Discovering Espresso Perfection in Salt Lake City

I’m a little bit of a coffee purist; I’ve always believed that the true test of a coffee shop is its espresso. A perfect shot of espresso is a delicate balance of flavors—bitter, acid, and a touch of sweetness—all harmoniously blended in a small, potent package. The beans must be high-quality, the grind precise, and the extraction executed with skill and finesse. A thick, golden crema is the hallmark of freshness and a well-pulled shot. For me, any shop that suggests adding cream or sugar to their espresso tells me they may not be confident in their shot quality.

The coffee scene in Salt Lake City has been gaining national attention, and it’s not just the locals who are taking notice. The New York Times highlighted the city’s flourishing coffee culture, signaling that Salt Lake City is a destination for coffee enthusiasts. Here’s a look at some of the top spots for the best espresso that live up to the purist’s standards:

Espresso Salt Lake City
Photo by Greg Brinkman

La Barba: A Commitment to Quality 

La Barba is renowned for its commitment to quality, from sourcing beans from small-scale farmers to its meticulous roasting process. Its espresso is a testament to this dedication, offering a well-balanced, full-bodied shot with a smooth finish that’s sure to satisfy any espresso purist.

  • Draper—13811 Sprague Lane
  • Gateway—9 S Rio Grande
  • 9th South—155 E 900 S (Maven District) 

Blue Copper: Masterful Roasting

At Blue Copper, the art of coffee roasting is taken seriously, and it shows in their espresso. Each shot boasts rich, complex flavors with a subtle sweetness due to its careful bean selection and roasting technique. It’s an espresso experience in Salt Lake City that’s not to be missed.

  • Blue Copper Coffee Room—179 West 900 South
  • Blue Copper 2000—401 North 300 West
Espresso Salt Lake City
Photo by Greg Brinkman

Publik Coffee Roasters: Bold and Sustainable

Publik Coffee Roasters stands out for its bold espresso and commitment to sustainability. Their espresso has a robust body and smooth finish, reflecting their ethical sourcing and focus on quality. The industrial-chic ambiance of their cafes adds to the overall experience.

  • Downtown—975 S West Temple
  • Publik Kitchen—931 E 900 S
  • Publik Ed’s—210 S University St
  • Avenues—502 3rd Ave

Caffe D’bolla: A Journey of Flavors

Caffe D’bolla specializes in micro-lot coffees and siphon brewing, but its espresso is equally impressive. Each shot is an exploration of flavors, expertly crafted to highlight the unique characteristics of the beans. The cafe’s intimate setting enhances the personal and educational coffee experience.

  • 299 South Main, Suite 130 
Espresso Salt Lake City
Photo by Greg Brinkman

Cupla Coffee: A Personal Touch

Owned by twin sisters, Cupla Coffee brings a personal touch to their espresso. Their shots are smooth, well-balanced, and flavorful, a reflection of their commitment to quality and attention to detail. The warm, welcoming atmospheres in cafes across Salt Lake City makes it an ideal spot for a pure espresso break.

  • Salt Lake City—77 W 200 S
  • Park City—1476 Newpark Blvd
  • Cottonwood Heights—3412 Bengal Blvd

Three Pines Coffee: Minimalist and Precise

Three Pines Coffee embraces a minimalist approach, focusing on the simplicity and precision of its espresso shots. The result is a clean, bright, and invigorating espresso served in a sleek, modern setting that complements the purity of the coffee.

  • 165 S Main Street
Espresso Salt Lake City
Photo by Greg Brinkman

3 Cups: Contemporary and Smooth

3 Cups brings a contemporary touch to its espresso with smooth, balanced, and aesthetically pleasing espresso. The bright, open space of the cafe provides a perfect backdrop for enjoying an espresso that’s as much a work of art as a beverage.

  • Holladay—4670 S 2300 E
  • Woodbine Food Hall—545 W 700 S 

Salt Lake City’s espresso scene is a haven for coffee purists like myself. Each of these shops excels in delivering high-quality, well-crafted espresso that meets the highest standards. Whether you’re a local or a visitor inspired by the city’s growing coffee reputation, these cafes are essential stops for anyone who appreciates the art and science of a perfect shot of espresso. Did I miss your favorite?

Greg Brinkman
Greg Brinkman
Greg Brinkman is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. He has written for Salt Lake Magazine and Suitcase Foodist. He is a professional dabbler and is obsessed with all things food, travel, style and fitness.

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