How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

Justin Goldstein • October 30, 2020 • 3 min read

How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

How To Go About Finding the Best Coffee on Any Getaway

Are you stoked for your next big trip or weekend getaway? If you’re like me, one of the most exciting things about traveling is experiencing new coffee shops. When going to any city, especially if you’re limited on time, you’ll have some tough choices to make. Over the years, I have made plenty of mistakes, often leaving cities feeling like I missed out on the best coffee shops they had to offer. Through trial and error, here is my top advice on how to quickly find the best coffee shops to make your trip anything but a (caffeine) buzz kill!

Finding the Best Coffee: The Internet is Your Friend

How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

This might seem like a no-brainer, but a great way to quickly point you in the right direction is through a simple online search. While generic searches like “best coffee in Los Angeles” are a decent starting point, searching for coffee city guides will often deliver great results from sites like Sprudge, which offer awesome local recommendations that I’ve found to be spot on.

Common review sites like Yelp are also helpful in understanding the best coffee options nearest to you. Not only do I look at ratings and read reviews (both good and bad), but I really focus a lot of my time looking at the user posted pictures. Doing this will usually not only show you the vibes of the shop but also how serious they take their coffee. If you see beautiful latte art and hand pour overs, you are probably looking at a shop that is going to be rather meticulous about everything they do.

Pro tip – look at their coffee equipment and espresso machine. A serious specialty coffee shop will rarely cut corners when it comes to its equipment. If you see a super-premium espresso machine like a La Marzocco, you’re likely in good hands. While it is possible you can have a great coffee from a shop without the fancy equipment, when I have choices, it’s really not a chance I’m willing to take.

Finding the Best Coffee: Look at the Menu Beforehand

How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

Once you know the names of a few spots you’re interested in, go online and check out their menus to narrow it down. If they make 24 oz. lattes with artificial syrups, it’s probably not going to be a real specialty coffee experience. If they have a core menu with the signature drinks you would expect like cappuccinos, cortados, flat whites and long blacks then you’re headed in the right direction. If they have a specific batch brew and various single origin coffees to choose from, you should be putting that shop on the top of your list. With any specialty coffee shop experience, you should also expect to see prices that mirror the quality and attention to detail throughout the process. Pay the extra buck, it’s (usually) well worth it.

Finding the Best Coffee: Go Off the Beaten Path

How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

I’ve found some of the most spectacular coffee shop experiences come from the least expected places. In many cases, it’s not the shops on the main street, but those right around the corner that have something to prove. It’s these oddball shops owned and operated by true coffee lovers who might not have the big time investors but just a genuine passion for making coffee that have really impressed me over the years. All I’m saying here is, give the little guys a shot, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Finding the Best Coffee: Trust Your Barista

How to Find the Best Specialty Coffee Shop in Town

If you’ve followed all the steps above and finally decided on a shop, try to keep an open mind when it comes to what you order. I have found some of the most amazing experiences come from trusting baristas to do what they do best, make you an outstanding coffee that will be something to remember. If you’re a creature of habit and want to stick to your tried and true iced coffee, brew coffee or pour over coffee drink, that is okay but if you’re on vacation, it can be fun to get a little crazy with your coffee. You might not remember that batch brew you would usually order, but that single origin anaerobic Costa Rican might be ingrained in your memory for the rest of your life. Take a leap of faith, ask the barista what they would recommend, and enjoy!

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