Ever since Starbucks democratized caffeine in 1971, a strong coffee culture has been brewing in America — and around the world, for that matter. According to a Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults today drink coffee, and each averages 2.7 cups of joe per day. Some estimates even place Americans in the lead of global coffee consumption, at 146 billions cups per year, earning us the status as the most caffeinated humans on the planet.

But some local coffee scenes are stronger than others. To determine the best among them, WalletHub’s data crunchers compared the 100 largest cities across 14 key indicators of coffee lover-friendliness. Our data set ranges from coffee shops, coffee houses and cafés per capita to average price per pack of coffee.

Denver came in #8 on the list! WalletHub also interviewed Kerry Plemmons, professor of the practice at Daniels (and a former Starbucks executive). Transcript provided below:

Kerry Plemmons
What tips do you have for a person that wishes to enjoy his/hers daily “java” cup while on a budget?

There are some truly great coffee making machines on the market that combined with quality coffee make excellent at-home or at-office coffee. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, used to always grind a bit of fresh coffee and make a cup from a French press at his home prior to heading to his Starbucks. There are also excellent and reasonably priced espresso machines that just require a bit of training.

Why are some folks willing to spend two or three times more for a comparable cup of coffee?

I would change the wording to special cup of coffee. There is great research in behavioral economics that suggests we expect special service or special quality if we pay the extra. The human mind wants to believe their cup of coffee is worth the price and great baristas ensure that value. Starbucks and great local shops must create a holistic value delivery system with every cup.

In the current economic environment is opening a coffee shop as a first business for young entrepreneurs still a good idea? Or are most markets already oversaturated?

The simple answer is yes — when extraordinary value is created in a location that feels good to the segment in need. Most coffee shops just try to copy Starbucks and they will always fail. Check out a coffee shop called Steam on Pearl Street in Denver and you will find two Lebanese brothers who worked for Starbucks, and then built a neighborhood shop that people line up to get into every day.

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