When it comes to coffee, Washington is widely considered by many Americans to be the king of the hill. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s the birthplace of Starbucks, after all (as well as the subject of many an ironic eyeroll when discussing hipster culture). While most coffee comes from outside of the United States, the Pacific Northwest has put in a lot of work to cultivate its go-to image of frothy lattes sheltered beneath cloudy days.
It’s not the only state sharing the top spot, however.
What do you think of when you hear the words ‘drinks’ and ‘California’?
If you said ‘wine’, well, you’re certainly not wrong. It’s still one of the Golden State’s biggest industries, but coffee is fast becoming a prime contender. NPR released a study earlier this year showing California to be catching up with a vengeance to Washington in the coffee industry. The article sheds light on some interesting details, such as the state now having thirty farms devoted to growing coffee with another dozen on the way. While these farms don’t have age on their side, it’s only a matter of time. There’s also a projection that this figure will double in a few years.
What makes California’s unique roasts stand out from the pack? It’s not just novelty, with anecdotes from individual growers emphasizing the delicious variety of flavors brought to the table. What could be a sticking point for some is the price tag — Californian coffee is not quite large enough to start selling on the cheap — but, for some, that’s just part of the appeal. Specialty coffee sits nicely alongside expensive drinks and rare tea blends. Sometimes you need to dip into a can of Folger’s to get through the day. Other times you want to show off to a group of friends a high-quality brand you can’t get anywhere else.
I was born and raised in California. I’ve also lived in Washington for a decade plus. It’s interesting to see these two states go toe-to-toe in the battle for coffee reputation.