Coffee Culture Coast to Coast
Coffee has made a long journey from its roots in Ethiopia to England via Ottoman Turkey and making the jump across the ocean to the Americas. In the United States, several events occurred to elevate coffee to the near sacred status it enjoys today, from the Boston Tea Party to the world wars.
These days, there is a dizzying array of coffee blends, shops, and roasters in nearly every major U.S. city. We’ve included three of our own destinations with robust coffee cultures, each with its own distinct variations, production techniques, and customs.
Land of Starbucks and famous for its overcast weather that forces people inside and into a warming cup of joe, Seattle has enjoyed a reputation as a leader in the coffee industry. Walking around neighborhoods like Capitol Hill or the University District or even driving out of town and passing the numerous coffee shacks along the highways, you can see how vital this commodity is for the Pacific Northwest.
For your next coffee pilgrimage to Seattle, here are the places we think should be top on your itinerary:
Pike Place Starbucks: Within Pike Place Market is the longest-running Starbucks just down the block from where this now-global coffee giant began. Will you brave the line or just grab a selfie before heading to Ghost Alley Espresso just next to the infamous Seattle Gum Wall?
Starbucks Reserve Roastery: Located in a former 1920s auto showroom, the Reserve is an impressive and oftentimes overwhelming roastery with all the bells, whistles, and pipes and tubes snaking overhead, delivering freshly roasted coffee right into your cup. Don’t forget to hit up the bar for an expresso martini!
Café Allegro: Established in 1975, Café Allegro is known as one of the city’s first espresso shops and for its ties to the Starbucks chain. Enjoy both a fresh cup and sidewalk seating perfect for people-watching.Vita at KEXP: Caffe Vita is another Seattle favorite, with multiple locations across the city, including their roastery in Capitol Hill. The Seattle Center location is particularly unique, being that it’s situated inside the studios of KEXP, an alternative and indie rock radio station.
Vita at KEXP: Caffe Vita is another Seattle favorite, with multiple locations across the city, including their roastery in Capitol Hill. The Seattle Center location is particularly unique, being that it’s situated inside the studios of KEXP, an alternative and indie rock radio station.
If you like your espresso strong and sweet and paired with good conversation, head to Miami. Here, you can explore the world of Cuban coffee, including the cafecito, colada, cortadito, and café con leche.
Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina: A favorite of our guides, Old’s is a great place to try a cafecito, an espresso shot which is sweetened with natural brown sugar. Stay for the cocktails, live music, and ambience.
Versailles: Serving its community since 1971 and touting themselves as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant”, the outdoor coffee window of this well-known Little Havana institution is the place to grab a cortado to go – espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk.
Cortadito Coffee House: Here’s where you can really go all out immersing yourself in Cuban coffee culture. Try their cortadito (a double shot of Espresso and steamed milk), a strong coladita for sharing, or a Ms. Eva (espresso and evaporated milk).
Even before Bostonians famously dumped British shipments of tea into the harbor, the French brought their own unique blend of coffee and chicory (the root of a pretty blue flower that grows well in disturbed soils and throughout the United States) to New Orleans around 1720. The city of New Orleans became a major receiver of coffee beans from Latin America.
Café Du Monde: Chicory coffee became even more popular during the Civil War, and in New Orleans, this specialty is served with warm milk (cafe au lait) and powdery beignets at the famous Cafe du Monde. Grab a newspaper and a cup, and watch which way the wind is blowing…
Coffee Science: Time to have a bit of fun with your coffee: Coffee Science often uses fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as local roasters for their creative concoctions. Try out their Venetian Creme, a “creamy iced latte with coconut milk, oat milk, and a splash of cane sugar”.
French Truck Coffee: Besides receiving rave reviews for their iced coffees, French Truck Coffee is a great place to dive deeper into the origins of your coffee beans and understand what “responsible” coffee means. Additionally, the company donates a portion of sales to the communities surrounding their locations in New Orleans.
There are many more local shops and roasters we love in each of our destinations, but hopefully this short list inspires your next coffee-fueled travels!