Where to find the best brew for the buck in the US

Americans really do love coffee! In fact, an October 2021 global consumer survey from Statista, Coffee is America’s Favorite Drink, finds that coffee was named by more adults in the United States as a regularly consumed beverage than bottled water. Furthermore, according to the National Coffee Association’s National Drinking Trends Fall 2021 Report, Americans drink more than 650 million cups of coffee per day.

So, it’s no wonder realtors might want to highlight the best and worst cities in the US for coffee drinkers. Hence, in its Best Coffee Cities in America 2022 report, Clever Real Estate analysed publicly available data from the US Census, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Numbeo, Google Trends, National Coffee Association, and Database USA to rank the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States from the best to the worst cities for coffee.

The weighted rankings evaluated various criteria such as:

  • 3x: The average price of a cappuccino in each city.
  • 2x: The average number of coffee shops per capita in each metro.
  • 1x: The number of coffee shops per square mile in each metro.
  • 1x: What percentage of their income locals are willing to spend on a daily weekday cup.
  • 1x: The Google search trends for coffee-related terms in each metro.

The real estate firm’s rankings consider two measures of affordability: metros with an affordable cost of living encourage residents to open shops and try new ideas with lower risk; while higher-than-average prices for a cup of coffee reflect just how much residents value a quality cup.

The report reveals that the 15 best coffee cities have an average of 18 coffee shops per 100,000 people — five more than the national average of 13. According to the report, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – quite surprisingly – is the coffee capital of the US. The average cappuccino costs only USD $3.56 in Milwaukee, where residents spend 1.5% of their annual income on their weekday cup.

Conversely, the worst city in America for coffee, according to the report, is Virginia Beach, Virginia with just eight coffee shops per 100,000 residents and only 33% as many Google searches for coffee over the last year compared to the most passionate metros. A daily cappuccino costs Virginia Beach residents $5.39. Portland, Oregon has the most coffee shops per capita averaging 27 per 100,000 people.

Overall, the report finds that the best regions for coffee drinkers are the North and West as six of the top 15 cities for coffee (40%) are on the West Coast, while 10 (67%) are located North and Northeast. The top 20 Cities in America for coffee per Clever’s findings are:

  1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  2. Portland, Oregon
  3. San Francisco, California
  4. Buffalo, New York
  5. Providence, Rhode Island
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Seattle, Washington
  10. Hartford, Connecticut
  11. Riverside, Calif.
  12. San Diego, Calif.
  13. Philadelphia, Penn.
  14. San Jose, Calif.
  15. Indianapolis, Indiana
  16. Chicago, Illinois
  17. New York, NY
  18. Columbus, Ohio
  19. Los Angeles, Calif.
  20. Cleveland, Ohio

It is quite curious that Milwaukee and Buffalo rank in the top four for best cities and Ohio boasts three cities on the list, while Seattle, although within the top ten cities, is not higher on the list. And even coffee-loving New Orleans, Louisiana – which reportedly created the concept of the ‘coffee break’ – does not fall within the top 20 cities on the list.

Of course, for every ‘best’ there’s a ‘worst’, and the ten worst coffee cities in the US – that is, distinctively less inviting to café-goers – as noted in the report, are:

  1. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  2. Memphis, Tennessee
  3. Louisville, Kentucky
  4. Birmingham, Alabama
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. Richmond, Virginia
  7. Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Nashville, Tennessee
  9. Jacksonville, Florida
  10. St. Louis, Missouri

Per Clever, these metro areas offer an average of only ten coffee shops per 100,000 people – 44% less than the top 15 cities. Additionally, these cities have much higher cappuccino prices as a percent of annual income, averaging 2.29% compared with 1.60% for the top 15 cities. Virginia may be ‘for lovers’ as the state slogan used to say, but apparently it’s not for ‘coffee lovers’ as two of its cities fall on the worst list!

So, for those coffeehouse loyalists, the report might be worth a glance before considering a move to a new city…The full report can be viewed here.

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