Wake up and smell the springtime. A cup of coffee might help. Luckily, it’s time for a new edition of our Coffee Power Rankings, Food Republic’s recurring list of the major players in the coffee world, both established and on the verge. From craft roasters and coffee bar owners to farmers and brew equipment designers, if you’re serious about caffeination, these are the names to know.
10. Howard Schultz | Starbucks
You probably never thought you’d ever see the CEO of the Seattle-based coffee giant on our list. Truth is, Starbucks is still a gateway for many folks, the first step up from crappy drip coffee for countless java-curious. Plus, the company is making some pretty interesting moves, including an expansion into farming coffee for the first time. But really the main reason they made this list is for coming out so hard for marriage equality, despite what critics have said and done to thwart them.
9. Oliver Stormshak and Sam Schroeder | Olympia Coffee Roasting Co.
Based just 60 miles southwest of Starbucks’ home base, this small craft roaster is doing big things. Like opening its third café in Olympia, an attractive designer space featuring an open-bar setting and wrap-around seating. The growing company and its two owners, Oliver and Sam, who got their start pulling espresso shots as baristas, are still riding high from being named Roast Magazine’s 2013 Micro-Roaster of the Year.
8. Ric Rhinehart | Specialty Coffee Association of America
First things first: SCAA, the organization that hosted the epic collaborative coffee bar at this year’s TED conference in Long Beach, CA, used the same model created and implemented at past conferences by the now-defunct Coffee Common. The idea was to get roasters and baristas from around the country and beyond to bring their goods and skills to the event. Hey, it’s important to keep those brains caffeinated. Executive dhirector Ric says SCAA, like TED, aims to foster collaboration and spread knowledge.
7. Alan Adler | AeroPress
It may look like the sort of apparatus you wouldn’t want airport security to pull out of your suitcase in public, but the AeroPress plunge-operated brewing system has a total cult following. So much so, that there is even a World AeroPress Championship held annually. (The U.S. championship takes place next month.) Invented by Alan Alder, the device uses air pressure to speed up brewing, avoiding the bitter notes that can creep into coffee brewed using slower methods for a rich, smooth, grit-free cup.
6. The members | Santa Adelaida cooperative
It used to be family-owned, but this coffee farm in La Libertad, on the outskirts of San Salvador, is now a true cooperative with more than 150 members, plus hundreds more in the community who depend on the coffee harvest for their living. The coop grows more than 650 hectares of coffee beans and farms organically. Craft roasters like Intelligentsia and Allegro Coffee use its beans.
5. Raul Rodas | Paradigma Coffee Roasters
Countries that produce coffee often lack a good coffee culture of their own. The problem has long been that the best beans are always exported. But a few key characters in the coffee world, like grower Aida Batlle of El Salvador and barista Raul Rodas of Guatemala, are changing this trend. Raul is the 2012 World Barista Champ and founder of Paradigma, whose goal is to buy and roast Guatemala’s best beans at home.
4. Todd Carmichael | La Colombe Torréfaction
The outspoken co-founder of this Philadelphia-based roaster is more than just a purist and a peddler of properly roasted beans. He’s also an environmental and social activist – and now a reality TV star, to boot. His extreme-coffee Travel Channel show Dangerous Grounds, featuring Carmichael traveling the world looking for that perfect cup of joe, is now in production for its second season.
3. Dan Streetman | Irving Farm Coffee
The longtime U.S. Barista Championship judge is now the green coffee buyer at this venerable New York coffee chianlet, where he also oversees roasting and trains baristas. Driven by the relationships he forms with coffee farmers, he is able to bring in rare and unique beans from undiscovered growers. Soon, these will be sold at the growing company’s forthcoming newest location on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
2. James Freeman | Blue Bottle Coffee
This cult Bay Area coffee bar and craft roaster now has locations around San Francisco and New York. The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, written by James, his wife and Blue Bottle’s pastry chef Caitlin, and San Francisco Chronicle writer Tara Duggan, acts as a manual, a cookbook and coffee porn tome. If you have it already, get Caitlin’s latest book, Modern Art Desserts, a cookbook-slash-art book detailing beautiful edible creations. [You can also read our interview with James.]
1. Trevor Fife | Stumptown
Education is an important part of coffee culture. Few people have spread the third-wave coffee message more than Trevor Fife. He’s the resident filmmaker at Stumptown, which means he has traveled with founder Duane Sorenson to the places where coffee is grown and filmed as the beans are being sourced. He shows the faces of the growers and communicates the passions of baristas and coffee buyers. Plus, he’s the guy who made the opening credits to True Blood so you know he knows from intrigue.