We can typically spot that fantastic coffee shop from a mile away—its simply clever name, sleek decor, predictable location and talented baristas working magic at the speed of light. But in some unexpected places, or with an unexpected appearance, are some pretty amazing little coffee nooks dotted throughout the states. Beans are often roasted on site, and sourced in the purest way. Typically an assortment of local or artisan goodies are there to fill your tummy, and the decor is either quirky or understated. Not necessarily looked over, but not on the radar of many, these are the top unexpectedly awesome coffee shops in the United States.
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Drip Thru Coffee - Stockbridge, Georgia
Drip Thru Coffee resides humbly in a shopping center parking lot of Stockbridge, Georgia, on the outskirts of Atlanta. Inspired by the drive-up coffee shacks in the Northwest, Drip Thru is an unusual site in the south. The pint-size building is cleverly structured to suit both drivers and walk-up customers via two sliding windows. Sustainability is a refreshing key focus for the owners, who use compostable and reusable containers, locally roasted coffee from fair trade growers and non-chemical, Swiss decaffeinated coffee. They’ve also opened a new location in College Park.
Black Bear Coffee House - McKinley Park, Alaska
Before trudging out into Denali Park, folks like to snag a hearty breakfast of sourdough pancakes, incredible jam and buttery biscuits, and a creamy coffee shake! The precious cabin, Black Bear Coffee House, is an absolute treat after, or before, long journeys within the park. Even campers trek to Black Bear for their daily cup of locally roasted joe.
Daily Rise Coffee - Ogden, Utah
Daily Rise Coffee has three locations within the Ogden, Utah vicinity, and they are always looking for the next cool concoction. A hoppy or hibiscus flower cold brew, a white mocha with caramel macadamia nut, or your own dreamed up brew that any knowledgeable barista is ready to make for you—the options are unique and inventive. But the onsite roasted variation of beans are what makes the coffee, the root of each beverage, so special. Enjoy via drip or pour over for the full experience. Organic Papua New Guinea, Ethiopian Guji or organic Basin Blend used at Snow Basin Ski resort’s lodge are all incredible.
FINNS Barista Bar - Panama City Beach, Florida
FINNS Island Style Grub, featuring a simple, fresh Tropical menu, began in Panama City but has further branched out with the FINNS Barista Bar in Panama City Beach. Rich woods create the warmest ambiance, which is connected to a cool surf shop. Homemade granola, avocado toast and breakfast tacos compliment handcrafted coffees slightly flavored with house-made organic syrups. If you’re feeling frisky, give the kombucha on tap a whirl.
Omaha Bicycle Co. - Omaha, Nebraska
Wedged unpredictably in Omaha, Nebraska bike shop, Omaha Bicycle Co. is a pleasant little surprise when shopping for new wheels. Charming and sporty collide in the rustic wood establishment, and an impressive selection of coffees made from either Sweet Bloom or Hometown roasts allow cycle enthusiast to down some darn good coffee before hitting the road. If you’re at a business along their street, they’ll deliver that lavender smog espresso creation to your door, via bike of course. Baristas can even point out sweet routes for you after you’ve indulged in local pastries and drinks.
Pied Cow Coffeehouse - Portland, Oregon
Hookah lounges don’t make us think “great coffee”, but while Pied Cow Coffeehouse may have a garden dedicated to the recreational activity, they also know how to whip up a delicious coffee concoction in their Norma Bates-like Victorian house turned shop. Expect dim lighting, ornate chandeliers, a strange smell, and overall odd environment—all in a good way. Torn between advising you to go face-first into the fondue, or to direct your focus to the to-die-for marionberry pie, we can say all the desserts and diverse snack plates more than meet expectations.
44 North Coffee - Deer Isle, Maine
44 North Coffee sits on one of the more undiscovered parts of Maine, secluded Deer Isle. While the island seems quiet and dotted with few businesses, there’s more than a handful of nooks that serve excellent food and beverages. The community is very intertwined, with establishments incorporating other’s creations into their shop. 44 North Coffee is in a quaint little cottage outside of downtown Stonington, and they roast their single source coffee onsite. While the pour-over selections are more straight forward, they’re more than happy to make a version of your favorite Starbucks drink. Local pastries and bread are sold to enjoy with your brew.
Cuban Coffee Queen - Key West, Florida
Cuban Coffee Queen started with a guy who met a lady in Cuba, who made the best Cafe Con Leche, and buttered toast that is meant for dunking. This is a traditional Cuban breakfast. From that concept, one of Florida’s best coffee shops Cuban Coffee Queen was born. A simple walk-up counter serves up authentic Cuban coffees made with espresso, steamed milk, cane sugar, and sometimes chocolate and caramel. The compilation of tasty, meaty Cuban sandwiches or breakfast bagels are no fuss and the real deal. There’s a downtown location as well.
Sweetleaf at Modern Spaces - New York City, New York
Sweetleaf at Modern Spaces, in New York, might be in a more unexpected place than most—a real estate firm. Folks who work here don’t have to rush off course to the nearest Starbucks or settle for what’s left in the communal coffee pot, they don’t even have to leave the building for local New York City coffee. The profile of each bean is evaluated before it hits the shop, so even a simple cup of black coffee can contain a variation of notes, and a balance of rich oils. There are three Sweetleaf locations in New York.
Living Room - San Diego, California
Living Room in San Diego looks like, well, a living room. Popular with nearby college students, the cozy spot has become somewhat of a local staple, while still not being terribly mainstream. Along with smooth, gourmet coffee selections, big breakfasts and Mediterranean snacks, there’s also gluten-free pastries. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the WiFi is free. It’s definitely a hidden little gem in Cali.