From time to time we take a look at who is impressing us the most in the world of coffee — be it growers, baristas, engineers and all-around innovators.
Now that you’ve embraced your coffee snob status, you’ll want to keep abreast of all that is brewing in the world of java, from the craft coffee roasting stars of the moment to the trailblazing baristas who expertly handle the world’s most coveted beans. Food Republic’s Coffee Power Rankings help keep you on top of the who’s who of the coffee world so that you be rest assured you’re caffeinating in style. Here’s the latest edition:
10. Dr. Timothy Schilling | World Coffee Research
As an agronomist and executive director of WCR, Schilling has worked tirelessly to educate the coffee community on issues like coffee rust, a disease that is devastating coffee plantations. He is also spearheading a new initiative whereby top coffee roasters around the country can contribute to a WCR fund that addresses disease treatment and prevention strategies to help keep Arabica coffee plants healthy. The organization’s efforts also help improve the lives of coffee growers around the world.
9. 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 consumers. Plus, the company is making some pretty interesting moves, including expanding into farming coffee for the first time. And in light of the recent DOMA reversal, we love how hard Shultz came out for marriage equality, despite what critics said and did to thwart him.
8. Mike Perry | Klatch Coffee
It’s always a wonderful thing when someone can come up with a new way to enjoy coffee. Southern California–based roaster Klatch did just that when it released its Cascara tea, an herbal tea made from the dried berries of the coffee plant. It’s a popular drink in several coffee-growing nations, such as Bolivia and Yemen, but is rarely produced for export. Perry, owner and roastmaster of the award-winning roastery (and father of U.S. Barista Champ Heather Perry), says he’s having a hard time keeping the tea in stock.
7. Corey Waldron | Modbar
Keep an eye out for this sleek new toy. Of course, the best part of the new Modbar modular brewing system is what you don’t see. From where the customer stands, all that’s visible are the espresso, steam and pour-over taps. Everything else is under the counter. The idea, according to creator Waldron, is to open up the space between barista and customer, and in turn the conversation. Nerds will love the Kelvin temperature display. But everyone can feel good about how fast it reaches operating temperature: five minutes (some machines take so long to heat up, they’re left on 24/7 – not so eco-friendly).
6. Khristian Bombeck | Steampunk
Another new contraption already cropping up in coffee bars is the Steampunk. The better the coffee we all drink, it seems, the longer we all have to wait to drink it. With beans ground and brewed to order using low-tech equipment like pourovers and siphons, a coffee break can be quite the time commitment. Founder Bombeck has created a semi-automated machine that acts like a siphon or vacuum pot, but is programmable, eliminating the long waits and brewing inconsistencies associated with infusion-style brewing. Look for it at La Colombe coffee bars.
5. The Idido Cooperative
A Counter Culture Coffee favorite, the Idido Cooperative is a farm in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. Established in the late 1970s, it has roughly 1,000 members who grow heirloom coffee varieties in rich, fertile soils at extremely high altitudes. According to Counter Culture, which has sourced its coffee from Idido for nearly a decade, the members tend to farm small plots around their homes. The environment is biodiverse and the climate ideal; the coffee is shade grown, harvest washed and certified organic. Order it from Counter Culture for $16 per bag this month.
4. Jeff Verellen | 2013 World AeroPress Champion
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 are annual championships held in countries around the world, culminating in the World AeroPress Championship. This year’s winner, crowned in May in Melbourne, is from Antwerp’s Caffenation, a coffee bar and roastery. Verellen, who also won the title in 2011, brought his own water from Belgium to brew with.
3. Pete Licata | 2013 World Barista Championship
Speaking of world champs, the 2013 World Barista Championship was also held in Melbourne this past May. Top honors went to our own homegrown talent. Licata hails from Kansas City, where he works at Parisi Coffee, but previously worked at the Ka’u coffee farm in Hawaii, where he got to raise, pick and process beans. He is a two-time U.S. Champ, but this was his first world title and only the second time in the competition’s 13-year history that an American took top honors.
2. Steve Mierisch | The Pulley Collective
Serious New York coffee bars that have long wanted to roast their own beans now have the opportunity to do so. The Pulley Collective is a communal coffee-roasting plant located in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. Prospective roasters can rent out the space (for a very reasonable fee), which includes professional-grade roasting and quality control equipment. Founder Mierisch, who is from a coffee-growing family, hopes the concept will no only create great coffee, but foster new ideas and relationships.
1. Jonathan Rubenstein | Joe the Art of Coffee
With a flock of locations in New York (and one in Philadelphia), Joe has been a mainstay for local coffee buffs since its inception a decade ago. But, until now, it has served coffee from various craft roasters. As one of the first and highest profile customers of the The Pulley Collective, it’s finally roasting its own beans. Rubenstein says he’s starting slowly, with just half a dozen roasts available now. Education being a cornerstone of his philosophy, he also hopes to host customers on roasting tours.
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