The Best Places In The U.S. To Get Coffee — Don't Shoot The Messenger

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy, Patryk Gauza/Unsplash and Fourleaflover/Getty

As moms, there are some universal truths that we tend to identify with—1) We love our children fiercely.. 2) It hurt us more when someone is mean to them than when they bump their heads. 3) They’ll almost always eat chicken if it’s in some sort of nugget form.

Oh, and coffee. 4) We can’t do this without coffee.

Obviously, there are exceptions. We all know that one mom who naturally just has energy to function every day and doesn’t drink caffeine. Or that mom who’s like “I drink tea!”, never yells at her kids, and grows her own herbs.

But most of us rely on several shots of caffeine to power us through the day—shots that usually get poured into a fun #momlife mug and are made from ground up magical beans that give us life. (Or at least turn us from haggard, half-asleep she-beasts into functioning-ish she-beasts.)

And within the coffee-drinking world, there’s a range, isn’t there? You’ve got your hard-core black coffee drinkers who like scorching their throats and stomach lining with the strongest Colombian beans on the market. And then there are coffee drinkers like me who who would crawl to the grocery store on their hands and knees for some pumpkin spice creamer if they had to.

Also, there are Starbucks people and Dunkin Donuts people. You know which one you are. I grew up in Dunkin-land where there was one every on every block. But when I moved to a new state and I didn’t see one for miles, I had to make the switch. And while I do love me a grande caramel macchiato, I’m not one of those “vente whip non-fat soy milk fairy dust unicorn elixir” type people with the 20-minute long order. Just a $6, 500-calorie coffee for me, thanks. I’m a simple girl.

So to honor the 62% of Americans who drink coffee daily (61.5 of whom are probably exhausted parents), WalletHub did some research and ranked 100 cities across America according to their allegiance to coffee culture.

Mike Kenneally/Unsplash

Let’s see where your city ranks!

Home of pretty much all the best coffee shops in the world, no one is surprised to see Seattle as #1. If you live there, the rest of us coffee lovers are jealous as we chew down our $1 gas station coffee and dream of your trendy seaside cafes and adorable couples in matching flannels.

San Francisco and Portland fall in at numbers two and three with other cities like Pittsburgh, Denver, and Atlanta making the top 10.

Arlington, TX and Madison, WI come in around around 50, and we’re sorry to say, Toledo, OH, that you are 100 out of 100 when it comes to coffee. Not sure how you’re all functioning out there, but frankly, we’re worried about you.

The study also reveals that Miami’s coffee is the lowest in price, Orlando has the most coffee shops per square root of population (those Disney parents are tiiiiiiired), and Gilbert, AZ has the highest percentage of households with a single-use/pod type coffee maker.

And, WalletHub gives us a glimpse into the history of coffee as well—like, did you know that coffee became popular in the U.S. after the Boston Tea Party and was seen a “patriotic” switch in beverage choice? (Screw you, King George! We coffee bitches now.)

Also, another fun fact—the modern version of roasted coffee originated in Arabia! And, according to PBS Food, “During the 13th century, coffee was extremely popular with the Muslim community for its stimulant powers, which proved useful during long prayer sessions.”

Other interesting java facts in the WalletHub study might surprise you. For example, apparently the average American drinks three cups daily. Like, not by 8 a.m.? For the whole day?! (Moms everywhere are like hahahaha okay.)

And, scientific research says, “Caffeine possesses multiple health benefits besides mental stimulation. At the right dosages, caffeine may contribute to longevity.” (It’s certainly contributing to my ability to get through this long-ass day of virtual learning, so I buy that.)

Other cities make the list for coffee-related stats too. Laredo, TX has the fewest coffee shops per capita. Chesapeake, VA has one of the lowest percentages of adult coffee drinkers. And the lowest percentage of income spent on coffee? Apparently, those folks live in Detroit.

WalletHub isn’t the only list, of course, that claims to know all things coffee. Thrillist ranked the top 21 coffee shops in the nation, and the top one is in Grand Rapids, MI. #2 is in Kansas City. So honestly, wherever you go in these beautifully caffeinated 50 states, you’ll probably find good coffee. You might just look a little harder in some cities.

And, of course, like everything else this year, things have changed. People don’t have as much extra cash to splurge on a pumpkin spice latte these days. Or they’re not willing to hang out in a Starbucks like they used to and would rather mask up and get it to go. But as a working/homeschooling/pandemic-surviving parent, I’m pretty sure America’s coffee drinking isn’t slowing down. It’s not in my house at least, I realize, as I perk our second full pot at 10 a.m.

But if you’re pinching pennies like never before, you can still enjoy your daily cup of joe. WalletHub’s study included a quick Q & A with some experts, one of whom suggested that rather than buying your coffee while you’re out, you can instead brew your coffee at home to save money. Another option is to try cheaper coffee-to-go options, like McDonald’s, over the more expensive Starbucks type.

Because honestly, everything sucks this year. So if a hot cup of coffee—whether it’s black and scathing or drowning in peppermint flakes and whipped cream—makes you feel like life sucks just a little bit less, you need it. And you deserve it.

Starbucks runs are called self-care, Brad. Look it up.

And, thankfully, as we continue to sludge through a pandemic, coffee shops quickly realized they had to switch over to more COVID-19 friendly options, like using mobile apps and call-in options as well as contact-less delivery. Also, to give us all the hope we desperately need, expert Pradip Shukla, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management at Chapman University says that coffee shops and cafes should be able to bounce back post-pandemic. “Most businesses that re-open should do well,” Dr. Shukla says, “as individuals want to get back into their original pre-Covid-19 lifestyle with routines like going to the gym and to a coffee shop.”

OMG I hope so. On my longest days of logging my kids into zoom chats for the 98th time and telling my son that yes, he does, in fact need to wear a shirt to virtual school, I dream of the day I can put them on the bus, wave bye-bye, and go sit in a coffee shop for an hour. Please be there when the pandemic is over! That dream is what keeps us going.

So whether you live in Seattle, the coffee capital of America, or your city is scraping the bottom of the barrel in the java department, find a way to enjoy your daily cup of joe however you like it.

That might mean your kids get Generic-Os cereal this week so you can splurge on caramel latte creamer. Or hop in the car, blast some Hamilton, and do a Dunkin Donuts run on Saturday morning. Then take the long way home.

Do what you need to, and don’t feel guilty for a second. Because we all know that the whole family is safer and better off when Mama has her java.

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