12 Most Enthusiast-Friendly Coffee Roasters in the US
To most people, coffee is a commodity. It’s just something to wake us up in the morning and for some of us, to keep us going throughout the day. Whether we are just regular Joes and brew Maxwell House at home (for the sake of my sanity, I will pretend instant coffee doesn’t exist) or we are hipsters and prefer to swing by our local Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, the only perk of drinking coffee for us is the perk itself. It’s all about the caffeine and mental stimulation that comes along with it.
But there is a class of people out there that look for something more from the age-old bean. To true coffee enthusiasts, the brew is a culinary elixir laden with body, flavor, and aroma that go unnoticed to the average person. These are the people who pronounce “Espresso” with no “x.” These are the people who know that coffee doesn’t come from a can. These are the true aficionados of culinary coffee. In a world of mass market caffeination, is there anything for these folks beyond their local Starbucks? You have no idea!
Scattered across the US is a plethora of independent micro-roasteries that specialize in producing gourmet coffee–real gourmet coffee, not the kind that’s advertised at the supermarket. To these culinary enthusiasts, coffee is an art. Haven’t heard of anything better than Starbucks? Be prepared for a world of opportunity. Taste buds, welcome to coffee heaven!
1. Intelligentsia Coffee
Headquartered in Chicago, Intelligentsia Coffee is quite possibly America’s most prestigious independent coffee roaster. Famous for its Black Cat Espresso, Intelligentsia has had the most substantial presence in the US Barista Championship. Recently, Intelligentsia released an application for the iPhone that enables users to see current selections, learn about culinary coffee, and even time themselves for different brewing processes. Intelligentsia has several coffee houses in Chicago, as well as a second roastery in Los Angeles with a few coffee houses there as well.
2. Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee, headquartered in North Carolina, is probably the most education-centric coffee roaster in the US. It offers training programs on coffee roasting, brewing, sustainability, and so on. It has training programs available in North Carolina as well as Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Counter Culture is most famous for its No. 46 coffee, a blend of Latin American and Indonesian coffees.
3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is highly regarded as the company that started the trend toward culinary coffee in Portland, where it is headquartered. Now, along with a vast array of independent coffee roasters, Portland is home to the American Barista and Coffee School, the most prestigious institution for coffee professionals. Stumptown’s most popular coffee is its Hairbender Blend, a fully-washed espresso roast that includes up to eight coffees at any given time.
4. Klatch Roasting
Headquartered in Upland, California, Klatch Roasting is one of the most highly-regarded micro-roasters in the west. Also a frequent participant in US Barista competitions, Klatch won the Micro Roaster of the Year award from Roast Magazine in 2009. Its coffees are diverse and frequently featured on popular coffee-tasting site, Coffee Review.
5. Ozo Coffee
Ozo Coffee is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. Its most popular blends are 1) Mocha Java, a blend of Ethiopia Sidamo, Tanzania, and Sumatra, and 2) Ozo Blend, a blend of Sumatra, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
6. Staufs Coffee Roasters
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Staufs roasts coffees from all over the world. Its most popular blend is Baba Budan, a full-bodied blend named after the Indian monk who is thought to have first smuggled coffee out of Ethiopia. To me, the guy is a hero!
7. Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company
Yes, we all know Starbucks is headquartered in Seattle and, while it would be worth your while to stop by and check out the headquarters, you might also want to grab a latte from Zoka Coffee while you’re in town. Even in a city known for its coffee, Zoka shines as a culinary roaster. Its most famous coffee is Espresso Paladino, a sweet, honeyed espresso roast.
8. Ritual Coffee Roasters
Ritual Coffee Roasters, headquartered in San Francisco, is highly involved in the development of its suppliers. It features a new blend each month, Sweet Tooth, highlighting the specific farm that the blend was derived from.
9. Barefoot Coffee Roasters
Headquartered in San Jose, Barefoot Coffee is one of the most sought-after roasters in California. Barefoot Coffee does only direct trade with farmers and its founder travels personally from farm to farm to select the beans.
10. The Roasterie
Also a frequently featured coffee company on Coffee Review, The Roasterie is headquartered in Kansas City. It has its own unique way of roasting called “air-roasting” and its most popular coffees are Bean Barron Blend, Cafe Trio Blend, and 40 Sardines Blend.
11. Paradise Roasters
Paradise Roasters, headquartered in Minnesota, prides itself on being the roaster with the most 94-point (out of 100) coffees of any other roaster on Coffee Review. Its most highly-rated coffee is Espresso Nuevo and it probably has the most well-regarded Hawaiian coffees in the mainland US.
12. Terroir Coffee
Terroir Coffee is a highly regarded roaster headquartered in Acton, Massachusetts. Its most popular coffees include Alchemy Espresso and Continental Blend.
All of these coffee roasters make their coffee available to purchase via the web. There is no excuse for you, if you love coffee, to not give them a try. So, buy yourself a French Press and a grinder, place your order on one of these sites, and start drinking coffee like a pro!
See any great roaster that I missed? There are literally hundreds of fantastic, independent coffee roasters in the US alone. What shout-outs do you have?
Featured image courtesy of Puuikibeach licensed via creative commons.