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"Single-origin" coffees are big right now. These are coffees made exclusively from the beans of a particular region or (better yet) a single co-op, farm or estate. Generally speaking, Central American coffee tends to be mild, classic and well-balanced. African coffee is bright, winey and fruity (berry & citrus flavors). Coffee from Indonesia is earthy, nutty and heavy. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for more tips.




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Intelligentsia Coffee
Several years ago, the venerable Chicago restaurant Charlie Trotter's began serving Intelligentsia coffee, and since then many of Chicago's hottest eateries have followed suit. The company now has a truly national following amongst "those in the know." Though most famous for its "Black Cat" espresso blend, Intelligentsia also offers a large selection of single-origin selections. Their pricier "Cup of Excellence" coffees are made from award-winning beans that have been internationally judged to be the year's best of the best.

Stumptown Coffee
This Portland, Oregon cafe and roasting company is another favorite with coffee connoisseurs. One to try: Guatemala Finca El Injerto Cup of Excellence. This coffee is made using beans that come from the Aguirre family farm, El Injerto in Guatemala. Beans grown on the Aguirre's farm consistently win first prize at the prestigious "Cup of Excellence" awards, which is held annually to recognize the best coffee bean crop in the country.

Counter Culture Coffee
Along with Stumptown and Ingelligentsia, this Durham, North Carolina company is another one of this country's top roasters.

Terrior Coffee
You won't find your usual Breakfast Blend in this coffee store. In fact, you won't find any blends at all. Like wine, coffee takes on distinctive properties from the soil and climate or terroir in which it's grown. For this reason, owner George Howell does not mix his beans. Instead, he offers only single-origin coffees sourced from small, independent farms, estates and co-ops, like the Daterra Farm in Cerrado, Brazil and Maria Santos' family farm in Cauca, Columbia. These farms produce some of the world's finest beans, some of which have won prestigious "Cup of Excellence" awards. Food & Wine calls George "the godfather of specialist coffee."






Metropolis Coffee

- Chicago, Illinois


Zoka Coffee

- Seattle, Washington


Barefoot Coffee Roasters

- Santa Clara, California


Gimme! Coffee

- Ithaca, New York


Doma Coffee

- Port Falls, Idaho


Paradise Roasters

- Ramsey, Minnesota


Ecco Caffe

- Sonoma, California





  • "Single-origin" coffees are big right now. These are coffees made exclusively from the beans of a particular region or (better yet) a single co-op, farm or estate. Generally speaking, Central American coffee tends to be mild, classic and well-balanced. African coffee is bright, winey and fruity (berry & citrus flavors). Coffee from Indonesia is earthy, nutty and heavy.

  • Medium to medium-to-light roasts are also preferred by coffee afficionados. Avoid the dark roasts (i.e. French or Italian roasts) -- this is basically just burnt coffee.

  • "Flavored" coffees are old news, so skip the vanilla hazelnut.

  • If you're going to spring for high-end coffee beans, don't drown out all those complex flavors with sugar and milk. Premium coffee is best appreciated "black."

  • Buy a coffee grinder and purchase your beans whole. They'll taste a whole lot fresher than the pre-ground stuff. The best grinders are known as "conical burr" grinders. These crush the coffee beans using a spinning wheel. "Wheel burr" grinders are also good, but they tend to be noisier. The most common and least expensive grinder is the "blade" grinder, which uses a spinning metal blade to grind the beans. These tend to leave you with an uneven grind.

  • If you use an auto-drip coffeemaker, throw away those paper filters -- the paper traps many of the coffee's flavorful oils. Instead, purchase a reusable gold filter.

  • Auto-drip coffeemakers are super-convenient, but brewing your coffee using a French Press (a glass container with a plunger) will give you superior taste.