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Alaska: More Coffee Shops Per Capita Than Anywhere In America

Expresso is a common drink throughout Alaska.
Train car in Eagle River, an Anchorage suburb, converted into an expresso stand. 

Frappaccinos, Americanos, Lattes... Skinny Lattes. You Want It, Alaska's Got It. 

Back in the "old days," when you talked about getting a cup of coffee in most of Alaska, you probably meant instant coffee, dipped with a spoon out of a jar and stirred into some warmish water, before being tempered with a dash of evaporated milk. That's what "coffee" often meant in Alaska roadhouses or lodges, even into the 1970's.

Then, somewhere along the way, Seattle exerted its influence on Alaska.  Seattle already had historic ties to the 49th state. The ships that came to the northland in the 1890's on the Alaska Gold Rush came from Seattle. In the 1930's and 1940's, Alaskan children from well-to-do families went "to the States" to go to school. And the state they were going to was often Washington State -- and the town of Seattle. 

Klondike Gold Rush Expresso Sign.
Espresso is as much a symbol of Alaska as the Klondike Gold Rush. 
In the 1980's and even into the 1990's, before Alaska became more modern and upscale, and major chain clothing stores were available, Alaskan women who had the means often traveled at least once a year to Seattle to go on fashion-buying trips. For decades, Alaska's football team has been the Seattle Seahawks

Expresso is common throughout the entire state.
Espresso stands are common throughout Alaska, including in Hope.

Before there were eye doctors, and cancer specialists in Alaska, many people had to go Outside -- to Seattle -- for specialized medical care. Today, when Copper River salmon come rushing into the Copper River, Seattle's fine restaurants are at the ready, waiting for the world's best fresh fish to be air lifted out to them so they can be served to  Seattle's elite.

In a strange way, Alaska has been a younger cousin of Seattle for at least a century. So it probably isn't surprising that Alaskans picked up Seattle's love of good coffee.

Seattle is the American home of espresso. There are 2.5 coffee shops per every 10,000 people in the Seattle area, serving up mochas, lattes, skinny lattes, and every other type of high-end, expensive custom coffee.

But when Alaska caught the coffee bug, Anchorage went even farther than Seattle. Anchorage is now the number 1 city in America for per capita espresso shops, with 2.8 shops per every 10,000 residents. And it's great coffee, too. That powdery instant coffee is long gone.

Although some stands in Alaska are indoors, many are outside, in small rolling coffee shacks, something like elaborate hot dog stands. They're everywhere in Anchorage.

But... Espresso Stands Are Not Just In Anchorage, But All Over The Rest Of Alaska's Road Systems, Too!

Espresso stands are located all over the rest of the road system, too. You can drive for miles on an isolated highway, and suddenly come across a tiny coffee stand with a bright neon sign blazing the words  "Open" into the night -- and a full range of every possible type of coffee choice you left at home.

There are very few things in rural Alaska that are like this. For example, you'd be hard pressed, anywhere in rural Alaska, to find a brand new pair of boxer shorts. Or a box of plain white envelopes. Or a reading lamp. But you can find freshly ground, hot espresso. And lots of it.

Another Alaska Railroad caboose, turned into an espresso
stand at Gold Hill Gas Station, on the Parks Highway
as you approach Fairbanks. 

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