Coffee has come a long way, baby. That Yuban and Folgers gave way to Starbucks and eventually a “third wave” of artisan roasters that treated the humble bean in much the same way winemakers regard their grapes. Now, that obsession has moved beyond a few pockets of coffeephiles Seattle or San Francisco to craft roasters all across the country, who source beans directly from farmers in Africa and the Americas then roast them in a way that best expresses their terroir. We’ve collected six of our favorite roasters in the U.S. that will keep you warm this winter and serve as the perfect non-alcoholic nightcap to any holiday gatherings.
Kahawa 1893; San Francisco
Margaret Nyamumbo was born into a family of coffee farmers in Kenya. Eventually, she headed to the States, graduated from Harvard Business School and went into finance. But she couldn’t stay away from coffee. She founded Kahawa 1893 to import beans directly from Kenya, giving a more equitable share to the people who grow them, especially women in the industry. If you really like the coffee, there’s a QR code that comes with it so you can send a tip directly to the farmer’s e-wallet.
OUR PICK: Kenyan Peaberry, tasting of blackberry, citrus and honey
Onyx Coffee Lab; Rogers, Ark.
Northwest Arkansas has become a magnet for coffee excellence. The winners of the 2020 US Coffee Championships in the barista and brewer competitions both work at Onyx: Andrea Allen and Elika Liftee, respectively. The company is just as meticulous in its sourcing and roasting (its roaster won the US championship in 2017, too) as it is in making an actual cup. Founded in 2012 by Andrea and Jon Allen, Onyx has taken the coffee world by storm with both experimental and straightforward offerings.
OUR PICK: Geometry, for its berry, lemon and Earl Grey notes
When Michelin three-star Eleven Madison Park needed a coffee befitting its world-class service, it ventured across the East River to a roaster devoted to freshness. Devoción claims that half the flavor in your cup of Joe is down to how fresh the beans are, so it sources its directly from farmers in Colombia, processes them in Bogotá and then transports them to the roastery in Brooklyn in as little as 10 days to ensure the subtle nuances shine.
OUR PICK: El Sol, with its peach, caramel and cinnamon flavors
Camber Coffee; Bellingham, Wash.
Coffee culture has so permeated the Pacific Northwest that you don’t have to look just to Seattle to find exceptional beans. About 90 miles north is Bellingham, where Camber founders Andrew Bowman, Todd Elliott and David Yake met at a different coffee company. The trio’s venture took off in 2015, finding its way into top restaurants, such as Canlis and the Willows Inn. Camber brings out the sweetness and complexity of its beans, while avoiding being too light or acidic.
OUR PICK: Big Joy Espresso, sweet with notes of raspberry and chocolate
Sightglass Coffee; San Francisco
Sibling duo Jerad and Justin Morrison started making coffee together in San Francisco more than a decade ago, and they’ve come a long way from a creaky coffee cart serving their neighborhood. They have since spread to locations across the city and down the coast with a new venue in LA. Their coffee is not overly roasted, allowing for the tasting notes of their blends and single-origin beans to really come through with expertly balanced acidity.
OUR PICK: Blueboon, with hints of milk chocolate, mandarin and honeysuckle
Goodboybob; Santa Monica, Calif.
While sourcing excellent beans globally, the coffee nerds at Goodboybob—named after the founder’s Havanese dog, Bob—are always on the lookout for a rare allocation of exceptional beans for true connoisseurs. For instance, Goodboybob recently secured the winner of the first Ethiopia Cup of Excellence, roasted it Stateside and offered it at $110 for six ounces. You can also purchase a Rare Subscription, so you get an offering like this each month.
OUR PICK: Ethiopia, with its notes of raspberry jam, milk chocolate and marzipan