In the past few years, we’ve been hearing a lot about single-origin beans, sustainability and artisanal blends. Coffee-related buzzwords go hand-in-hand with the third wave of coffee. Cutting through the noise and finding the best roaster or a coffee shop can be intimidating. So we’ve compiled a list of the best players in today’s coffee business. Their innovative approach to the process and immaculate attention to detail is what leaves their mainstream competitors behind.
Today's microbreweries are chipping away from the market share of mainstream beer producers. So are niche coffee roasters that are quickly getting ahead of the coffee game.
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Let’s take a look at the top 10 coffee roasters and coffee shops in the country. From larger players like Blue Bottle and Camber to smaller neighborhood coffee cafes you haven’t even heard about, independently owned companies are legitimately producing some of the best java in the United States.
Compared to the Apple Store of the coffee roasters, this major third-wave coffee player focuses on single-origin beans. Their bean, called Oakland Lights, is a festive fruity and spicy blend of a wet-processed Sumatra and natural Ethiopian. The innovation behind Blue Bottle is simple. First, roast coffee in small batches and then sell it within 24 hours of roasting. Initially a home delivery service, Blue Bottle quickly opened a traditional cafe with a few satellite locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In September 2017 Nestle acquired Blue Bottle with an expected annual increase in sales by 70 percent.
The first bags of Camber’s sophisticated coffee were dropped in 2015 in Bellingham, WA. The bean, Honduras Migdoneo Enamorado, first undergoes a 72-hour long fermentation, then gets washed with fresh water and sun-dried for 35 days. Afterward, the result is a vibrant fusion of cinnamon, mandarin orange and honey flavors. Camber’s unique approach brings out the balance and sweetness unique to the specific coffee bean. Camber is still a very tiny roaster located in a shared space. Above all, their main focal point is to make every roast perfect and provide the best service possible to their wholesale customers.
Counter Culture is a certified organic, wholesale-only company that’s been in the coffee business since 2002. Their sustainable mentality helps address issues with food security and labor safety in the growing communities. Their yearly transparency report lists the purchase price paid farmers for their beans and proprietary coffee flavor matrix explains different tastes and notes found in their coffee. Counter Culture specializes in Iridescent, a rich winter blend that tastes like dark chocolate.
New York, NY
Everyman Espresso is a small chain of coffee shops in New York City. Passion for coffee and mixology manifests itself in handcrafted signature beverages that can’t be found anywhere else. Their signature Old Fashioned Espresso is prepared with cocktail making tools like shakers and is served in rimmed glasses with orange peel and ginger. Unlike many local coffee shops, Everyman Espresso does not have a menu posted. If you chat with the baristas before placing an order, they will suggest a drink that’s right for your current mood. Conversation between baristas and customers is always encouraged. Everyman Espresso’s staff is an encyclopedia of all things coffee and they are always eager to chat about their methods.
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Peregrine Espresso, the winner of America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition, is a brand new coffee shop with three locations in the D.C. Metro area. Essentially, the main focus is on procuring and preparing the best available single-origin beans, Peregrine Espresso strives to set a standard of quality coffee with friendly service. Additionally, their educational classes on espresso fundamentals and events promoting composting, recycling and reusing glass milk bottles are especially popular in their community.
Ipsento imports and roasts their beans in-house for freshness and immaculate taste. Ipsento carefully selects vendors from a community of suppliers who are just as dedicated to sustainability and high quality as they are. In addition to offering top-notch espresso beverages, Ipsento supports local community by offering classes on the history, process and recipes for a perfect cup of coffee.
Irving Farm offers an expansive seasonal rotation of single-origin coffees with unique flavor profiles alongside our roster of exceptional blends. The company puts heavy emphasis on sustainable relationships with farmers around the world. From humble beginnings, which started in a neighborhood cafe in Gramercy Park, it has quickly grown to 8 cafes, a roastery, coffee education for amateurs and seasoned coffee professionals, as well as a booming wholesale and retail business. Irving Farm prides itself on its single origin and blends, espresso, specialty conventional and organic beans, which come in a variety of strengths.
Stumptown has been elevating the coffee game since 1999. Its brand is bold and innovative as it brought Cold Brew, Sparkling Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew offerings to the market. The company proudly partners with growers from Ethiopia, Colombia, Indonesia and 10 other countries. For the Stumptown loyalist, their coffee bean subscription service delivers a different variety of coffee to mailboxes across the United States. With names like Hair Bender and Holler Mountain, their coffee is something that every aspiring enthusiast should slurp or sip sooner than later.
For 22 years, Intelligentsia has been hard at work building a brand that founders Doug Zell and Emily Mange could proudly hang their aprons on. Operating from 6 U.S. cities and around the globe, Intelligentsia and it’s team of dedicated buyers travel the world sourcing new grower opportunities and strengthening relationships with their existing farmers. Their single-origin boasts a variety of flavor profiles ranging from apple and honey to stone fruit and molasses. The brand proudly serves its products in Whole Foods and other retailers known for carrying premium products.
Nestled in the small village of Tarrytown NY, Coffee Labs roasters, 3-star certified green restaurant has carved out a name for themselves in the industry. The company isn’t shy about announcing that they were the first "third wave" coffee roaster in Westchester County, NY, and one of the first in the NY Metro area. Like any coffee shop/roaster worth their caffeine, the company has a variety of sources ranging from South America and Indonesia/Pacific Rim to Africa and The Middle East. Many coffee enthusiasts rest easy when they see the company logo (the owner’s chocolate lab, Denali) because a cup of unique coffee is not far away.