The US City With The Most Coffee Shops Per Capita Isn't What You Expect

For many cities, coffee is the unofficial mascot. We dare you to conjure an image of Seattle that doesn't include a rainy day and a steaming cuppa joe. Picture a red and orange October day in Boston without coffee or a brooding coffee-less walk in Portland. (It just doesn't feel right, does it?) The price of coffee saw a 14.8% increase from October 2021 to October 2022, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the hike doesn't seem to deter java drinkers much. Per WalletHub, the U.S. coffee market rakes in an estimated $48 billion every year. 

According to the National Coffee Association via Bankrate, 66% of U.S. consumers drink coffee every single day; that's a higher consumption rate than water. In 2012, The Washington Post reported that New Yorkers drink a whopping seven times as much coffee as folks in any other state. That might be why New York probably comes to mind when you think of coffee drinkers, and you'd be right to think so. Foodly reports that, as of May 2022, there were 3,389 coffee shops in the "city that never sleeps." Yet, NYC still isn't the biggest coffee hub in the country — and it isn't Seattle, Boston, or Portland, either. The U.S. city with the most coffee shops per capita probably isn't what you'd expect.

Sipping in San Francisco

It'd be tough to pin down an exact number for certain without personally visiting every single coffee shop in the country. In 2022, there are more than 73,000 coffee shops in the U.S., per Apartmentguide. The outlet conducted a nationwide coffee shop sweep to determine which city has the most. The answer? Believe it or not, San Francisco is packed with the most coffee shops per capita. "Frisco," reports the study, is home to the third most coffee shops in the country by volume and tops the list for per capita café density. The city packs roughly 40 coffee shops per square mile and 235 shops per 100,000 people. 

Although the Apartmentguide study names San Francisco the best per-capita café destination, it names two other destinations as the "best cities for coffee lovers overall." Perhaps more predictably, Seattle and New York City topped the list. Seattle has the fourth most coffee shops per person and per square mile. Bankrate also names Seattle the "best city to live in as a coffee lover," with San Francisco in second place. (San Fran coffee lovers, it says, shell out roughly $1,209 on coffee each year.) The reason why NYC didn't rank higher on the list? Population. New Yorkers (and the coffee fans therein) are so numerous that, in the statistics world, the per capita density of NYC coffee shops got diluted pretty quickly.