Our Nation Is Divided…by Coffee Shop Chains

Rachel Tepper Paley
March 19, 2014

All visualizations: Nathan Yau (Click here for larger version.)

In this caffeinated day and age, people get as passionate about their regional coffee shops as they do about their hometown sports teams. So prepare to get all rah-rah when you look at this visualization by Nathan Yau, the gent with the Ph.D. in statistics who runs the site FlowingData.

By mapping some of the most popular coffee chains in America, Yau provides visual evidence for some things we already knew (Starbucks is taking over the country) and things we definitely didn’t (Seattle’s Best appears to be way more popular in the Northeast than it is in Seattle).

Yau, who has made similar maps for pizza and grocery store chains, was caught off guard by huge gaps on the map; in some areas, it’s more than ten miles to the nearest coffee shop chain. This didn’t happen as often in Yau’s other visualizations.

"I’m not totally sure why this is," Yau wrote on FlowingData. "Maybe fancy coffee drinks aren’t as ubiquitous as I thought. Or maybe people get their coffee from mom-and-pop places. Or maybe people in these areas tend to drink coffee at home, and it’s not profitable enough for these chains to open shop? Are these areas more into soda and tea? The why needs more investigation.”

Yau raises good questions. But could it really be possible that some people don’t care too much about coffee? Our brains just blew a (stovetop espressomaking) gasket. 

[via Laughing Squid]