5 ways to find a good coffee shop in a new town

When you’re a coffee connoisseur, finding a good coffee shop is a top priority when you visit a new city. But when you’re new in town it can be difficult to find a good coffee shop. So how do you find a good coffee shop in a new town?

To the average Foldgers-chugging-consumer, they’d recommend stopping at the gas station for your caffeine fix or maybe asking your waiter. But there are two things wrong with those answers. First, gas station coffee? Do we need to say more? And secondly, asking any passerby can be risky.

Last time I was traveling I employed the latter tactic – it yielded a disappointing result. I asked my waiter what coffee shop she’d recommend. Her suggestion was about one step above gas station coffee (and funny enough it was next door to a gas station).

local coffee barista

Depending on your needs, you may need a coffee shop that has more than just good coffee. If you’re in town for business, you may need a place to work for a while. If that’s the case, you want to find a coffee shop that has a good vibe as well. You don’t want it to be too loud and you want to make sure they have good, ample amount of seating (and easy access to a power outlet). Bumping elbows with the college kid blaring music in his headphones is no way to work. And sitting within arms reach of the bathroom door isn’t ideal.

So to prevent you and the rest of the coffee connoisseur around from falling prey to bad coffee in a foreign town, I want to provide you with a few tips. Here are 5 ways to find a good coffee shop no matter where you are.

5 ways to find a good coffee shop in a new town

  1. Plan ahead

If you know you’re going to be in a town you’re unfamiliar with, then do a little research ahead of time. Ask your friends who’ve been to this town or part of the country before you leave.

  1.  Join a Facebook group

It’s important you gather your intelligence from the right source when seeking the best local coffee shop. Yes, you could look it up on Yelp. But depending upon the location and age of the coffee shop, it might not show up in your search results. A couple of years ago, I ran an online search for coffee shops in a little town I was staying in for vacation. Rather than providing a list of third wave coffee shops, it only provided a couple chain coffee businesses. One sold coffee related paraphernalia and the other was a fast food chain that also served coffee.

Thankfully today there’s a Facebook group for everything. Finding a good coffee shop can be as simple as posting the question to one of these groups (especially when you’re in the remote areas of the country). A couple of the Facebook groups worth joining for all things coffee is COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE! and World of Coffee.

local coffee shop
  1. There’s an app for that

Of course, there’s an app to help you find coffee. If you have an iPhone, download the IOS Coffee Shop Finder. And if you have an Android or Google device, download the My Coffee Card on Google Play.

  1. Use the Internet

This sounds like an obvious point. But if the previous methods don’t work, you can use Starbucks’ store location finder on their website. But if you’d prefer a local coffee shop, then you can use the Delocator search to help you find all the local coffee shops around you. All you have to do is type in whether you want coffee or tea and include the zip code you’re in.

A search in Ames, Iowa resulted in 4 possibilities other than Starbucks. And if you want to include Starbucks in your list of possibilities, it will mark all the Starbucks in the area with a brown circle.

local coffee shop in Ames Iowa

  1. Know who to ask

So what if you didn’t plan ahead, you’re not a fan of Facebook groups, and you can’t seem to find a cell phone signal? Well, then, you need to ask someone.

But who do you ask? Asking the wrong person could result in an, “I don’t know...I’m more of a tea drinker.” Or worse, they could lead you astray.

If you’re going to ask a local for a local coffee shop recommendation, then choose the person wisely. You’ll probably want to avoid the person sipping from the brightly colored oversized, plastic to-go tumbler that bears the name of the convenience store you just passed. But on the other hand, the trendy hipster who just served you lunch at the neat little repurposed cafe would be a perfect person to ask.

A general rule to follow: If they look like the type of person who would spend their afternoon in a coffee shop, then he or she is probably a good person to ask.


When you’re new in town, finding a good cup of coffee is easier said than done. In addition to the quality of the coffee, you may need a place with a suitable ambiance. We hope these 5 suggestions will help you the next time you’re in a new city and need a good cup of joe and a place to check some emails.


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