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The 5 Best Cities to Open a Coffee Shop in the US

Author: Daniel Jackson

Coffee is a big industry in the United States; Americans lead the world's total coffee consumption at 146 billion cups per year. With the average price of a cup of coffee in the U.S. at $1.38 and U.S. imports of coffee at $4 billion per year, there are many opportunities for business owners to profit from America's love for caffeine. A 2015 Zagat survey revealed that 22% of American buy their coffee at small and independent chains. The U.S. imports and consumes about half as much coffee as the entire European Union. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that the U.S. will consume 23.7 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee in 2015.

Some U.S. cities are renowned for their coffee shops, including Seattle and New York City. These cities are also highly competitive, with high rents and high tax environments that may not be conducive to opening a new coffee shop.

Of the segments within the restaurant industry, coffeehouses are the fastest growing. A Gallup poll revealed that the Midwest drinks more coffee than the rest of the country at 3.3 cups per day. This figure is considerably more than the West's consumption of 2.2 cups per day.

The most attractive U.S. locations for new coffee shops have large coffee-drinking populations, average income to support the at times expensive habit and developed coffee cultures open to new coffee startups. Though some cities in the U.S. may be receptive to the introduction of large chains, such as Starbucks, the ideal location for a new coffee shop would be one where residents are more interested in small coffee shops.

1) Denver, Colorado

Quality combines with consumption in Denver, home to the top roaster of 2014, the Coda Coffee Company. Denver coffee companies have also attracted larger U.S. producers as seen in the planned purchase of Black Rock Beverage Services, a Denver-based coffee roaster, by Marley Coffee. Denver ranks as the fourth-highest U.S. city for coffee consumption.

2) Portland, Oregon

Portland is home to 28 coffee shops per 100,000 city residents, and the average person spends $33 per month on coffee. In October 2015, the city hosted several coffee-centric events, including Coffee Fest, Barista Nation and Caffeine Crawl. Portland is responsible for producing coffee company Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which has begun exporting its product to Asian coffee shops.

3) Boston, Massachusetts

Coffee consumption in Boston is prolific. The Boston Medical Center estimates that 15% of toddlers in Boston are drinking coffee along with their parents. In comparison to other large metropolitan areas in the U.S., Boston spends more on average on coffee than any other city, including Seattle, with coffee expenditures 17% higher than national averages.

4) San Francisco, California

Coffee culture in San Francisco favors small startups and independent shops over large chains, and caffeine lovers are known to stand in exhaustively long lines to obtain carefully crafted cups. The city is host to the fourth-highest concentration of independent shops in the country. San Francisco-based company Blue Bottle Coffee raised $26 million in 2014 to expand single-drip brews to please local preferences. That's a sizable figure for a chain that has 18 locations.

5) Providence, Rhode Island

Providence hosted the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Coffee Conference, a two-day event for specialty coffee roasters. Providence and its nearby towns have over 50 independent coffee shops, and the area has the highest concentration of coffee shops and doughnut shops per capita in the country. Coffee culture in Providence owes its proclivity to a number of colleges in the area and Rhode Island's affinity for the beverage.

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