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Comments

Matt Carlson

Your points are well taken, but I think wine is simply the wrong model. It's attractive because of the extreme difference in value associated with vintage, but the quality of wine is much more stable over time in its end form.

I think the coffee industry ought to be looking at other food products as a model; perhaps the beef industry provides a better corollary (e.g. “Beef” = grocery, “Angus”= Starbucks, “Kobe”=Intelligentsia). Some restaurants are able to sell single ranch beef, but it's very rare. Here, preparation has much more to do with final taste.

Rich

"...the quality of wine is much more stable over time in its end form."

True enough.

Beef is an interesting analogy. It does make some sense if you take into consideration the entire price/service/quality experience: Mortons/Ruth Chris vs. Outback vs. Ponderosa...

But consumers usually don't know/care where the beef comes from (except for Kobe). We care about the cut. Does terrior have anything to do with the taste of beef? Probably, but I don't know anyone who's studied it.

In that regard coffee is very different from beef and closer to the wine analogy where the vineyard and vintner has a lot to do with labeling - and the roaster is not the "chateau" but would be more like a Georges duBouef or Rothschild or Coppolla - a name that gets attached to a variety of different "styles".

At that point, the only loose end is the barista.

Justin Kownacki

Ah, but here's the catch: a bottled wine at a premium price is a finished product. The finest coffee beans in the world can be polluted by using tap water and serving in a styrofoam cup. How does a coffee shop guarantee the top of the line will be used in all instances leading from the bean to the cup? Or does this allow for a la carte pricing ("I'd like the $20 coffee, but in a 25 cent plastic cup thaat will degrade in my mouth, so I'll pay $3 a cup instead of the $5 you're currently charging.")

Then again, who figured we'd be foolish enough to pay for bottled water someday?

Perhaps if the government could find fluoride in "regular" coffee, it would boost the market for "guaranteed pure"?

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What's Goin' On

  • Hey there... if you're looking for our physical store, we closed as of November 15, 2011. The space is under new ownership as Orbis Caffe, still serving delicious coffee and food with great service. We hope you'll give them a try. For info on Melanie and Rich, follow @aldo_mel or @richwesterfield or visit accidentalroaster.com.
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Advancing the Coffee Culture

  • Coffee Kids
    A charity we support that improves the quality of life for children in coffee-growing regions around the world.
  • CoffeeGeek
    Reviews on gadgetry and techniques for the home brewing enthusiast.
  • Coffee Review
    Connosieur Ken David and friends review and rate various coffees, including offerings served at Aldo Coffee Company from Intelligentsia Cofee Roasters like the fabulous espresso blend Black Cat.
  • Coffee Research
    What do you want to know about coffee?
  • Portafilter.net
    The geekiest of coffee geeks aspire to extract the absolute perfect cup.
  • Tea Guide
    Directory of shops serving quality teas.
  • Espresso Map
    A map that pinpoints the best espresso joints in the US and Canada as determined by the site's author and professional peer reviews.
  • Barismo
    Jamie Van Schyndel and friends dissect anything and everything coffee and tea related from beans and leaves to technique and equipment in pursuit of perfection.
  • Pittsburgh Area Coffee Association
    Jake Liefer of Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea built a blog aggregator and community site for local baristas.
  • In Season Coffee
    No coffee served after its time.
  • Sweet Maria's
    The ultimate source for green coffee for home roasters. Tom's knowledge of coffee is encyclopaedic.
  • twitchy
    Liz Clayton's blog is the ET of coffee.
  • Intelligentsia LA
    Group blog from Intelligentsia's Silver Lake and Venice baristas and roasters.
  • Accidental Roaster
    Adventures of a barista/cafe owner on becoming a coffee roaster.
  • Bitter Press
    Jess from Intelligentsia uses science to explain things.

Heroes & Legends

  • Murky Coffee (NoVa)
    Retailer (non-roaster) who's one of the best indie shops on the East Coast. Features selection of top roasters and pulls only ristrettos. No drip - Americanos and press pots only.
  • Stumptown (Portland, OR)
    Along with Intelligentsia, probably the most acclaimed coffee roaster in the US. A certifiable Coffee Mecca that's turned Portland into the quality coffee capital of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Espresso Vivace (Seattle)
    David Schomer is widely acknowledged as a perfectionist. Espresso Vivace is home to his science and art.
  • Intelligentsia (Chicago)
    Our coffee source and one of the most highly acclaimed roasters in US. Taught us most everything we know (although we think they're still holding back some secrets).
  • Joe The Art of Coffee (NYC)
    Preposterous name, but consistently ranked among top espresso joints in New York, which has to mean something, no?
  • Caffe Vittoria (Boston)
    OK, maybe it's not the best espresso in Boston. But Vittoria is a great North End experience. A riot of noise, cappuccino, cannoli and sambuca. This is Rich's dream joint. Except with better coffee.
  • Blue Bottle (SF)
    Beans microroasted fresh daily and whatever doesn't sell today is tossed. Has raised the bar for every other joint in the Bay Area.
  • Peets (Berkeley/SF)
    Alfred Peet is often called "the grandfather of the specialty coffee industry". Started in 1966, Peets continues to have a loyal following, despite tons of regional competition.
  • George Howell's Terroir (Boston)
    George's Coffee Connection was specialty coffee in New England for years. Then he sold out to the dark empire. Now he's back with Terroir, identifying and promoting single source coffees. No stores yet, only whole bean sales.
  • The Roasterie (Kansas City)
    Reginal powerhouse coffee buyer, roaster, trainer and local retail chain in KC, Missouri.
  • Ninth St. Espresso (NYC)
    King of espresso on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
  • Gimme! Coffee (Ithaca/NYC)
    Gimme! was among the first Eastern shops to rival the best in the PNW. Born in Ithaca, they're now in Brooklyn, Chelsea Market and LES.
  • Simon's (Boston)
    Cambridge, MA, used to be home to Jaime VanSchyndel, barista provocateur. Not sure if they're still what they were when Jaime was on bar, but it's likely still the best cup in Boston.
  • Caffe Artigiano (Vancouver, BC)
    Two time Canadian Barista Champ Sammy Piccolo and his roaster brother Vince have put Artigiano in the heads of espresso geeks worldwide. They cornered the market on 2005 Brazil CoE Santa Ines to ensure their proper place on the quality map.
  • Ritual Coffee (SF)
    Ask for Gabe or Baca. Lines usually out the door. For good reason.
  • Cafe Grumpy (NYC)
    In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and now with a Lower West Side storefront. Top equipment and beans from Ecco and Counter Culture.
  • Octane (Atlanta)
    Hotlanta's cool kids of coffee, led by M'lissa. Great skills, great training, great coffee.
  • Alterra (Milwaukee)
    One of our favorite macchiatos was served here. Scott and Justin rock. The espresso stands up to milk like few others.
  • Zoka (Seattle)
    One of the largest and best macroroasters in the Pacific Northwest. Numerous barista champions worked on bar for Zoka.

Muses

  • Chris Brogan
    Fun guy, busy guy, usually in Pgh for PodCamp. Chris is the best at distilling high-tech social media concepts for use in low-tech businesses.
  • Seth Godin
    There are a lot of big thinkers out there. Seth may not be the biggest, but he's the best at crystallizing big ideas into actionable agendas.
  • Hugh McLeod
    Been following Hugh since the early days of blogs. He called us one of his first global microbrands. We call him a revolutionary genius.