The 60 Coolest Coffee Shops in America
Both wine and freshly brewed, locally roasted coffee flow at 45 South -- and on Fridays and Saturdays, music flows just as freely. Blues, jazz and rock bands keep the crowds coming back -- or maybe it's the locally made cakes and banana bread, or housemade syrups.
For early birds looking to get a jump on sunrise, Achilles is probably not the right place: It doesn't even open until 10 a.m. But the coffee is worth waiting for -- it's made by Golden Hills, a local micro-roastery. The European vibe just oozes coffee culture, and the art on the walls is by local talent and all for sale.
In downtown Cleveland, there's not only a great cup of coffee, but a place that does as much to support the local arts community as any business in town. Artefino Cafe rotates a selection of photography, paintings, and other works created by the same local talent eating and drinking there.
Historic Phoenixville is home to Artisans Gallery and Cafe, which is owned by a family with Sicilian roots. When they hear words such as "espresso" and "cappuccino," they think not of chic urban baristas with curly mustaches and "Star Wars" T-shirts, but of the Old World coffee gurus who developed those classic Italian drinks. There's pottery and other works from local artists on display and, of course, Italian pastry.
Inspired by the quaint, ethnic cafes that line the streets of Tel Aviv, the Art Cafe offers beer, wine, Prosecco cocktails and an impressive lineup of classic Israeli cuisine -- but the magic is in the coffee. Art Cafe serves only coffee by Counter Culture, which roasts sustainable beans grown by farmers in developing nations.
What makes the Tampa-area Art Smart special is that instead of renting space to artists to display whatever they create, the owner -- a big-league art aficionado -- curates the collection himself. The beans behind its addictive brew comes from Blazing Beans Roasters, an artisanal roaster in nearby Clearwater.
Ashland Coffee & Tea has spent more than 20 years serving not just the drinks in its name, but also a nice selection of food and snacks. The place is an institution because of its commitment to the concept of coffeehouses as gathering places for people who love live music. Jazz pianists, classical composers, and Grammy nominees keep the place full -- but there's always room for local talent.
Wednesday is open mic night at Babylon Bean, and every Friday and Saturday the shop converts into a music venue. The coffee comes from beans grown worldwide but roasted locally, on Long Island, and never ground anywhere but in-house. The real treat, however, is cold: Don't leave without grabbing an Italian gelato or sorbetto.
Even national talent flocks to Blue Moose to play music and exhibit art, but don't lose sight of the comprehensive menu: Rich shakes and smoothies, exotic teas, imported beers, Swiss water process decaf, and organic vegetarian fare are a few of the seemingly endless options for the thirsty and hungry.
It addition to boasting of being "Nashville's oldest and most celebrated coffeehouse," Bongo Java is home to the Nun Bun -- the cinnamon bun looking a little like Mother Teresa that made the shop Internet famous in 1996. More seriously, it's a darling of local cuisine critics and home to a cozy theater and music venue, the separately run Bongo After Hours Theatre.
Landing a place on Zagat's "8 Hottest Coffee Shops in Miami" list is Brothers and Brawlers. It serves espresso drinks, cold brews, and everything else expected at a hip Miami boutique cafe -- but the gritty, industrial, man cave-esque coffee shop doubles as a biker clothing and supplies store.
New Orleans, LA
If you're in or around the Big Easy, it's worth a trip to Cafe Du Monde for history alone. Open 24 hours a day every day -- except for Christmas and during hurricanes -- the classic coffee shop was founded in 1862 as the Civil War raged around it. You can get coffee black or au lait at Cafe Du Monde, which is so traditional the coffee menu consists of dark roast, chicory, and nothing else.
Folksy, acoustic acts have been synonymous with coffee shop music for generations, but at Coffee Grinder DJs spin electronic music every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night. Whether you choose a mocha latte or a Corona and lime while bopping to house, trance, and progressive beats, you're sipping a drink in one of the hippest modern coffee shops in the Sunshine State.
Crescent Moon has been making its mark on Lincoln's historic Haymarket District since 2001. Single origin, locally roasted espresso drinks are poured as paninis and made-to-order crepes are devoured. Local musicians and artists flock to the place to perform and exhibit talents for the arts-hungry local population.
Savannah is teeming with awesome coffee shops, but Foxy Loxy doesn't just wake before dawn to bake homemade pastries and prep Perc coffee, which has yet to roast a bad bean; it also has Tex-Mex flavor and a Czech-inspired pastry called kolache that helps it stand out, and Saturday s'mores events around a backyard fire pit.
Like so many cafes in the coffee mecca of the great Northwest, Governor's Cup take coffee very seriously -- roasting globally and greenly harvested beans on a vintage, cast-iron Probat -- but without a trace of pretension. The fresh sandwiches, music, and art help.
More than 180 artists are represented in the space in Lexington that High on Art & Coffee calls home. Locals flock there not just for the high-octane coffee, but to buy gifts from local artists for themselves and others at the exhibitions and events the staff opens to the public.
Good coffee, good people, good music. That's the Kick Butt way. Home to the iconic SXSW festival, Austin is a music city, and Kick Butt is plugged into the scene with nearly nightly performances by some of the neighborhood's top talent. Oh, and it hosts drawings with prizes such as free kung fu and tai chi lessons.
Exposed brick and reclaimed wood tables let visitors know that Menagerie was once an art gallery. Zagat raves about the joe, which comes exclusively from Dogwood Coffee Co. in Minneapolis -- everything else is locally sourced from the area around the Old City neighborhood that Menagerie calls home.
There are three locations in the sophisticated Onyx Coffee Lab chain, which brings high design, impressive drink chops (including inventions such as the Oatchata and Winter Gibraltar), and carefully chosen snacks (such as Avocado & Prosciutto toast with pickled onion and cracked pepper) that differ from Fayetteville to Springdale to Bentonville to the upcoming Rogers headquarters.
Claiming the perfectly worded title of "cultural oasis in a plastic wasteland," Otherlands is the heart of Memphis' historic Cooper Young district. Live bluegrass and rock music pours out of the place every Friday and Saturday night, and inside is a rotating art exhibit and secret gift shop.
Los Angeles, CA
Ever since it was profiled on "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," it's safe to say the secret is out about Primera Taza. But in case you hadn't heard, the Boyle Heights mainstay is a cultural soup -- the coffee, food, and the people they serve there represent a blend of the neighborhood's diverse people and backgrounds.
San Antonio, TX
If you love good coffee and happen to very hungry, Sabina's breaks the mold of modest coffee shop meals with smothered deliciousness such as sweet potato hash and a famous layered breakfast. Wash it down with coffee or try a house drink such as the lavender lemonade or ginger lavish.
Cowboy hats, prairie dresses, and bolo ties adorn the musicians in the log cabin-style Sacred Grounds, but the coffee and food is 100 percent modern. Vegans and vegetarians have plenty of options, as do hardcore coffee connoisseurs 7,000 feet above sea level in the beautiful Sacramento Mountains.
Quartz Hill, CA
Everyone knows that great coffee shops are part of the culture of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and the rest of California's destination cities -- but Sagebrush Cafe is a hidden gem in Antelope Valley serving up some of the finest espresso drinks in the state.
Salt Lake City, UT
Three Pines was founded by musicians in Los Angeles whose day jobs -- serving coffee -- turned into a passion. That passion comes out in some of the creamiest, most perfectly blended coffee drinks in Salt Lake City. The co-founders honed their craft so finely that other coffee shops use them as consultants.
Wake Forest, NC
Comedians, musicians, artists and actors showcase their talent at Wake Forest Coffee, with most musical acts sticking to the classic acoustic and semi-acoustic coffee house format. The coffee is from a local roaster in Greensboro, and the cafe is known for its welcoming atmosphere and community ties -- the local chess club even meets there.
Famous for its pastries and savories and known for an obsession with Ethiopian beans, World Coffee Cafe is in a class by itself in Asheville because of the stunning mountain views from the SkyBar -- breathtaking even for people used to living in the postcard-perfect Great Smoky Mountains.