7. Austin, TX
For a city where drinking hot coffee in the afternoon is a ludicrous idea four months out of the year, Austin's scene is booming. For a while, the city's college-slacker mentality meant shops were traditionally places to keep it weird with bottomless cups to fuel students, conspiracy theorists, and hungover musicians. Today, however, the city's coffee landscape is much more sophisticated.
Austin doesn't have the history of some other cities, but it makes this list because of the wellspring of newly opened shops that could hold their own against the best of Seattle or Portland. In 2014 alone, a half-dozen multi-roaster cafes opened, which still isn't nearly enough to feed the city's thirsty hordes of remote workers. Many of the new breed of shops still fly the slacker flag with seats full of musicians and DJs (Figure 8), but they've now elevated their espresso game with carefully curated beans from buzzed-about roasters like Four Barrel and Coava.
On the other hand, a shop like Patika mixes a Design*Sponge-worthy interior with a selection of Austin's best roasters, and the cafe outpost of roaster Cuvée brings the "no Wi-Fi" trend to Texas, while also pioneering nitro cold brew (the first in the nation). And both Thunderbird and Jo's walk the tough balance between high-volume shops and serious coffee programs.
Other roasters like Wild Gift and Tweed (which has footing in Dallas) are garnering national acclaim, while legacy roasters like Casa Brasil bring more specific regional offerings to the table. And the rabid nature of the scene is nowhere more apparent than at Thursday Night Throwdowns, where more than 100 coffee pros are known to gather to gawk at each other's latte art.
Major players: Cuvée Coffee, Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors, Patika, Wild Gift, Houndstooth