Location: Durham, N.C.
Where to get it: Coffee shops along the East Coast, especially in and around cities with training centers, which include Durham, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., Boston, Asheville, Atlanta, and Chicago; Everyman Espresso in New York, Ultimo in Philadelphia, and Peregrine Espresso in Washington, D.C.; online at counterculturecoffee.com
Roaster recommends: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Idido. A washed coffee with "very intense citrus or lemon grass with melon in the finish," it's best brewed as a single serving pour over.
Counter Culture's fingerprints are all over the way today's roasters are running their businesses, from the company's pioneering focus on sustainability and Direct Trade, to its model of setting up training centers and educating customers in its primary cities of operation. Although the company doesn't operate any shops of its own, if you're getting a kickass shot of espresso on the East Coast, chances are good your barista got some training here.
But learning about coffee isn't just for the pros: You too can stop by any one of the training centers on Friday morning for an educational cupping that's open to the public or sign up for brewing and espresso classes. Counter Culture rotates its beans seasonally to bring in the freshest crops, and it's constantly trying out creative new things like roasting unique microlots or offering cascara, an extremely caffeinated tea made from dried coffee fruit.
Whatever the roaster's doing, it's guaranteed to be sustainable, thanks to efforts of a full-time sustainability manager and close work with many farms chosen in part for their environmental approach. The company is part of a soil health awareness campaign called Save Our Soil, and 70 percent of its coffees are organic. Down to earth, good for the earth, and one of the best coffee roasters on earth? All they do is win, win, win.