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coffee fanatics

The majority of American adults are coffee drinkers. According to research from the National Coffee Association in 2018, 64% of Americans 18 or older said they drank a cup of coffee the day before. And cravings for a java boost are on the rise: Google data shows that interest in coffee in the U.S. is up 43% over the past five years. But if you are passionate about your caffeine intake, you may find that this relatively expensive beverage negatively impacts savings. Depending on where you live, though, it is possible to find high-quality coffee at a home-brewed price. Below, we rank the best cities for coffee fanatics.

In order to rank the best cities for coffee lovers, we looked at six metrics. We compared the cities by their Google search traffic for “coffee,” the total number of coffee shops, the number of coffee shops per 100,000 residents, the number of high-quality coffee shops, the average cappuccino price and the number of dedicated coffee roasters.

This is SmartAsset’s 2019 version of this study. Check out the 2018 version here.

Key Findings

  • Pacific Northwest reigns supreme – Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, take the top two spots once again. These cities combine high-quality coffee sourced from local roasters with a knowledgeable local coffee culture, making them tough-to-beat spots for coffee lovers.
  • The best coffee is going to cost you – If you are a dedicated “cofficionado,” you probably feel it in your budget. Only two cities ranked in the top 10 have a cappuccino with a below-average cost.

coffee fanatics

1. Portland, OR

Portland occupies the top spot again. You can bet on the quality of the coffee in Oregon’s largest city. Portland ranked first in both the number of dedicated local roasters and the number of highly rated cafes. This city also had the second-highest Google search traffic for coffee. Variety isn’t a problem here either. Portland ranked eighth and sixth respectively for total number of coffee shops and number of coffee shops per 100,000 residents.

2. Seattle, WA

That Seattle is a top spot for coffee lovers shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in light of coffee’s place in the city’s history. Seattle has long been at the cutting edge of coffee and that history bleeds into the local culture. It ranks below only two other cities in our study for Google search traffic for coffee. It makes sense that everyone is doing thorough research when trying to track down the perfect cup of joe: This city has nearly 1,800 different coffee spots to choose from.

3. Oakland, CA

The best coffee and the best coffee spots are typically expensive. In Seattle, a cappuccino would cost you $4.30 on average. But in Oakland, California, the third city on our list, a cup of the espresso-steamed milk-froth combination will cost you $3.86 on average. Oakland also has 16 dedicated roasters in the local area, meaning coffee shops in the area have access to freshly roasted and ground coffee.

4. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans has a distinct coffee culture. Residents here search Google for “coffee” 18% more than the national average, giving this Louisiana city a top-20 rate in that metric. New Orleans also has approximately 147 coffee places per 100,000 residents, another top-20 rate.

5. San Diego, CA

San Diego ranks third in our study for number of highly rated cafes (tied in this metric with Chicago, another top-10 city). It also has slightly more than 2,000 cafes, which factors into its overall ranking at fifth in our top 10 cities for coffee lovers. Coffee drinkers will also appreciate San Diego’s access to freshly roasted coffee beans. The city has seven dedicated roasters in the area, the ninth most in the country. Something to give a coffee lover pause before ordering, however, is the local cost of coffee in San Diego. Data shows that the average cappuccino will cost $4.38.

6. San Francisco, CA

Only one city in our top 10, Chicago, has a wider variety of coffee shops than San Francisco. So if you are the type of person who likes to sample various cafes and explore different parts of the city, San Francisco may be a good place for you. According to our data, there are nearly 2,600 coffee spots in San Francisco. But coffee is no exception when it comes to the city’s high cost of living. Numbeo estimates that the average cappuccino in the Golden Gate city will cost nearly $4.50.

7. Honolulu, HI

What could be better than sipping on your favorite beverage in the paradise of Honolulu? Presumably not much, but the average cost of a cappuccino in Honolulu may be a small drawback. Honolulu has the highest average cappuccino price in our study, at $5.07. It does, however, also offer many highly rated coffee shops from which to choose. Honolulu ranks fourth in our study for cafes per 100,000 residents.

8. Denver, CO

Denver has a little bit of everything to offer a coffee lover. There is a burgeoning local coffee culture, evidenced by how often locals search Google for the term “coffee.” Only 11 cities in our study google this beverage more often than the Colorado capital. Denver also ranks in the top 20 for the total number of cafes and ranks fifth for the number of highly rated cafes. Once again, though, coffee at its best can be expensive. Denver ranks 85th in our study for the average cost of a cappuccino.

9. Chicago, IL

Last year, Chicago just missed the top 10, finishing in 11th. This year, it made the jump into the top 10. The Windy City has the third-highest number of coffee shops in the nation, a little less than 2,700. What’s more, 43 of those cafes are highly rated, helping Chicago rank third in that metric as well. The 12 local dedicated coffee roasters also help ensure that the city’s many coffee shops stock freshly roasted beans.

10. Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas is perhaps known for beverages other than coffee, but the data suggests you shouldn’t overlook the coffee scene there. This city ranks seventh for the total number of cafes and fifth for number of cafes per 100,000 residents. Even if it takes a few extra searches and taste-tests, you should be able to find the spot that makes your coffee just how you like it.

coffee fanatics

Data and Methodology

In order to find the best cities for coffee fanatics, we looked at data on the 100 largest cities in the U.S. We specifically looked at the following six metrics:

  • Total number of coffee shops, coffee houses and cafes. Data comes from Yelp.
  • Coffee shops, coffee houses and cafes per 100,000 residents. Data on number of coffee establishments comes from Yelp. Population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Number of highly rated coffee shops. This is the number of coffee shops that are rated 4.5 stars or higher on Yelp.
  • Average price of a cappuccino. Data comes from Numbeo.
  • Google search traffic for “coffee” as a percent of the national average. This is how many times residents in an area searched for the term “coffee” in the past year compared to the national average for that search term. Data comes from Google.
  • Total number of coffee and tea manufacturers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2016 Business Patterns Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. Then we found each city’s average ranking and gave equal weight to each metric. We used this average ranking to create our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a 100. The city with the worst average ranking received a 0.

Tips for Maximizing Your Savings

  • Set a budget – Coffee often takes a hit by extreme budgeters looking to cut every extraneous purchase. But if you love coffee and budget well, there is no reason to miss out on your daily cup. According to the 50-30-20 budget plan, you should spend 50% of your income on requirements such as housing, spend 30% of your income on wants, and set aside 20% of your income for savings. If you can find room for your coffee in that 30% category, you’ll be good to go.
  • Get some expert advice – To make the most of your savings, it might be a good idea to seek the help of a financial advisor. The right person can help you organize your savings into the right kinds of investments, whether they are in the housing market, the stock market or your 401(k). If you are not sure where to find a financial advisor, check out SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool. It will pair you with up to three local financial advisors who fit your investing needs.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Geber86

Derek Miller, CEPF® Derek Miller is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he studied economics. He is passionate about using data to help people make better financial decisions. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He is a data journalist whose expertise is in finding the stories within the numbers. Derek's writing has been featured on Yahoo, AOL, and Huffington Post. He believes the biggest financial mistake people make is waiting too late to save for retirement and missing out on the wonders of compounding interest. Derek lives in Brooklyn.
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