The 11 Best Indie Coffee Shops in America
Boxcar Coffee Roasters – Denver
Denver’s coffee scene is booming and the four-year old Boxcar uses small batches of beans roasted in a German built Ideal Rapid roaster. They also helped develop Boilermaker to brew coffee at Colorado’s high elevation and low boiling temperature. In the tradition of classic “cowboy coffee” – the grounds are immersed in boiling water to extract the best flavor.
Toby’s Estate Coffee – Brooklyn, NY
Australian roaster, Toby Smith, who cut his teeth in Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee institutions plopped down in New York (with four locales). His first in Williamsburg, gives his rich, strong beans their powerful flavor profile. Opt for the signature Flat White with two shots of espresso, textured milk (sans foam) or order a cup of Brazilian Monte Alegre.
Blue Bottle Coffee – San Francisco/New York
Representing both New York City and San Francisco, this hip bicoastal roasting outfit, focuses on single-origin beans. Their method includes roasting on vintage gear, placed in compostable bags and delivered to customer’s lips within 48 hours. In the shops, beans are ground and filtered to order.
Colectivo Coffee - Milwaukee
With an impressive 12 locations in Milwaukee, Colectivo was named after public transport buses used across Latin America. After two storied decades of working with farmers, this venerable institution serves first-rate beans and pastries from its sister bakery, Troubadour. The cafes serve as meeting places and cultural outfits and bonus points, they pour their own beers available on tap.
Ristretto Roasters – Portland, OR
This Portland, Oregon outfit has churned out extra-small batches since 2005. Patrons flock for the signature, full-bodied Beaumont blend, best consumed as a straight espresso, latte or cappuccino. The Cowboy blend is packed with sweeter citrus notes. And since this is Portland, you can expect a rotating series of authors and poets as you snack on local bites from Kim Boyce’s Bake Shop.
Panther Coffee - Miami
As alumni of Stumptown and Ristretto, roasters Joel and Leticica Pollock received some of the best coffee education you can get in the U.S. And what started on a bicycle cart now has three Miami locales and coffee sourced from small farmers around the world.
Oddly Correct – Kansas City, MO
In the heartland, this brick-lined coffeehouse takes its coffee seriously and so should you. Their mantra: “We roast coffee. We pour coffee. We make art.” Some of that art includes their cold-brew coffee with hops and coffee bags complete with cool black and white letterpresses illustrations. Pssst: If you live in Kansas City, have your java bags delivered via bicycle.
Daylight Mind – Kailua-Kona, HI
In Kona, the caffeinated set can now find this roastery helmed by Ph.D. in coffee studies Shawn Steinman. The space offers classes on farming, roasting and brewing. You can also simply pop in at the farm-to-table restaurant serving local Hawaiian espresso flights. Please note, the Papa Kona coffee is best enjoyed at an oceanfront table.
Heritage Bicycles General Store - Chicago
This popular and well-received family, run Chicago-based bike store and café serves a dual purpose— java drinks for the thirsty and custom-built, handcrafted bikes and gear to ride home with. The bright, cheery Lincoln Park storefront doles out their own Heritage Brew and pastries from Southport Grocery and Café. An uptown Heritage Outpost serves as coffee-only spot.
Linea Caffe – San Francisco
Coffee legend Andrew Barnett opened his tiny, warm storefront café in 2013 and filled it with fresh Linea-brand beans roasted in the East Bay. The hungry will find a partnership from chef Anthony Myint (a founder of Mission Chinese) to craft a menu that goes beyond the typical of scones and baked goods. Try the savory “Brussels-style” waffles to match equally with top-notch brewed-to-cup coffee and espressos.
Blacksmith - Houston
The unpretentious, hip industrial shop Blacksmith uses local Greenway Coffee beans, expertly roasted, along with an inspiring menu of early morning and lunch items like Vietnamese steak and eggs. There’s a proper “coffee bar menu” focused on hand-made, singly variety coffees. Try the Spanish classic, a cortado (which translates to coffee “cut” with a dabble of warm milk).