Of course, Seattleites don’t need any ranking or list to tell us what we already know deep in our hearts. We are the best coffee city in the U.S., and probably in the world.

But humans are fascinated with lists, so it is no surprise that curious people endlessly create them and marketing companies use them.

This year, Seattle was ranked the best coffee city in the nation by Roasty Coffee, which used Google ad platforms to analyze search volume for “coffee,” “coffee shops near me,” and “coffee near me” over 12 months to determine which city’s residents searched most for these terms.

Rent.com came to the same conclusion by looking at the total number of coffee-related business establishments and determining which had the most local, nonchain, coffee businesses per square mile of land.

“The best city for coffee in America is no big surprise,” Rent.com said. “Coffee culture was born here back in the ’60s when the bohemian set started to seek shelter from the dreary wet weather in cozy coffeehouses. And, of course, Starbucks was born here 50 years ago.”

Seattle is also the birthplace of Tully’s, Seattle’s Best and numerous artisan roasters like Espresso Vivace, Caffe Vita and Lighthouse Roasters, among many others, the online rental company said.


Sadly, the metrics used by WalletHub, which include the average price of coffee and coffee spending per household, led the online credit company to declare Seattle third this year, behind Portland and San Francisco.

Overheard on Conference Calls, a self-described “destination for everything work,” looked at per capita coffee businesses and also put Seattle in third place, behind Boston and Washington, D.C.

Perhaps most insulting of all is the list by Lazy Trips, which does not even mention Seattle! Helsinki, London, Wellington, New Zealand, and Portland claim the top spots.

But why do we even care?

Nancy Goldov, a Seattle-based psychologist and public education coordinator of the Washington State Psychological Association, has spent some time thinking about this and other kinds of rivalries.

It is an identity thing, she said, and like rooting for sports teams, it’s a way that unrelated people can find a common reality and feel connected to something that is “exclusively ours.”

“Our glee with being crowned the best coffee city in the U.S. reinforces our heritage and affirms the role that Seattle has had in being the city of origin in the U.S. for creating community on a café scale,” she said. “And it feels good to identify with the status of a good-coffee-city as a collective success.”


For folks who take these kinds of things a little too seriously, she advises taking a step back and looking at the big picture realistically.

“If Seattle sometimes is not first in the country on the list of best coffee cities in America, I’d like to hope that Seattleites are able to still see the competition as a fun and entertaining contest, with the edge of rivalry, and share in the pleasure of enjoying coffee.”

And take heart, too, in knowing that no matter what the lists say, we know Seattle is still No. 1.

“Seattle is the only city that revolutionized coffee in this country,” said Goldov. “People here don’t identity with margaritas! Who, around the world, does not think of Seattle synonymously with coffee?”