For the May 2013 issue, David Farley traveled to Ethiopia to immerse himself in coffee culture. Over the past decade, coffee connoisseurs in the United States have become obsessed with how beans are sourced and roasted. Third Wave (following Peet’s and Starbucks) coffee companies feed this passion by buying from individual farms and collectives and roasting their beans in small batches.
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE
Founded by James Freeman in Oakland, California, Blue Bottle pioneered the practice of delivering its beans to consumers within 48 hours of roasting. In addition to its beans from the Yirgacheffe region, Blue Bottle sells single-origin coffees, including Kemgin (with hints of peach, sugarcane, spice, and tea) and Nekisse (blackberries, huckleberries, and sugared lemon slices), from the boutique importer Ninety Plus. Coffee bars in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.
COUNTER CULTURE COFFEE ROASTERY
Ethiopian beans from three cooperatives come to the United States via Counter Culture, based in Durham, North Carolina. The Haru co-op, in the Yirgacheffe district, experiments with different wash processes and fermentation times to produce a bright, lemony coffee with notes of jasmine. Training centers at eight locations in the East, South, and Midwest hold public Friday coffee cuppings.
Stop by one of Intelligentsia’s coffee bars in Chicago or Los Angeles (additional openings are planned for New York and San Francisco) to sample beans from the Debello cooperative, located in Ethiopia’s western Jimma zone. Vice president and coffee buyer Geoff Watts recommends drinking Debello as a simple filtered brew to best appreciate its complex and fruity flavors. Various locations.
LAUGHING MAN COFFEE & TEA
The espresso blend Dukale’s Dream pays tribute to the Ethiopian coffee farmer who inspired actor Hugh Jackman to found this roastery. The Kochere-region beans deliver a robust flavor that stands up to frothy milk in Laughing Man’s signature flat white, which has more espresso and less milk than a latte. 184 Duane St., New York City.
STUMPTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS
With cafés in New York, Seattle, and its Portland, Oregon, home base, Stumptown has for three years been pouring a stonefruit-tinged floral coffee sourced from the Duromina cooperative in western Ethiopia. Co-op leaders recently told Stumptown representatives that they plan to use their profits to buy a local school bus and invest in other community projects. Various locations.
Photo by Ami Vitale. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.