Independent specialty coffee shops that celebrate the coffees or cultures of an individual coffee-growing country may not be a new phenomenon, but their numbers grew significantly in 2021.
Taking place throughout the American coffee landscape, the trend was most prevalent in the Western United States. New shops bucked the Scandanavian-style minimalist interior aesthetics and neo-Italian drink menus in favor of designs and drinks that better reflect the diversity and heritage of their owners, bringing a welcome dose of cultural authenticity and intimacy to the service of coffee.
Along with three pioneering shops celebrating the beans and brewing traditions of Vietnam — in Portland, Seattle and Denver, respectively — our 2021 roundup of 21 new coffee shops in the American West includes coffee houses focused on the flavors and traditions of the Philippines, China, Mexico and Costa Rica.
The year also saw some exercises in design maximalism, creative reuses of historic buildings and vehicles, a cafe inspired by a cartoon drawing, and much more.
Here are 21 of 2021’s biggest coffee shop openings in the American West (in roughly chronological order):
[Editor’s note: This feature is part of our ongoing 2021 year-end coverage. Click here for additional stories, updated daily through Dec. 31. You can also tell our editors about your new coffee shop or coffee roastery here.]
Though retail businesses in the COVID-19 era are facing an uphill battle, Steep Brewing & Coffee Company has the benefit of launching near the top. The craft brewery and coffee roaster opened its doors earlier this winter in Keystone, Colorado, among the peaks in one of the highest elevation areas in the United States.
The downtown shop is not particularly reflective of the “stately pleasure dome” as decreed by Kubla Khan in romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s vision of Xanadu; it’s more in the spirit of the 1980 roller disco musical fantasy movie starring Olivia Newton-John.
Opened last month, the coffee shop features a fluid-bed coffee roaster that kicks out Vietnamese robusta coffees for use in modern and traditional Vietnamese iced and hot coffee drinks served alongside banh mi sandwiches and sweet mochi treats.
Drawing upon inspiration on design and service from numerous other California coffee companies, Stoble Coffee Roasters has opened a multi-level coffee mecca in Chico. A four-year buildout on a four-level downtown building led to Stoble’s first brick-and-mortar cafe, its new roastery and production headquarters, and a forthcoming co-working facility.
A new coffee company called Portland Cà Phê opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in Portland, Oregon, this month, with a distinct focus on coffees from Vietnam.
With its second coffee shop now open on the banks of the Columbia River across from Portland in Vancouver, Washington, Kafiex Roasters has taken a more culinary direction while borrowing a term not often applied in the coffee industry.
Two years after relocating its headquarters into a three-story, 11,000-square-foot former bank building on a busy corner in Oakland, California, Red Bay Coffee Roasters this month celebrated the opening of a spacious and sun-filled retail coffee bar and kitchen that greets the public on the ground floor.
With San Francisco-based designer Ken Fulk on board yet again, Felix is presenting its hallmark opulence alongside the 132-year-old architectural details on the ground floor of the historic Hotel Jerome.
Coffee roaster, design and apparel company Hinterland Empire has brought a welcome dose of rogue “old Portland” vibes back to the current-day Rose City with the opening of its Montavilla neighborhood store.
The 100-year-old building that was originally used to gas up motor vehicles now provides a different kind of fuel to the humans passing through on four wheels, two wheels or by foot.
Coffee roaster and Q Grader Ana Valle’s childhood memories of her family sipping cafecitos in El Salvador have come full circle as her company, Abanico Coffee Roasters, has opened its first retail brick-and-mortar coffee shop in San Francisco’s Mission district.
Great coffee and a bit of fun. That’s what you get in the compact and colorful Colorado Springs, Colorado, location recently opened by Frankly Coffee, where baristas are ready to give it to you straight — or with milk.
After years of selling its own Costa Rica-grown, California-roasted beans online and at Southern California farmers markets, vertically integrated Moon Mountain Coffee has opened its first brick-and-mortar cafe in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach.
An array of colored triangular tiles back the wood-clad bar that anchors the shop and serves as a kind of art installation all its own against the adjoining white-walled gallery space. Like specialty coffee, the art on display within the new Blackwood spot is intended to be an accessible luxury.
It’s a long way from Scandinavia to the Yucatán, and yet inspiration from both regions can be found at a new shop in Phoenix, Arizona, called Kähvi Coffee + Cafe.
The van known as Sunny is now permanently parked inside the new 550-square-foot West Hollywood Farm Cup retail shop, where customers can order drinks with coffees that were roasted at their country of origin.
Dizon oversees a Coffee Crafters Artisan 3-E fluid-bed roaster that propels beans from green to brown, showcasing the quality of various Filipino coffees while recognizing the efforts of the people who produced them.
The first brick-and-mortar retail location of the canine-themed roasting company, which had been building up through animal-supportive popup events and farmers markets, is also the site of Fetch’s new roastery.
Matte Black Coffee captures the aesthetic of Southern California-based pop art illustrator Joshua Vides inside its first location, where walls, furniture and other surfaces engulf visitors like the pages of a graphic novel.
The new branding bursts with proud and playful Chinese cultural references, while Yang keeps at least one China-grown coffee available for sale at all times. A variety of distinctly Chinese ingredients are being incorporated into the inventive espresso drink menu at both Super Joy retail bars.
While new shops have been offering delightfully modern takes on Vietnamese coffee in coffee hubs like New York, Seattle and Portland, Vietnamese robusta has perhaps never been so dressed up in the United States as it is in Denver at the new Tí Cafe.