City, UT – One cafe for every 2387 people.

Even with the significant LDS population abstaining from coffee and tea, Salt Lake City has some serious coffee cred. From single-origin espresso to green bean brew, pioneers like the Salt Lake Roasting Company and Millcreek Coffee have been paving the way for creative coffee purveyors for decades.

Salt Lake City is also one of the more affordable places to live compared to the rest of our top 10 list. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,260 a month.

Number 5. Portland, OR – One cafe for every 2322 people.

Home of the beloved Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Portland’s coffee culture is strong – arguably the strongest in the country. The city trumped coffee rival Seattle multiple years to take Travel + Leisure’s title of America’s Best Coffee City. Alas, judging by the number of coffee outposts per capita, Seattle edges out Portland by a hair on our poll.

Coffee lovers looking to settle down in Portland can expect to pay about $1,550 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Number 4. Seattle, WA – One cafe for every 2308 people.

Starbucks was born here in Pike Place Market back in 1971, opening the door for a flood of Seattle roasters to follow, from Tully’s Coffee to Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Company and many, many more. Whether they’re searching for Bulletproof Coffee or the perfect pourover, Seattleites have a diverse array of excellent coffee shops to choose from.

Seattle also comes in as one of the more pricey cities on our list for rent. Your average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle will cost $2,139 a month.

Number 3. San Francisco, CA – One cafe for every 2297 people.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the “third wave of coffee”? Powered by high-quality artisanal coffee, the latest trend started with roasters like San Francisco-born Blue Bottle, which only sells beans that have been roasted within the last 48 hours. Locals also swear by third-wave pioneers like Ritual Roasters, Sightglass Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee.

In what’s probably no surprise, San Francisco is the most expensive place to live compared to the rest of our top 10. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment here will set you back $3,704 a month.

Number 2. Vancouver, WA – One cafe for every 2224 people.

Located just across the Columbia River from Oregon, Portland’s largest suburb is equally devoted to coffee culture. In fact, Vancouver edges out its sister city on our top 10 thanks to a slew of places to sip, from Relevant Coffee to Compass Coffee.

Vancouver is also the most affordable city on our top 10 list. One-bedroom apartments average $1,167 a month.

Number 1. Berkeley, CA – One cafe for every 2037 people.

Many brew aficionados trace coffee’s third-wave back to Peet’s Coffee, which started selling hand-roasted small batch beans in 1966 near the University of California. Today, Berkeley takes the title of the best city in the U.S. for coffee lovers, with more coffee shops per capita than any other city in the country.

Berkeley also comes in toward the top for rental prices compared to the rest of the cities on our list. The average one-bedroom apartment in Berkeley runs $3,106 a month.

Inspiration for this article