USA Today’s Top 10 Coffee Spots

USA Today’s March 2nd “10 Great” feature “10 great places to get jazzed about great java.” Coffee reviewer Kenneth Davids made the recommendations, so it’s no surprise to find some winners on there.

Intelligentsia is one of the first high-end roasters I came across when I started exploring coffee seriously. I’ve had a few occassions to try their famous Black Cat espresso blend and enjoyed visiting one of their Chicago stores last spring. Portland’s Stumptown and Seattle’s Zoka are two I’ve tried in tastings but not visited personally, though I tried quite a bit of the latter a few weekends ago at Washington, DC’s Coffee Fest trade show. (If you’re in San Francisco, you can get Stumptown coffee and espresso at the wildly successful Ritual Roasters on Valencia.) Also in San Francisco, Caffe Trieste is worth visiting for the history and authentic Italian feel.

Other than a single shot of Terroir espresso and one visit to a Peet’s in Chicago, I don’t have experience with the rest. Anyone here who has?

[Cross-posted on Smelling the Coffee, where I’m now guest-blogging on all things coffee related. Some items I’ll crosspost, others will be there exclusively.]


10 thoughts on “USA Today’s Top 10 Coffee Spots”

  1. Of course I’ve been to Zoka. You were misinformed the other day when you were told that I hadn’t. (Never mind that it was I doing the misinforming.) I needed a visual on the logo and the physical address. Of the West Coast spots mentioned (and yes, I’ve been to each of them) Trieste is my fav, and it’s the only one I like better than Intelligentsia. Of course, I answer the siren’s call and judge on the “experience” rather than simply the espresso.

  2. I’ve been to both of the New York cafes. They’re great hang-outs (as long as you don’t try to use your laptop), but I think they qualify more as spots for the historically curious than as actual coffee destinations. Go to 9th St. Espresso if you’re more interested in your coffee than in the surrounding decor.

  3. I’ve only been to Zoka’s. I guess it depends how you want to evaluate the shop. By the coffee they serve or the atmosphere? Do places that do in-house roasting get extra points or if they roast themselves off-site is it better?

    What I like about Zoka’s is they do in-house roasting, AND they have an absolutely outstanding bakery. The bakery alone would make it worthwhile. Plus it’s a counter-service place (which I prefer over a full-restuarant type service, like DC’s Tryst is more “restuarant” than coffee shop IMHO).

    But the problem with a lot of those spots is they get really crowded (and noisy) and it starts getting hard to go there because you never know if you are going to get a table anyway.

  4. Glad to hear good things about Zoka’s bakery. I plan to visit there in person in a few months.

    I don’t necessarily favor shops that roast in house. I’d rather go to a place like Murky or Tryst that uses fresh beans from a top roaster like Counter Culture than a place that does a poorer job roasting its own beans. Roasting is an art and a science that doesn’t come easily, and most shops can’t afford to source their own beans at origin the way top roasters do. Places like Zoka who manage to excel at roasting and retailing are rare, and I think they’re awesome for it.

    I’m with you on prefering counter service to a wait staff. In my opinion, putting an intermediary between the customer and the barista makes it harder to talk to customers about coffee and to highlight the process of espresso drink preparation.

  5. I was wondering if you’ve ever had Stumptown. I live about 2 blocks away from 2 of them and am a hands-down stumptown addict. It’s by far the best in Portland. The Stumptown Annex just got this brand new one-cup coffeemaker. They literally had the first one (but it broke) so now they have the 2nd or 3rd one. I forget what it’s called but maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s supposedly a whole new brew for a cup. But if you ever come to Portland, you’ll know you’ll have some fab coffee. 🙂

  6. The Clover! I wrote about it here a while ago. It has coffee people really excited. What do you think of it?

    I’ve tried Stumptown once at Ritual in San Francisco and once at a tasting in DC, but never at their own locations. Definitely on my list to visit.

  7. True Grounds is a gem and its always hopping, with lines out the door for the morning and lunch rush. Better yet, they care:

    When a couple of community groups were doing a park cleanup in the Ball Square neighborhood, True Grounds donated coffee for the volunteers. Far and away the best donated coffee I’ve ever had.

  8. Yes the Clover! I had my first cup of it last week. And it is quite tasty. I wish i had some better coffee-ese description but it is different from they way they used to make it. I had a cup of Ethiopia Sidamo and it didn’t quite have the ‘strawberries and creme’ flavor that it can have but it was really smooth. sometimes stumptown makes really thick and sludgy cups of coffee by french press, but this is one isn’t like that at all. very yummy.

Comments are closed.