Monthly Archives: May 2015

Map: How coffee splits the United States in half

By Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham


Coffee, the straightforward combination of ground coffee beans and piping hot water, increasingly can be a complicated thing. Niche coffee shops today — the sort that have spread through extra cool parts of San Francisco and Brooklyn — have popularized unusual approaches to the craft, from the selecting of the beans to the roasting, packaging, seeping, brewing and serving of a cup.

Coffee, in other words, can be fancy.

But while all the attention may be on the frontiers of coffee — like Blue Bottle Coffee Co., which raised $26 million in funding to expand its single-drip brews last year — we need a reality check. Fancy, artisan coffee is the sort of “national trend” that’s actually only happening in the likes of Brooklyn.

What America really drinks, when it drinks coffee, is basic. And it’s made by two mammoth coffee chains. On the whole, our coffee preferences split the U.S. in half: Starbucks Country and Dunkin’ Donuts Land. Using public store location datasets, we’ve mapped that divide below.

Notice that Dunkin’ Donuts shops vastly outnumber Starbucks in the Northeast. This is of little surprise, since the chain was founded there. They also, however, have a significant footprint in the Carolinas, Florida and Chicago. This doesn’t, to be clear, mean that there aren’t any Starbucks in these areas, just that they’re outnumbered by Dunkin.’

But Starbucks is the dominant coffee retailer literally everywhere else, from Hawaii all the way east to D.C. Overall, there are about 12,000 Starbucks locations and 7,500 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in the U.S. In fact, 80 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of a Starbucks. What’s surprising here isn’t necessarily Starbucks’ ubiquity — that’s been a subject of discussion for years now — but rather Dunkin’s total dominance in certain …read more