Location: Oakland, Calif.
Founded: 2002
Where to get it: Blue Bottle shops in Oakland, San Francisco, and New York; coffee shops nationwide but primarily throughout New York and California; online at bluebottlecoffee.com
Roaster recommends: Rusty's Hawaiian Kenya Style. It's grown on Hawaii's Big Island (a rare American coffee) and described online as creamy and complex with raspberry aromatics and tastes of red apple. It's best brewed as a drip, nel drip, French press, or siphon coffee.

If you walk into Blue Bottle's flagship shop and roastery in either Oakland or Brooklyn, it's immediately apparent that the company takes the freshness of its coffee very seriously, since you can see the roasting underway as you place your order.

What might surprise you is that these guys aren't going to serve you beans right out of the roaster—they've determined there is such a thing as too fresh, giving new meaning to the phrase "fresh to death." According to Blue Bottle's standards, espresso beans are best served four to seven days after being roasted, and drip coffees taste best between day two and day six.

In the interest of making it easy to bring the same scientific precision to your home brewing, the company has one of the most elegant online stores in the business, with detailed picture guides for different brewing methods, and it ships all its coffee out within 48 hours. It also offers lots of educational events, including two weekly cuppings at the Oakland store and a weekly one in Brooklyn.

But all that effort wouldn't be worth it if the beans weren't fantastic. Fortunately, Blue Bottle offers several smooth blends and a handful of unique single origins, the majority of them organic.