Countless cups of coffee, twelve months of research, from coast to coast—for Food & Wine’s second annual survey, we pulled out all the stops, and we couldn’t be more excited to share our findings
The big, beautiful moment came from nowhere, on the worst possible day—a brittle, featureless January afternoon in one of those Southern cities you do not typically rush toward when looking to uncover trends. The morning had been filled with disappointment, and coffee that tasted like sadness, and I wasn’t the least bit optimistic, arriving at my final stop. But there was this brand new coffee bar that I apparently just hadto see, and so I went, expecting nothing. The town was already full of coffee shops, and they were all pretty bad—new, old, didn’t matter. Should this one be any different?
Well, it was. Inside, under the kind of careful lighting that makes everybody look better, behind the kind of bar you just want to run your fingers over, until somebody shouts at you to stop being weird, there was this group of very friendly people, studiously attentive to their work, turning out perfect cortados and lattes and the like, to the quiet delight of a standing room-only crowd. After a year of intense travel, from Florida to the Midwest to small towns in Texas, throughout the Pacific Northwest and dozens of states in between, there had been so many satisfying moments of discovery, but here? Really? I felt as if I’d finally turned over the final stone in America, only to find a perfect little coffee shop, the sort that could fit in beautifully, in places you might actually have heard of. For the first time that day, I couldn’t help but smile, and it hit me. You know what? This whole coffee business?We might really be nailing this.