8 Specialty Coffee Hubs In The USA

Written by: Garrett Oden

8 Specialty Coffee Hubs In The USA

Trips around the United States, whether for work or play, can be quite fun. New cities to see, cuisines to explore, and history to learn.

But if you’re like me, it’s all about the coffee shops.

Specialty coffee is now the largest coffee submarket in the USA’s coffee industry. That means there are great specialty coffee shops everywhere.

However, there are a few specialty coffee hubs where much of the innovation happens. New products are developed and tested, new service styles are explored, and fresh beverage creations are launched in shops, like cold brew mocktails.

As someone who worked in a small cafe in a small city over 5 hours away from the nearest bigger city, visiting these specialty coffee hubs was not just fun, it was an adventure.

And I want you to know about these coffee adventure-filled cities too.

Here they are.         

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is the original home of Starbucks, one of the earliest forerunners of cafes as we know them. This seaside city has been at the forefront of coffee shop innovation for decades.

Now that the specialty coffee movement is in full swing, the city is filled with great shops. You can’t throw a stone half-heartedly without nearly busting a window of another coffee shop.

They. Are. Everywhere.

Seattle is the HQ for many non-retail specialty coffee companies. Here are a few of them:

  • Fresh Cup Magazine
  • La Marzocco
  • Espresso Supply

Read: Is Pour Over Coffee Brewing Worth The Effort?

Seattle’s also been the host of the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) Expo several times in the last decade, a specialty coffee event that includes a variety of coffee competitions, like the national Barista Championship.

As you can see, it’s not just a coffee shop hub. It’s an industry hub.

While you’re there, try:

Atlanta, Georgia

Though you may imagine Atlanta to be too hot to be a big coffee city, you’d be wrong. With no big specialty chains in the area (like Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia) the local scene has exploded with independent shops.

Atlanta hosted the SCAA Expo in 2016, which bolstered its coffee culture even more by bringing national attention to the city’s thriving scene.

While I haven’t personally been to Atlanta, I can only imagine the creative iced coffee drinks the city’s baristas have worked up.

While you’re there, try:

Austin, Texas

The young and thriving city of Austin is a coffee lover’s playground. The crisp, professional downtown has crisp, professional shops. The quirky surrounding neighborhoods have quirky coffee shops.

If you can’t decide between a craft beer and a coffee drink for your afternoon treat, don’t worry. Most shops have them both.

And don’t forget the tacos.

Seriously, almost every coffee shop serves tacos

Read: Making Iced Pour Over Coffee With The JavaPresse Dripper

While you’re there, try:

New York, New York

The coffee culture of New York City is quite mature. Sub-par shops have been forced out to make way for specialty shops, which line the streets with incredible density.

But, despite the high level of coffee, many places are geared specifically for take-away, which, when you consider the fast-paced environment, makes sense.

NYC is home to its own coffee conference, Coffee Masters. Though the conference includes its own professional coffee competitions, it’s a very newcomer friendly event. If you’re ever in the city in October, look to see if you can attend - you’ll learn a lot!

While you’re there, try:

San Francisco, California

Ah, the startup capital of the United States. As you can imagine, the tech professionals aiming to disrupt their various industries run on coffee (probably more than the average person).

As a result of the influx of income from these high-level inventors and business professionals, most of the local cafes have a very crisp, clean, and modern feel that reflects the city’s modern mood.

You won’t have any problems finding picturesque cafes around the bay area, and the local coffee community is very active and friendly.

Read: Want To Be A Coffee Aficionado? Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know

Make sure to tip your barista well - he/she probably spends a couple hours commuting every day (because what barista can afford to live in the middle of our nation’s startup capital?).

While you’re there, try:

Chicago, Illinois

I’ve always thought that Chicago has the most beautiful downtown in the country. The streets are clean, the parks and river are beautiful, and there’s great coffee everywhere.

The city has its own local organization, New Gotham Coffee Community. They periodically have events that are industry-centered, but they also have a weekly Thursday Night Throwdown at a local shop (a latte art competition that’s open to the public).

Definitely go to one of those if you have time!

While you’re there, try:

Denver, Colorado

This city in the foothills of the Rockies is growing at an astounding rate. With the influx of young professionals from around the country has also arrived a rich and diverse coffee culture.

You’ll find little punky cafes, modern cafe bar combos, your calm neighborly coffee house, and just about every other imaginable cafe style.

Read: How To Taste Coffee Bitterness

While you’re there, try:

Los Angeles, California

Located amidst a vast urban sprawl, the coffee scene in Los Angeles is also rich and diverse.

Compared to its northern neighbor of San Francisco, LA feels more down to earth, honest, and a little grungy at times.

In between your Hollywood star walk and visit to Universal Studios, there are plenty of stellar cafes to keep you busy.

While you’re there, try:


Though trips to these coffee destinations can quite exciting for us coffee fanatics, you don’t have to travel to one of these cities to find the best coffee in the world.

Our Coffee Club sends you freshly roasted coffee beans every other week.

As you know, coffee’s only at peak freshness for 2-3 weeks once roasted, so the fact that we send your beans your way only hours after being roasted means you’re always stocked with uber-fresh, specialty-grade beans.

Want to try coffee worthy of these hubs from the comfort of your home? Now you can.