Whenever I've brought up the subject of small-batch American roasters with hard-core coffee lovers, three or four names usually come up: Intelligentsia from Chicago, North Carolina's Counter Culture, Blue Bottle Coffee from the Bay Area, and Stumptown from Portland (now with locations in NYC, too).
Owner Duane Sorenson started Stumptown in 1999 with a small café on Division Street in Southeast Portland. He focused on buying beans directly from farmers, roasting them to perfection, and making drinks by hand to order.
His coffee caught on, and every two years he opened another location: in the Belmont area (2001), Downtown (2003), an annex to the Belmont shop (2005), at the Portland Ace Hotel (2007) and in Seattle (2007).
In 2008, Duane moved to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and the next year, Stumptown had shops at the Ace Hotel and, later, a Brew Bar in Red Hook, where you can learn how to brew the ideal cup of coffee. (Stumptown recommends grinding the beans just before brewing and using a French press with filtered water.)
If you don't live in Portland, Seattle, or New York, you can still buy Stumptown beans online. They have a catalog of coffees from around the world, including Direct Trade and Organic blends.
• In the News: Owner of Stumptown Coffee Moves to New York
• Food-Lover's Guide to Portland, Oregon
• Food Lover's Guide to Brooklyn, New York