Top Coffee Stops — AB Road Eats


ALABAMA

Octane Coffee (Birmingham): Finally! A coffee shop and bar in one space so that at about 3 p.m. I can just walk to the other side of the room. Although Octane is seriously grounded in the pour-over tradition, (see what I did there) they actually produced the finest iced latte I’ve ever tasted.

ARIZONA

Cartel Coffee Lab (Tucson): I have to admit that I really like the fact they call themselves a “lab.” The coffee is good and the space is great.

CALIFORNIA

Coffee Plus Food (Los Angeles): Order a flat white and several of their sticky buns to-go. Or stay so you can order more.

Coffee Commissary (Los Angeles): Without a doubt this establishment (with several locations) has some of the best coffee in the city. Not to mention out-of-this-world pastries (like a raspberry and kumquat turnover when in-season).

Glanville & Babinski Coffee (Los Angeles): I have a need. A need for…cortados! And the G&B Coffee in downtown LA has answered that need. Now I need another.

The WestBean (San Diego): If you’re in the Downtown area of San Diego, you’ll want to try the cortado or latte from WestBean (and a brown butter espresso muffin).

Mazarine Coffee (San Francisco): The best way to knock off the fog in this fine city is with a cup of coffee. I started my day off with a latte from Mazarine.

La Capra Coffee (San Francisco): I learned something new from La Capra. The short glass I’m usually served cortados in, is called a Gibraltar. They’ve named their drink after the glass and that’s what I ordered.

FLORIDA

Lineage (Orlando): A coffee roaster that bottles single-servings of black coffee (or one ready to go with milk and sugar), heck yeah.

Brew D Licious (St Petersburg): I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, the coffee or one the establishment’s owners. The coffee was exactly what I was looking for. But the wonderful and personable owner was truly the icing on the cake for me (as well as the coasters with cats and dogs with wigs). The shop itself has one of my favorite features: a garage door. Pull up a seat at the counter and take in the fresh air.

Subculture Coffee (West Palm Beach): I absolutely got my C8H10N4O2 on at this roaster. It’s one of the best coffee’s I’ve had on the road in Florida and they’ve got cookies to boot. Couple pieces of awesome furniture and I’m sold.

GEORGIA

1000 Faces Coffee (Athens): Off the beaten path (a couple of miles from the center of town), but well worth the trip. The shop is no-frills, a big metal table, a few shelves and some garage doors, but they’re carefully curating beans you don’t see every day and roasting to flavor-friendly medium roast. And when they talk coffee, they get crazy eye. I like that.

The Coffee Fox (Savannah): Cold brew, a cortadito and a fantastic logo. I also love getting being able to walk to a local coffee house. Especially a good one with a great vibe. Thanks for keeping me caffeinated multiple times in Savannah, Coffee Fox.

ILLINOIS

Thirty-Thirty Coffee (Peoria): These talented folks know how to make a pour over and a latte. And come on, there’s a massive bear in their shop (see photo above).

Rockford Roasting Co. (Rockford): These guys know what they’re doing. And I’m not just saying that because they opened the shop just for me on a day they’re normally closed. They’re genuinely educated about their profession and are using parts of the bean (cascara) that I’ve never heard of before for iced teas.

INDIANA

Fortezza Coffee (Fort Wayne): I got a tip from a fan that a newly opened coffee shop, just blocks away from the theater I was performing at, was the place to go. And it was just that.

KANSAS

Reverie Roasters (Wichita): If Espresso To Go Go is a nightclub, Reverie is a laboratory for caffeinated hipsters. The guys making coffee here are serious about their brews and took the time to educate me on just about everything. I enjoyed their coffee and latte, and especially their cold brew which I got to-go for the bus. They also have a pretty cool logo which is critical for a great coffee shop.

Espresso To Go Go (Wichita): I went to both of this coffee establishments locations so that could behold the giant disco mirror ball in one and a life-size winged unicorn in the other. I’d heard that there was a secret menu that you had to request. I did. And on that first visit I ordered a Sid Vicious: Seven shots of espresso mixed with five sugars. And then I danced under that big shiny ball … for 3 hours. On my second visit I truly enjoyed their Vietnamericano featuring sweetened condensed milk and espresso, (I skipped the whipped cream). The only freaky thing was that the exact same girls were working in both locations. Clones? Who cares.

KENTUCKY

A Cup of Common Wealth (Lexington): Here’s a cool concept: a pay-it-forward coffee shop. A fan of mine tweeted that she left me “any drink I wanted” here. So I left her one too. Anyone can pay-it-forward, and you can also add stipulations like, “sing for your coffee” or “any drink when you dance.”  

MAINE

Coffee by Design (Portland): I ventured into a different part of town for this roaster. As soon as you enter in, you see the roasters at work — it’s an incredible site.  

NEBRASKA

Cultiva Coffee (Lincoln): Had my first iced pour over coffee from Cultiva. Won’t be my last. More coffee bars should be doing this.

Legends Comics & Coffee (Omaha): This is one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been to simply for the combo of comics and coffee. And it was good coffee. I don’t know everything about the comic world, but the guys here showed me the way through new comics I should be reading, including those from Europe.  

NEW YORK

Public Espresso (Buffalo): A start up that’s growing in popularity at farmers’ markets and is finally getting its own brick and mortar. I had a lot of great pour-over cups on this trip, but I think my best was in Buffalo. Go figure.

Ninth Street Espresso (New York, NY): I’ve spent enough time in this city to know this is the best coffee in New York City. There I said it. And I stand by it. No matter what you order (latte, cappuccino, etc.), it’s the best. And they have multiple locations, so there’s no excuse not to try it.

OHIO

Coffee Emporium (Cincinnati): I don’t say this often, but the barista made me a perfect honey latte. Granted, I’d never had a honey latte, but I can’t imagine it getting any better than this. If it hadn’t been so late in the day, I would have gone back for another.

Rising Star Coffee (Cleveland): There is a serious coffee scene happening in Cleveland and Rising Star is the epicenter. They’re serious about sourcing, roasting and brewing for full flavor and aroma and about making sure they treat everyone from the growers to the customers right. It’s in a funky space in a funky neighborhood and … well … funky.

OKLAHOMA

Elemental Coffee Roasters (Oklahoma City): I ordered an iced latte and it was fantastic. So good I didn’t even snap a photo (went down that fast).

OREGON

Extracto Coffee Roasters (Portland): Great space, great logo and a good Mexican pour over to boot.

PENNSYLVANIA

Little Amps Coffee (Harrisburg): I took a quick trip to Harrisburg to visit this roaster and I’ll just say this. It was the best cortado I’ve had on the road so far. And yes they really do have some little amps (guitar amps that is).

Elixr Coffee Roasters (Philadelphia): I finally got around to trying a recommended roaster called Elixr. I was a fan of their logo quickly and their coffee was fantastic.  

SOUTH CAROLINA

Coffee & Crema (Greenville): If you’re walking on Main Street, there’s a good chance you might walk past this hole-in-the-wall (literally). But try and seek it out if you have the time — even the milk they’re using is something to brag about.  

SOUTH DAKOTA

Coffea Roasterie (Sioux Falls): A cappuccino from Coffea was the perfect way to start my day in Sioux Falls. If you’re looking for a latte or cappuccino-type drink in Sioux Falls, this would be the place to go.

Black Sheep Coffee (Sioux Falls): This place pretty much had my name on it (Get it? Black sheep …). I ordered a cortado and I would also add this is the place to get a pour over.

TENNESSEE

K Brew (Knoxville): Awesome logo. Awesome antoccino (a 1:1 espresso/steamed milk combo). You guys really have something going on in K-Town.

TEXAS

Blacksmith Coffee (Houston): There’s a reason why there’s a line almost out the door for this coffee. It’s good.

Brown Coffee Co. (San Antonio): Say hello to the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life. And no, I’m not saying that because of the name.

UTAH

La Barba Coffee Roasting (Salt Lake City): Tucked inside a restaurant, La Barba is one classy coffee bar. I had my morning cortado here, but would like to come back and try their lattes and pour overs. 

VIRGINIA

Lamplighter Roasting Co. (Richmond): I went to their Addison location and really liked the environment and outside seating.  

WASHINGTON

Coeur Coffee (Spokane): I had a fantastic Americano here … one of the best of the Edible Inevitable Tour in 2015. Really loved the back room art too.

North Town Coffeehouse (Yakima): This establishment kept me caffeinated all day (I went twice). They’re serving up Stumptown Coffee in an old train station.  

WISCONSIN

Valentine Coffee (Milwaukee): These guys are top notch roasters and I had a killer cortado. This goes on the list of one of the best cups I’ve ever had.

CANADA

The Ministry of Coffee (Ottawa): Some of Ottawa’s best caffeine can be found here.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar (Toronto): I downed a cortado and a flat white from this coffee bar. Why? Why not.

Revolver Coffee (Vancouver): They know what they’re doing there (they also have great pastries), plus it’s a great shop with all the coffee-making equipment you could ever need.

Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee (Vancouver): The location I visited not only provided coffee, but they’ve partnered up with Lucky’s Doughnuts. Match made in heaven. The coffee was strong and good. Presentation was impressive.

Images © Alton Brown, 2014-2015

76 Comments

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  1. 2
    Tricia

    Didn’t see anything for Maryland – if you are on the Eastern Shore (which, hello crabs and oysters!) the St Michaels/Easton based Rise Up coffee is truly stellar. Grassroots as it gets – started as a little drive up box (think photo processing centers in parking lots in the 80’s) and now they roast some of the finest beans I’ve ever had – and I’ve lived within walking distance of La Colombe, Intelligentsia, and the now distant memory that was Alterra.

    Plus if you are on the oyster kick you’ll probably LOVE the new book out by Kate Livie about the history and future of the eastern shore’s treasured feast!

  2. 5
    Rachel

    First of all, I love you Alton Brown , and coffee, secondly, if you’re ever in Nashville, check out The Frothy Monkey! Soo good!!!

  3. 11
    Jackie H.

    Mr.Brown thank you so much for the shout out to my favourite coffee shop 49th Parallel in Vancouver, BC. So glad you enjoyed it when you came up here for your show.

  4. 13
    Connie Akerley

    Mr. Brown…thanks for the list of coffee establishments. As a true fan of coffee (and a fan of YOU), I DO, however, recommend an awesome locally owned coffee house and diner called “Butter It Up” which is taking our region by storm with a variety of coffee blends made with grass-fed butter and grass-fed creams, as well as luncheon/dinner fares made with organically, locally grown and raised produce and proteins. Butter It Up is spreading like “paleo wild fire” with more than five locations opened over the past year in our trip-state alone. I invite you to come and sample it. The first coffee is on me!

  5. 14
    K.

    Wait? Boston can’t make this list? You’ve never been to Ula’s in Jamaica Plain and the the cafe Cubano? Or the spicy mocha made from rich ganache and wonderful fiery herbs? You simple haven’t lived yet, dear Sir. But there’s still time.

  6. 15
    Chris Ptacek

    It would be criminal for you travel to St. Louis and not try Sump Coffee–or to Chicago and not try Ipsento… or Sunergos in Louisville… or… or… 🙂 These places make some of the best Cortados I’ve ever had, and that’s become enough of an obsession of mine that we’re opening a coffee roastery in our little town. Seriously, you will lose your mind at Sump.

  7. 16
    Luquette

    My Submission for Nevada : Grouchy John’s, in Las Vegas. great environment, great quality coffee, and unique Star Wars themed drinks, such as the Jedi, Sith, and the Lando smoothie!

  8. 21
    Alpha Soffel

    An interesting dialogue is price comment. I believe that you should write more on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic but typically people are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  9. 25
    Steven

    Late to the discussion, but Octane does have several locations in Atlanta (Westside, Grant Park and Buckhead). Wild Heaven Craft Beers over in Avondale Estates uses 1000 Faces Coffee in their Ode To Mercy Imperial Brown Ale.

  10. 26
    Bob Bruce

    Hi Alton:

    If you are in Citrus county in Florida, make sure you stop in and say HI at the “Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters” in Hernando. You won’t be disappointed. Best coffee in the county and outstanding breakfast / lunch fare at reasonable prices. Great community support by the locals and many out of town folks. Don’t miss it, see you there………..

  11. 27
    Stan F

    Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in Hernando Florida not only has great coffee, sandwiches and snacks, but also New England Lobster Rolls clam chowdah and lobster bisque as good as I have had on Cape Cod.

  12. 28
    Susan Moore

    Tucked away in Hernando, FL is a place called The Cattle Dog and NO you won’t get a dog with baked beans and fries here but you WILL get more than just coffee. The beans are roasted right there! To your specifications. And remember we aren’t talking baked beans around the campfire we are talking about divine coffee. At the holidays I buy Jamaican me Crazy for my friends and I have to keep it in the garage because the aroma is so powerful! But enough about the coffee. James makes the best food in the county. Friday is lobster roll day and you better have your’s reserved! My favorite however is the chicken, pecan and cranberry salad. YUM. On the weekends we have demanded that he bring back brunch. It brought back 7 pounds. I don’t care. We don’t need no stinkin Starbucks around here because we have the Cattle Dog. So Alton don’t miss out just because you have never heard of Hernando before. You can swim with manatees in Crystal River while you are in Citrus County if you want. Just make sure you wait half an hour after you eat before you go swimming 🙂

  13. 29
    Will Morris

    #ABRoadEatsGburg
    Try the Ugly Mug Cafe at 168 Carlisle St, Gettysburg, PA.
    I would personally recommend pretty much any drink, but I would especially recommend an “arepa,” which is a kind of sandwich with cornmeal bread instead of wheat bread.

  14. 31
    Sue Carvajal

    We know the best coffe shop in Citrus County FL is The Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters. Unique and tasty sandwiches and treats to go along with your daily coffee. My husband and I are daily visitors and have been for five years. It’s the place where friends and meet new friends.
    Sue and Juan Carvajal

  15. 33
    Maribel

    If u want a cup of coffee that is comforting, mood changing and simply the best come to Cattle Dog in Hernando, Florida aka as Mayberry! U will not be disappointed!

  16. 34
    Kim

    Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in Hernando FL is a very special place. They have wonderful flavors of coffee roasted on site and a menu that is fabulous. Alton come visit Cattle Dog to find out for yourself why this is the place to go for your coffee.

  17. 36
    Jenny Snead

    Good Eats is one of the shows my husband and I watch on the weekends along with Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen. I really think you should come to Citrus County Florida and visit Cattle Dogs in Hernando. They have the best coffee..

  18. 38
    Shelby C

    Cattledog coffee roasters! They are located in Hernando FL and I highly recommend them! The atmosphere and the staff are amazing, they greet everyone by name! They have a huge selection of drinks and the coffee is out of this world! They roast all their coffee beans on site, which makes the place smell amazing! Not to mention they have a food menu that changes every month and always have fresh pastries! You must stop in here if you’re in the area!!

  19. 49
    Rhoda Ann

    Finally some love for Vietnamise (I can’t spell) but anyway Vietnamise coffe. I got turned on to it in a small eatery in Humble, TX. I now go back for the coffee. The folks see me coming and immediately pour my order.

  20. 51
    James

    Seattle may be an epicenter for great coffee, but there are many gems that aren’t on your typical lists. Coffee shops like Vivace and Victrola are incredibly overrated and the customer service is atrociously snarky. I’m sure you wouldn’t receive poor service, but many of us do. Slate coffee in Ballard is a definite go-to as well as Caffe Ladro which has many locations but the Capitol HIll location is the best of them all!

  21. 54
    nicole

    If you happen to come to Orange County, CA, specifically Costa Mesa, I highly recommend Portola Coffee Lab. You will love all the science.

  22. 56
    R

    Richmond, Va. didn’t make this list at all while you were here? Lamplighter Roasting Company, Alchemy, Lift, Black Hand…all places worth stopping in and getting a cup at.

  23. 57
    Matt M

    So glad to see some love for LIttle Amps!!!! It’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and a great atmosphere too! I’m lucky to live right down the street.

  24. 58
    Daniel A.

    I’m glad to see two of my favorites on this list: Octane and 1000 Faces. I’m curious as to why you picked the Octane in Birmingham? I’ve been once, it was great! I just have a soft spot for the one near Georgia Tech off Marrieta St. I’m so eager to try these others! Try The Cup in Boulder, Colorado if you get the opportunity.

  25. 59
    Beth Armstrong

    #ABRoadEatsSeattle: The Global Bean in Silverdale. Silverdale is an hour west of Seattle across Puget Sound. If you can get away from Seattle take the Bremerton ferry and go north.

  26. 61
    Dawn Fulkerson

    AB!!! RE: Coffee…. two words: La Colombe in New York, Los Angeles, Philly, Chicago, DC and Seoul (in case you decide to do a Korean spin off!). Todd Carmichael and what that man does to find, grind and brew coffee will forever change what you think coffee is. And just to be clear – we all have been wrong for so many years!!! Enjoy the new addiction my friend.

  27. 62
    Charlotte

    I go to this little coffee shop all the time. It is called Rev in Smyrna, GA. They actually roast their own coffee, and the decor very artistic. I know it is not on your scheduled stops but if anyone out there is going by, it is so worth a stop.

  28. 63
    carol

    When in Chicago, visit Ipsento. Only free trade coffee beans roasted themselves, they know how to do coffee. A tasting bar, too! Try the Ipsento, hot; a lively concoction of espresso, coconut milk, honey and cayenne.
    You won’t be disappointed.

  29. 64
    Amy Mc.

    If you visit coffee roasters in addition to coffee shops, check out Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company in Eastville, Virginia, on the DelMarVa Peninsula! Good products, literally a “Mom and Pop” business. I’ve been drinking their coffee for several years now; I order my custom mix by the five pound bag and their service is great!

  30. 66
    Brandon

    When you’re in Salt Lake in February, check out caffe d’bolla. The owners, the Piquettes, are amazing. John is a siphon coffee expert, published nationally, and he will rock your world with his coffee knowledge.

    • 67
      Brandon

      Do I need to hash tag anything for this to be seen? Cause seriously, if you don’t hit up this place while you’re in Salt Lake, you’re missing out.

  31. 69
    Maria N

    Woo hoo! And there’s hardly a “go figure” about Buffalo these days (I’m a transplant from outta town with no intention of leaving) – every culinary and artistic aspect of this city is on the rise, and I am so glad Public Espresso was able to represent even a little part of it to my fav culinary figure! Thanks for coming to our city, Alton Brown! Come back again soon!

  32. 71
    Frances

    If you get to Walnut Creek, CA (East Bay) try Pacific Bay on the corner of S. Main and Newell. The have wonderful coffees and teas. They roast their own beans and the staff is great.

  33. 74
    Michael

    #ABRoadEatsSAV
    Breakfast- coffee and savory ham and cheese tarts at Back in the Day Bakery on bull st
    Try Foxy Loxy or coffee fox for their mocha
    Lunch- starland cafe
    Dinner- green truck pub for the best burgers in town
    Late night- Zunzis 2- godfather sandwich

  34. 75
    Keely

    Super awesome that two great coffee shops from Wichita made the list! So glad you came and enjoyed our fair city and all it has to offer in terms of eats. 🙂

  35. 76
    Micah R.

    Good eats (not your iconic show) has for too long been divorced from good coffee. Thank you Alton for doing your (significant) part in rectifying this injustice.

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