In our industry, delivering quality coffee in every cup is a must if you want to be successful. So, we asked some coffee shops and roasters:
What’s quality coffee to you? How do you find quality coffee beans?
* Image on the cover and above by Blue Bottle Coffee.
Layla & Blue Bottle (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, & Tokyo)
Our founder, James Freeman, started Blue Bottle Coffee with a seemingly simple mission: “I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest organic, and pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.”
James built Blue Bottle around these tenets, sending buyers around the world to find the best and most unique coffees.
Images by Blue Bottle
2. Sustainably Grown With A Mission
Stephanie from 61 Local (New York, NY)
At 61 Local, we consider quality coffee to be the first opportunity each day to support independent craft makers and choose a superior product. It’s a warm mug of aromatic goodness, a cup to grab at your favorite shop to jump start your morning, a drink to share amongst friends, family, and coworkers.
It’s the way to jump start an excellent day, every day.
By working with independent-roasters, we ensure that our coffee beans are sustainably-grown and sourced from the finest regions worldwide. We know that, like us, Oslo Coffee Roasters of Brooklyn strives to develop meaningful relationships with their suppliers and are constantly aware of the conditions, quality, and individuals who make their beans the best.
Keeping our coffee suppliers independent and in our local community, we are able to visit frequently and develop relationships with the producers themselves. We spend time sampling, visiting the facility, and learning of their organization, their methods, and most importantly, their mission. Understanding the product and who makes it enhances our knowledge, our beverage preparation, and, most importantly, our customer experience.
Images by 61 Local
3. Faitrade (Regardless Of Challenges)
Wade from Fair Grinds (New Orleans, LA)
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse on Ponce de Leon Street in MidCity and our new location on St. Claude Avenue in Marigny-Bywater are the only 100% fairtrade houses in New Orleans, so we pay a lot of attention to our reputation of having the best coffee in the city.
We’re lucky that New Orleans is a major coffee shipping port and the home of the largest coffee warehousing operation in the USA, so our roasters have lots of choices and can be very picky. That being said most of our beans are Mexican Altura, Guatemalan, Peruvian and Honduran. We are a social enterprise with 5% of our gross going back to support community organizing where we source the beans so this works well, especially in Honduras where we have a number of direct partnerships with coffee cooperatives around La Paz province and Marcala. We visited Nicaragua last year and were impressed at the fairtrade development around Matagalpa.
We’ve had two coffee challenges being a 100% fairtrade house. One is how to handle the New Orleans favorite: coffee and chicory. We think we may have the only fairtrade coffee and chicory in the world! Our roaster went through a dozen batches to come up with a very smooth blend of fair trade beans, largely Mexican, with chicory grown in Nebraska, rather than imported from France. Espresso is often a challenge for fairtrade because many believe that you need Brazilian beans to get the crema that people expect. Our roasters met the challenge with a blend of Ethiopian fairtrade and Guatemalan fairtrade bean that gave our coffee aficionados a super cup and allowed us to maintain our fairtrade values as well.
Images by Fair Grinds
4. With A Great Taste & Fair Price
Brian from Emerald City Coffee (Chicago, IL)
Coffee that is: seasonal, properly & fresh-roasted and fairly priced. However, for us at Emerald City, quality coffee is only the first of many variables to consider in the process of operating a coffee shop. So, in pursuit of good coffee, we have placed our trust in two local roasters, who provide good offerings roasted as we need (none of our coffee sold is ever roasted more than seven days before preparation).
In addition to that, our baristas make our own daily notes on our drips, for the aim of adding data to our own annual coffee taste chart. Oftentimes though, the all-encompassing worship of the bean has made some coffee shops forget that this industry is a (customer) service industry.
I believe from the point of view of a customer, a quality coffee is a coffee that: 1) tastes good 2) fairly priced, and 3) presented in an enjoyable environment. Certainly, number 1 on that list is quite challenging and important; however, what has brought us most appreciation from our customers in my humble opinion is the #2 & #3 that goes along with #1.
Images by Emerald City Coffee
5. From The Right Source
Paula from Greenline (Chicago, IL)
We have found that not only does good coffee matter but just as much from a business standpoint, is the support, knowledge base, and training that come with the person who you get the coffee from. The taste is of course important along with ethical procurement and knowing the farmer on the other side of the world.
We use Bridgeport Coffee Roastery for our coffee and have nothing but positive things to say about Mike Pilkington and his crew.