This list does not attempt to judge either the coffee this baristas are using or the quality of the shots they are pulling day to day .... I'm considering how to apply this same approach to coffees...
Obviously, the value of the prior post was compromised by looking purely at the baristas (in the abstract). If the goal really is to give people a direction to go to understand what espresso can and should taste like, then the coffee needs to be considered as well. To answer the question of "what does great espresso taste like" by sending someone to taste great espresso from a great barista - I would need to look at the barista, the coffee - and the combination of the two.
So after some consideration, I went back to the same "panel" of baristas etc and asked them a similar question to last time - but in this case looking at the coffees.
You walk into a very good coffee bar to get an espresso. What espressos would you be most excited to see them working with?
As with the last time, all nominated coffees would require multiple nominations to be added to the list. Unlike last time, with the espressos I asked for folks to rank up to three of them in order. I then used a combination of ranking score and number of nominations to determine the final list.
In the end, the list of espressos that folks would be most excited to see on bar is:
Square Mile -- London, UK
Stumptown -- Portland, OR; Seattle,WA; Brooklyn, NY
The Coffee Collective -- Copenhagen, DEN
Wendelboe -- Oslo, NO
Ecco Caffe -- Santa Rosa, CA
Kaffa -- Oslo, NO
Intelligentsia -- Chicago, IL; LA, CA
Of course, again, the same major caveats apply.
There is massive under-representation from Australia and New Zealand due to low response numbers from that region.
Obscure roasters and roasters not known on the international scene are under-represented.
That means that there are probably some very good coffees being left off this list.
In addition, there are two additional caveats.
First, the people surveyed in general are excited about coffees they cannot get. So a lot of North American folks nominated coffees from Scandinavia. You get the idea. This might skew the results a bit.
Second, this is purely intended to discuss espressos - not all coffees and explicitly not coffees designed for other brew methods.
And the disclaimer.... this is not an attempt to claim these are the "best" roasters in any way shape or form or that these roasters produce the "best" coffee. It's simply looking at the other axis of information to address the original question "how do I know what great espresso tastes like."
So now we have the baristas - and the coffees.
What does this mean (other than suggesting it would be worthwhile to pack 5lbs of Square Mile Winter espresso or Hairbender for a flight to Copenhagen so you can beg Klaus to pull you shots)?
Well... it looks to me like the best options for understanding what espresso can and should taste like would be for you to do something like go to:
- Copenhagen and have Klaus Thomsen pull you some shots of espresso from The Coffee Collective, or
- Portland and have Billy Wilson pull you some shots of espresso from Stumptown or Ecco Caffe, or
- Oslo and have Tim Wendelboe pull you some shots of espresso from Wendelboe, or
- London and have James Hoffman pull you some shots of espresso from Square Mile, or
- Chicago and have Mike Phillips pull you some shots from Intelligentsia.
Hmmm... I guess I have my vacations planned for the next 2 years!!!