Taste Test: Coffee
best boutique roasters
stumptown coffee roastersOwner Duane Sorenson travels the world to bring amazing beans back to Portland, Oregon. Our favorites: Guatemala Finca el Injerto and Kenya AA Thegeini (503-230-7702 or stumptowncoffee.com).
terroir coffee companyOwner George Howell, who was sourcing top beans as early as 1975, is the godfather of specialist coffee. Our favorites: Brazil Daterra Farm Special Reserve and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (866-444-5282 or terroircoffee.com).
counter cultureDurham, North Carolina, purveyors of great single-estate coffees. Our favorites: Kenya AA Ngunguru and Honduras Marcala El Puente (919-361-5282 or counterculturecoffee.com).
barefootA Silicon Valley venue that features lively open-mike music nights. Our favorites: Guatemala Vista Hermosa and Costa Rica Monte Crisol (408-248-4500 or barefootcoffeeroasters.com).
intelligentsiaA Chicago favorite for its single-grower "micro-lots." Our favorites: Guatemala El Cuervo and Honduras La Tortuga (773-348-8058 or intelligentsiacoffee.com).
ecco caffèAndrew Barnett founded Ecco in California's Sonoma wine country in 2000 and serves coffee that has won several industry Cup of Excellence awards. Our favorites: Organic Nicaragua from Teofilo Cesar Torrez, Mario Torrez Coop Luis Alberto Vasquez and Organic-Fair Trade Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia (707-525-9309 or eccocaffe.com).
iron brewThis South Carolina-based roaster brings its beans in directly from the highland Cerrado region in South America and never blends them with other coffees. Our favorites: House Roast and Carolina Classic Roast (888-448-1441 or ironbrewcoffee.com).
paradise roastersHusband-and-wife team Bob and Deb Meza started Paradise in 2002 with their son R. Miguel as the company's roastmaster and green coffee buyer. They roast to order and ship the same day. Our favorite: Fruity and earthy Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Natural from Idido Misty Valley (877-229-6336 or paradiseroasters.com).
zoka coffee roaster and tea companyThis small-batch Seattle-based roaster also has two local cafes and award-winning baristas. Our favorite coffees: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Organic Sumatra (206-217-5519 or zokacoffee.com).
volcanicaA year and a half-old speciality roaster based in Coral Springs, Florida, Volcanica sells only single-origin, high-altitude coffee beans grown on volcanic soil around the world. Our favorite: Gran Reserve Kona Coffee from the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii (877-454-7031 or volcanicacoffee.com).
victrola coffee roastersOwners Chris Sharp and Jen Strongin have been roasting heirloom coffee varieties out of their Seattle shop since 2003. Our favorites: Organic and Fair Trade Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with earthy and sweet notes and Organic Sumatra Gayo with smoky and fruity aromas and tart and tangy flavors (206-325-6080 or victrolacoffee.com).
doma coffee roasting companyThis passionately eco-conscious roaster (they are a certified organic roaster, use biodegradable bags, and compost or recycle their coffee bags) based in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, is known for its lighter Northern Italian-style roasts. Our favorites: Ethiopia Harar Organic and Bella Luna Decaf (208-773-0066 or domacoffee.com).
best big roasters
Our hands-down favorite was Starbucks. The bags we bought at a supermarket were impeccably fresh; we particularly liked the rich Gold Coast Blend ($11 per lb; starbucks.com). Our runner-up: Swedish mail-order company Gevalia, especially for its tangy, bright Select Varietal Kenya ($6.75 for 8 oz; gevalia.com).
Want to see more winners?
Discover top grinders and more in An Obsessive's Guide to Coffee.