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The Best Coffee Roasters in All 50 States

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Americans have an intimate relationship with their coffee. It’s the drink that gets them going, the first hit of flavor in their day. It’s the steaming (or iced) cup that sets the tone for what’s to follow. And at a time when tastes have evolved past watery, gets-the-job-done brews into the bold, the origin-specific, and the fair trade certified, it had better be good. With so many interesting coffee roasters out there, including many who have set up shop in just the past few years, selecting the best one in each state was quite difficult. We researched our picks carefully, with an eye for detail that honors the studious methods of coffee innovators across the country.

1. ALABAMA // MAMA MOCHA’S COFFEE EMPORIUM & ROASTERS

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Take it from the caffeinated college crowd, who’ve left one rapturous review after another for this roaster and café: Mama Mocha’s makes the best coffee around. Owner Sarah Barnett Gill and her team get extra credit for blends that are both well crafted and highly eclectic, like Dawn of the Dead, a house roast with an extra caffeine jolt, and the whiskey-infused Black Moonshine.

2. ALASKA // KALADI BROTHERS COFFEE

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

In coffee-obsessed Alaska, Kaladi Brothers stays ahead of the curve with stringent quality standards and a splash of ingenuity. The company, which operates 13 cafes and began in 1986 as a roadside stand, selects only organic, shade-grown beans, then air roasts them—a process that many prefer for its clean, uniform flavor. With more than a million pounds of beans roasted each year, Kaladi offers plenty of fuel for those long, cold winters.

3. ARIZONA // CARTEL COFFEE LAB

Location: Tempe, Arizona


Cartel’s methods are no secret: Just stop by their Tempe warehouse for a tour, or browse their website for ratios and other nitty gritty details. Transparency aside, Cartel’s sophisticated roasting process isn’t easily duplicated. The same goes for its direct sourcing program and stringent barista training, which suffers no slouches. Taken together, Cartel’s process has helped the roaster and café become one of Arizona’s premier coffee destinations.

4. ARKANSAS // ONYX COFFEE LAB

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas

A region best known for big companies like Wal-Mart and Tyson might not seem like the ideal place to roast small-batch coffee by hand. But Onyx has found an enthusiastic audience in Fayetteville, who come for their daily cup and for special events like roasting classes and an annual barista throw-down. Onyx prizes unique tasting notes like "mulled wine" and "brouléed grapefruit." And true to its name, it's a laboratory for experimental roasts, like micro-lot Ethiopian varietals and beans roasted with lactic acid.

5. CALIFORNIA // FOUR BARREL COFFEE

Location: San Francisco, California

What does it take to be the best roaster in hip, caffeinated California? Start with a sourcing team that spends most months on the road seeking out the best beans from Africa, South America, and beyond. Then, using a vintage German roaster, turn out light, flavorful coffee that draws long lines of customers all hours of the day. In addition to mind-blowing coffee, Four Barrel offers classes like a "Water Quality Seminar" aimed at making you a better at-home brewer.

6. COLORADO // BOXCAR COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Boulder, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain state has seen a boom in coffee roasters over the past few years. But Boxcar has a secret weapon: a refurbished 1929 Gothot Ideal Rapid roaster from Germany. The nearly century-old workhorse turns out beans that have garnered many a loyal patron in Boulder and throughout the country. To bring out the full flavor in every cup, Boxcar employs a special boiling method in its two cafes that utilizes custom-made flasks. It’s old school meets new school, with very flavorful results.

7. CONNECTICUT // J. RENÉ

Location: West Hartford, Connecticut

Proprietor José René Martínez Onofre thinks he might have actually tasted his first cup of coffee before he learned to walk. That early love affair led him to open his first shop in West Hartford in 2012, an "artisanal coffee gathering place" that’s as much a social hub as a java shop. Martínez is fanatical about bean sourcing and brewing techniques—French Press as well as Chemex pour-overs—which is probably why he’s earned rave reviews since he first unlocked his doors.

8. DELAWARE // NOTTING HILL COFFEE

Location: Lewes, Delaware

Notting Hill owner Amy Felker keeps her coffee roaster in the front window of her café in Lewes, but it’s not much of a distraction: she roasts most of her annual 40,000 pounds of coffee at night. Felker’s obsession with coffee is all-encompassing: she deals in flavored beans, often derided by coffee purists, and has found that some self-mixed concoctions wind up being her biggest sellers. (One tastes like a certain nautical-themed breakfast cereal.) The blends are also available via mail-order.

9. FLORIDA // PANTHER COFFEE

Location: Miami, Florida

Panther’s reputation for an excellent cup has done more than expand their Miami-area footprint: their coffee is known all over the country. Locals can walk into their storefronts and get information sheets about growers; beans are available online. Not bad for a business that started serving cold brews out of a food truck.

10. GEORGIA // COOL BEANS COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Marietta, Georgia

A "Best of Atlanta" winner in 2015, Cool Beans tackles more than 40 different varieties of coffee in a roaster they’ve dubbed Big Red. And if you can't make it in to sip your selection on their outdoor patio, the roasts are also offered via their web store.

11. HAWAII // BIG ISLAND COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Mountain View, Hawaii

As the only state that grows coffee in commercial quantities, Hawaii might be home to some of the freshest beans in the U.S. Big Island doesn’t have a retail front, but its distinctive artisanal beans are sold all over the territory and they've picked up virtually every award out there—the USDA even honored them with a grant for their continuing efforts to improve local coffee quality. If you ask nicely, they might even give you a farm tour.

12. IDAHO // DOMA COFFEE

Location: Post Falls, Idaho

Staunchly supportive of fair trade, the coffee buyers at DOMA go through considerable hoops—and expense—to support smaller, organic farmers. DOMA never skirts corners, shipping their coffees in recycled bags, utilizing a roaster that uses 80 percent less gas to operate, and making sure every cup served is as environmentally responsible as possible.

13. ILLINOIS // INTELLIGENTSIA

Location: Chicago, Illinois

In business for over 20 years, Intelligentsia has spread all over Chicago owing to demand for their specialty craft coffees. The key to their success: standing side-by-side with growers to develop and select their preferred beans.

14. INDIANA // BEE COFFEE

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis Monthly named Bee Coffee Roasters one of the best indie coffee roasters in the city, thanks partly to their self-imposed limitations. The company uses only a five-pound roaster for beans, which means small and frequent batches of ultra-fresh coffee with a different flavor every time. Bee also likes to spend time on aesthetics: co-owner Andy Gilman spearheads a "League of Lattes" milk art competition in the city.

15. IOWA // SIDECAR COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Home-roasting began as a hobby for Jed Vander Zanden, but after he and his wife moved to Cedar Falls, Vander Zanden decided to launch his own business. He opened Sidecar in 2012, and java aficionados are welcome to swing by the downtown location on Washington Street to watch as he roasts small batches of specialty, direct-trade coffee beans from around the world. You can buy them at food co-ops, markets, and coffee shops around Iowa, or online.

16. KANSAS // PT’S COFFEE ROASTING CO.

Location: Topeka, Kansas

Photojournalist Jeff Taylor, and his roommate, fast food chain manager Fred Polzin, founded PT’s (P for Polzin, T for Taylor) in 1993 after Taylor tried—and failed—to find a local outlet that brewed an amazing cup of coffee. Taylor eventually convinced Polzin to give roasting a try, and in 1997, PT’s reestablished itself as a roasting operation, and began sourcing beans from skilled artisan farmers around the world. Nearly 80 percent of their coffee is acquired through direct trade, meaning the company buys beans straight from the growers, cutting out the middlemen. In 2009, Roast magazine named PT’s their "Macro Roaster of the Year," and you can now find the company’s product across the Midwest and in select East Coast coffee shops.

17. KENTUCKY // SUNERGOS COFFEE

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is famous for being the home of the Kentucky Derby—but it’s also becoming known as one of the South’s go-to coffee destinations. Sunergos Coffee (which gets its name from the Greek word meaning "working together") is a local coffee franchise and micro-roastery that sources sustainably harvested, responsibly farmed beans. Swing by the Woodlawn Avenue outpost, and you might even catch the roasters in action: their 1500-foot micro-roastery is at the back of the store, and is clearly visible through a glass wall separating the production facilities from the café area. And though Sunergos is still largely a regional operation, it has a national reputation: In 2014, it won the "America's Best Espresso" competition at Coffee Fest, an annual trade event for tea and coffee enthusiasts.

18. LOUISIANA // RÊVE COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Lafayette, Louisiana

Deep in the heart of Cajun Country, you’ll find Rêve Coffee Roasters—a coffee shop/micro-roastery in Lafayette that was founded by two Louisiana natives, Nathanael Johnson and Christopher Pickle. Recently, they moved the business to a much larger location on Jefferson Street, which allows them to serve meals and use the bar space so employees can roast beans directly on site. Rêve operates a wholesale business, and sells its beans to local cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores. Many of the bean varieties come from Royal Coffee New York, but Rêve is also establishing direct trade operations with farms in Guatemala and El Salvador.

19. MAINE // TANDEM COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Portland, Maine

In 2012, husband-and-wife team Will and Kathleen Pratt opened Tandem Coffee Roasters—a combination coffee shop and micro-roastery—in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood. Two years later, the duo converted an old gas station in Portland's West End into a second outpost—this time, a bakery and coffee shop.

Tandem sources its beans from all over the world, and on Fridays patrons can visit the company’s East Bay location to enjoy free tasting sessions and watch the roasting process. And if you love coffee and music, you can sign up for Tandem’s "coffee and vinyl club," a partnership with online record sellers KMA in which subscribers receive both a new record and a different bag of Tandem’s beans each month.

20. MARYLAND // CEREMONY COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Annapolis, Maryland

Ceremony Coffee Roasters sources coffee beans from four continents and imports them to their flagship location—a storefront/roastery in Annapolis (other locations are in Baltimore and D.C.). Java lovers who visit the franchise’s West Street location can enjoy a seasonal coffee menu, and at the building’s back they can watch the roasters in action (or, if interested, partake in a specialty brewing class).

21. MASSACHUSETTS // BARISMO COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Greater Boston Area

Barisimo is small, yet flourishing—and more importantly, it’s ready to innovate. Founded in 2008, the roastery operates three Barismo cafés in the greater Boston area (Barisimo 171, a shop at the roastery’s original location in Arlington, operates a lab-style coffeebar). Barisimo sources direct trade beans from around the globe, but the roastery is equally known for its creative approach toward coffee: They recently developed a patent-pending cold-brew injector to make nitrogenated cold brew kegs.

22. MICHIGAN // MADCAP COFFEE COMPANY

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Madcap Coffee Company co-founders Trevor Corlett and Ryan Knapp—who launched their business in 2008—source their beans directly from farms or cooperatives around the world.  After sampling thousands of coffees, they select 15 to 20 to roast and sell. With that kind of attention to detail, it’s no surprise that their product is carried in select coffee shops around the country, from San Antonio to New York.

Customers can sip on Madcap Coffee in two of the roastery’s specialty coffee shops in Grand Rapids (one of them is located adjacent to the micro-roastery, and lets customers watch the roasting process). East Coasters can also enjoy the brew: Madcap Coffee recently opened up a satellite office and training center in Washington, D.C.

23. MINNESOTA // PARADISE COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Ramsey, Minnesota

If the word "artisanal" appeals to you, Paradise is the way to go. Since 2002, founder R. Miguel Meza and his team have been hand-selecting and micro-roasting the very best blends from growers in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia. Looking for a new morning roast? Check out Paradise’s chocolaty Blue Sky Breakfast blend, which scored 91 out of 100 in Coffee Review.

24. MISSISSIPPI // BEANFRUIT COFFEE COMPANY

Location: Jackson, Mississippi

BeanFruit proudly focuses on single-origin coffees and educating consumers about the beans in their cup. "We want our customers to be aware of what beverage they are drinking, where it came from, and how it affects coffee farmers around the world," says founder Paul Bonds. Try BeanFruit’s Kenya Nyeri Chinga Peaberry for a bright, complex roast with notes of melon and nectarine.

25. MISSOURI // ODDLY CORRECT

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

The self-described "coffee zealots" at Oddly Correct are on a mission "to freak out your morning cup." If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, head over to their website or check out the café on Main Street for a cup of Space Monkey Seasonal Espresso, which boasts a creamy body, raw-sugar sweetness, and tropical fruitiness.

26. MONTANA // BLACK COFFEE ROASTING CO.

Location: Missoula, Montana

If you like your coffee dark and your products green, head over to Black Coffee Roasting Co. in Missoula. The company and café’s blends are all sustainable, craft roasted, and 100 percent organic. They’re also delicious. For an indulgent sip, try the rich-bodied variety called The Hunt, which promises hints of baker’s chocolate, strawberry, honey, and graham cracker.

27. NEBRASKA // BEANSMITH COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Seasonal sourcing isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of coffee, but the heartland-based Beansmith Coffee Roasters have built a business around finding the freshest, most vibrant beans for every cup. For new autumnal flavors, pop into the Old Market Café on Harney Street in Omaha and try the smoky, clove-flavored Phoenix blend.

28. NEVADA // HUB COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Reno, Nevada

Hub Coffee Roasters were founded on two ideals: coffee and community. (Don’t think coffee is an ideal? Just talk to them.) The company now has an online shop and three Reno locations and has recently begun sourcing its own beans from South America. A good pick: the Peruvian Nuevo Trujillo roast, with notes of plum and dried fruit.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // FLIGHT COFFEE CO.

Location: Bedford and Dover, New Hampshire

Flight Coffee Co. founder Claudia Barrett began with a dream and a passion for fresh, farm-to-pot coffee. Today she’s the leader of a small army of obsessive coffee roasters who regularly take classes to keep up with the latest science, techniques, and trends. Visit the roasting lab and tasting room in Bedford or treat the coffee connoisseur in your life to a monthly bean subscription.

30. NEW JERSEY // MODCUP COFFEE

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Founded by Justin Hicks and Travas Clifton in 2013, Modcup prides itself on serving up the freshest roasts, and sells all of its coffee within 18 days of its roast date. In addition to Modcup’s Jersey City coffee shop and roastery, the company built a unique mobile roastery inside a restored 1969 Citroen H-Van, which was once used to deliver fresh bread in France. The truck now splits its time between serving fresh coffee outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Jersey City and making appearances at parties and fairs in the Tri-State area.

31. NEW MEXICO // MICHAEL THOMAS COFFEE

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

For over a decade, local coffee roaster Michael Thomas and his two daughters have created unique blends and single origin roasts for customers at their Albuquerque shops. Thomas and his team experiment with every new batch of beans they order to find the perfect roast profile for each. In recent years, Thomas has opened an online store as well. In addition to roasting their own beans, the two Michael Thomas Coffee shops in Albuquerque also host regular coffee classes, teaching coffee lovers about coffee history, and how to make different coffee varieties.

32. NEW YORK // GIMME! COFFEE

Location: Ithaca, Trumansburg, and New York City, New York

Winner of Roast magazine’s 2013 "Macro Roaster of the Year" award, Gimme! Coffee has come a long way since it was first founded in a charmingly cramped cafe in Ithaca back in 2000. Nowadays, the coffee roaster has seven locations in Ithaca, Trumansburg, and New York City, and supplies its beans to shops and markets across the country. The company prides itself on creating flavorful, high-quality blends and on its sustainable, ethical practices which include a composting program and partnerships with their coffee growers.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // COUNTER CULTURE

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Counter Culture is based in Durham, but sells its beans on its website, and wholesale to coffee shops around the United States. The North Carolina roaster believes in sustainable practices, embraces fully transparent business practices, and, of course, makes some truly delicious coffees. Unlike some specialty roasters, Counter Culture encourages its customers to make their versatile beans using any brewing method they want. They also offer free weekly coffee tastings and brewing classes at regional training centers in Durham and 10 other cities around the United States.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // TWENTY BELOW

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

You can find Twenty Below’s single origin roasts and blends online, served up at coffee shops throughout North Dakota, and at their Fargo coffee bar and roastery. The coffee roaster works with small farms and cooperatives to acquire beans that can’t be found at larger coffee chains, and reviewers on Yelp have called their roasts "delicious," "complex," and "unique."

35. OHIO // CRIMSON CUP COFFEE & TEA

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea may supply coffee to stores around the country, but it still roasts its beans carefully in small batches. Each shipment of 150-pound bags of coffee arrives at the Crimson Cup headquarters in Columbus, where a master roaster oversees the roast profile of each bean variety. The company, which won Roast magazine’s 2016 "Macro Roaster of the Year" award also hosts coffee tastings and roasting lessons at its Innovation Lab in Columbus. 

36. OKLAHOMA // ELEMENTAL COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Elemental Coffee Roasters in Oklahoma City is obsessed with serving up "elemental" coffee flavors. It puts an emphasis on retaining the natural flavors of its beans, and refuses to intentionally tamper with or add to its flavor. "You might say our coffee has a mind of its own," the Elemental website explains. "It tastes this way one day, but it may taste completely different the next." Elemental Coffee Roasters sells its coffees online and at its Oklahoma City location.

37. OREGON // STUMPTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Portland, Oregon

Portland has a sea of high-quality coffee outfits, but Stumptown remains a favorite both locally and in cafes across the country. One of the pioneers of the third-wave coffee movement, Stumptown won Roast magazine's Roaster of the Year competition back in 2006. The coffee-focused Sprudge.com calls the company’s Portland headquarters, which opened in 2012, "an absolute sight to behold." The company hosts daily free tastings there, with $15 behind-the-scenes roastery tours and classes also available. If you do take a tour or an intro to coffee class, you get to take home your own bag of freshly roasted beans.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // SQUARE ONE COFFEE

Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Square One Coffee is a family-owned roasting company that has accumulated some serious accolades. The roastery has won a Good Food Award in the coffee category three years running, and one of its baristas won 10th place at the U.S. Barista Championships in 2015. Stop by the Lancaster café and sip a brewed-to-order cup in the backyard garden, or head to the roasting facility across town to take a class alongside the cafe’s own up-and-coming talent, led by instructors certified by the Barista Guild of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. (There are also two locations to enjoy in Philly.)

39. RHODE ISLAND // VANUATU COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Single-origin obsessives, pay attention. The beauty of Vanuatu Coffee Roasters lies in its absolute dedication to the South Pacific island nation that gives the roastery its name. Co-founder Jimmy Lappin traveled to the Republic of Vanuatu in 2009 as a tourist, and was so taken with the local coffee that he and his sister, Martha Soderlund, teamed up with a local cooperative to source beans exclusively from farmers on the island of Tanna. No need for milk here; Lappin boasts that Vanuatu coffee lacks any trace of bitterness.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // COASTAL COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Summerville, South Carolina

Coastal Coffee Roasters, located outside Charleston, sources beans from around the world, then roasts them to perfection in small batches. The downtown Summerville café is host to a rotating calendar of events, including yoga, open mic nights, and local music—and they serve up a decent sandwich to go with that perfect cup.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // PURE BEAN ROASTERS

Location: Rapid City, South Dakota

Pure Bean Roasters was started out of a garage in 2013, and the owners only opened up a café this year, continuing to roast their beans at co-owner Mark Royalty’s home long after the company began shipping nationwide. Pure Bean only sells organic, fair trade beans that are air-roasted in small batches, rather than in the high-capacity drums that most commercial coffee roasters use. Instead of being stirred in a hot drum, the beans float on a bed of hot air, ensuring consistency in the roast. The result is a smooth, low-acid cup of coffee.

42. TENNESSEE // VIENNA COFFEE COMPANY

Location: Maryville, Tennessee

Don’t head to Nashville for the state’s best coffee. Take a trip to the Vienna Coffee Company outside of Knoxville. The small-batch roaster has everything from single-origin and estate coffees to certified shade-grown, bird-friendly, Rainforest Alliance-approved, and fair-trade beans. If you aren’t in the area to come by for a free tasting, you can always sign up for their mail-order coffee club.

43. TEXAS // BROWN COFFEE COMPANY

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Brown Coffee is one of San Antonio’s most well-established craft coffee outfits, and even other cafe proprietors admit that owner Aaron Blanco is “the most coffee-knowledgeable person in Texas." In 2015, Food Network star Alton Brown called the drink he got from Brown Coffee "the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life." Beyond the delicious drinks, the PourLab hosts classes for a range of skill levels, from novices looking for basic tips to enthusiasts wanting to learn how to identify the type of soil coffee was grown in just from tasting the brew.

44. UTAH // MILLCREEK COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Over two decades ago, the aptly named Brewster family founded Millcreek Coffee Roasters in a small building with one 12-kilogram roaster. Today they’re a major presence in the Salt Lake City coffee scene with a café, a wholesale store, and an outpost in the city’s airport. Coffee lovers who don’t have time to pick up their beans in person can shop for them online. Millcreek also offers “Roaster’s Choice” coffee subscriptions that are delivered each month by the pound.

45. VERMONT // VERMONT COFFEE COMPANY

Location: Middlebury, Vermont

The folks at Vermont Coffee Company know that good coffee starts with a quality product. That’s why all their beans are carefully selected and slow-roasted to order in small batches. They also know that the coffee experience doesn’t have to end when a customer finishes their cup. They write on their website: “Coffee is a social stimulus that brings people together to share ideas and stories, and when people come together, a community is formed and friends are made.” The company proved their commitment to this concept when they opened a community theater in the neighborhood. If you can’t make it to the Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse or their on-site café, you can find their coffee in establishments along the East Coast.

46. VIRGINIA // CERVANTES COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Springfield, Virginia

Cervantes's single origin coffee is sold in over 40 retail stores in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Java enthusiasts who live near their north Virginia headquarters can swing by for tours or coffee "cupping" (think wine tasting) events every second Friday of the month. The entire coffee warehouse is also available to rent out for private affairs.

47. WASHINGTON // DILLANOS COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Sumner, Washington

In a state as obsessed with coffee as Washington, Dillanos Coffee Roasters has managed to rise to the top. They’ve been recognized as best in the region multiple times, and in 2011 Roast magazine named them the best macro coffee roaster in North America. With dozens of coffees of varying roasts and sources available to purchase, they offer something for every type of coffee connoisseur.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // BLACK DOG COFFEE

Location: Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia

Black Dog’s café in Shenandoah Junction offers coffee and a show. Patrons can come to see one of America’s oldest operating coffee roasters in action—a vintage 1931 Jabez Burns & Sons model named Plutonius. The business also hosts community events like yoga classes, drum circles, and taco Tuesdays. Even without the entertainment factor, a taste of their single origin, micro-roasted coffee is worth a trip (or at least an online order).

49. WISCONSIN // KICKAPOO COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Beer isn’t the only brew in Wisconsin that deserves attention. The team behind Kickapoo Coffee Roasters has been roasting high-quality, full-flavored coffee in Milwaukee since 2005. Once a month, they open up their tasting room for the public to sample offerings, tour the roastery, and ask any coffee-related questions they may have.

50. WYOMING // JACKSON HOLE COFFEE ROASTERS

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters brings a European commitment to coffee to Western Wyoming. Owners Stefan and Lubomira got their start in the coffee business as baristas. They took over Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters after moving to the U.S. from Slovakia, and today they sell their coffee wholesale to restaurants, coffee bars, and specialty stores and serve it fresh at their café.

By Michele Debczak, Kirstin Fawcett, Shaunacy Ferro, Anna Green, Kate Horowitz, Jake Rossen, and Jeff Wells.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

Buy on Amazon.

2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

Buy on Amazon.

3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

Buy on Amazon.

7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
Cost Plus World Market

This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

Buy on Amazon.

9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

Buy on Amazon.

10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

Buy on Amazon.

13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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14 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hollywood Food Stylists
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Hollywood food stylists are little short of magicians—only instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, they’re turning piles of mashed potatoes into ice cream sundaes. Indeed, making food (or food-like products) appear photogenic and appetizing onscreen is a job for a true illusionist. Mental Floss spoke to a few food stylists working in TV, film, and commercials—from Game of Thrones to Taco Bell—to bring you the tricks of their magical trade.

1. MOST OF THE FOOD BEING FILMED IS REAL.

While food stylists are well-versed in the old-school swap tricks—using a pint of white glue to impersonate a glass of milk, for example—those are being phased out. Now, directors want actors to interact with their food, and high-definition camera lenses have made the fake stuff much more obvious. Plastic food props only appear in the background of scenes today, where they're less visible and susceptible to scrutiny.

“I only deal with real food,” says Chris Oliver, who has styled food for movies including Gone Girl (2014) and TV shows such as Seinfeld and Big Little Lies. “You also have to think about how a character would cook something or put a plate together. Realistic food is not all beautiful and perfect. I make ugly food and burnt food, too.”

There’s a trend in commercial food styling to present dishes that are less-than-perfect, too. Shellie Anderson, who styles food ads for clients including Burger King and Ragù, says it’s the consumers who are demanding food look more realistic and therefore more approachable.

“People are tired of seeing something in a TV commercial and then ordering it in a restaurant and it doesn't look the same,” she says. “You don’t want it to look staged anymore. You want a burger to look like the cheese naturally dripped off and landed on the plate.”

2. THEY GO THROUGH A LOT OF FOOD ...

Bowl of strawberry ice cream
iStock

If a food stylist needs one sprig of parsley for a shoot, they’ll often order 10 bunches. They never know what the condition of the parsley is going to be when it arrives from the produce vendor, or if the shoot is going to require more than they originally planned for. Carving a turkey in a scene? That may require two dozen birds if an actor keeps flubbing his line.

“It really depends on how much of a story point the food is and how important the scene is for the director,” Oliver says.

Food stylists usually have relationships with produce vendors, who can look for products with the specific size, shape, and color that stylists need. No bruises or dents, and no frozen lettuce! But stylists can hide those things if they have to.

Ice cream is infamously hard to keep intact because it melts so quickly. Food stylists have been known to replace the scoops with dollops of meringue, which don’t melt, or butter rolled in sugar. Oliver makes her sundaes the day before and sticks them in the freezer, spoons and straws and all. If they freeze rock hard overnight, they can last a few hours on set the next day before being replaced with another sundae lined up in the deep-freeze. Anderson sprays her ice cream with cold spray, an aerosol can of super-chilled gas used for cooling electronics.

3. ... BUT THE FOOD RARELY GOES TO WASTE.

On film and TV shoots, there are rarely leftovers. In fact, good food stylists often compete with the caterers: Actors usually have to eat the food during their scenes, and the crew finishes off the scraps. While shooting a Chinese New Year scene for the show Fresh Off the Boat recently, actress Lucille Soong told Oliver, who was styling that episode, that she was going to skip lunch because she wanted to enjoy eating her food on camera. “That was pretty freaking flattering!” Oliver says.

Because Oliver works on multiple TV shows in a single day, if an item doesn’t get used on set and never comes out of her cooler, she can just take it back to her shop and recycle it for use on another show. If something can’t be used again, she’ll take it home and make salsa or jam. “When it gets really old, I'll just stick it in vodka,” she says.

Commercial shoots tend to have more unused food. Anderson says anything that’s still edible will be given to a food pantry. “I once donated an entire swordfish when we did a commercial for a fish restaurant,” she says. “We never even used it. So I kept it on ice and took it to a men's homeless shelter. They were thrilled to have it.”

4. THEY VALUE FOOD SAFETY.

Another reason food stylists swap out on-camera food so much is because of safety concerns—hot and cold foods need to be kept at certain temperatures that may not be practical on-set. Sushi-grade tuna may be replaced with watermelon, for example, because the fish spoils so easily.

Oliver requires all of her employees to have a food handler’s license. She also only works out of commercial kitchens (including the one on her fully-equipped food styling truck). But not every food styling team does; some prepare food in their homes. “The reason that I get so much work is that everybody knows I'm a chef and I have a real kitchen,” Oliver says. “People trust my food. I’ve done a bunch of movies with Reese [Witherspoon] because she knows that if I’m on set, the food is safe to eat.”

5. WOMEN DOMINATE THE FIELD.

woman styling food
iStock

While there are a few well-known male food stylists, for the most part the key food stylists in the U.S. are women. (Both of Anderson’s daughters are food stylists, too.) The reason for this dates back decades.

Before food styling became its own career in the 1990s, it was up to network employees with home economics degrees (almost always women) to cook on-camera food. Then props departments became responsible. “But props guys can’t even make spaghetti,” Oliver says, laughing. So according to her, these guys would go home and ask their girlfriends or wives to make whatever food was required for the next day’s scene. “Eventually they would just hire their girlfriends or wives to do it; keep the money in the family,” she says. “I know five food stylists who at one time were in relationships with prop masters.”

Also in the 1990s, networks began making more multi-camera TV shows. A lot more food began appearing on screen, and actors openly discussed their dietary restrictions. They were vegan, sugar-free, and low-carb all of a sudden. Oliver trained at the Culinary Institute of America and had worked in restaurants and catering jobs before stumbling into this career. “Because I was a chef, and I understood how food works, I knew how to feed people and make food last on set,” she says. “And I could charge anything I wanted to.”

To get a job as a food stylist today, it helps to know someone already in the industry and have a culinary background. Everyone starts as an intern, and then may be able to work their way up to being an assistant and then a stylist. “Not everybody can be a food stylist,” Anderson says. “You have to be able to cook, but you still have to be creative. And you have to be able to work fast and under pressure.”

6. THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF LOS ANGELES NOW.

Now that movies and TV shows are frequently filmed all over the world, instead of just on sets in Los Angeles, food stylists can be based anywhere. There is a concentration of stylists who live in Vancouver, British Columbia, for example, because that's where many shows are now filmed. Labor laws also often require production crews to hire locally, so residing outside of L.A. can be a real advantage.

Some commercial food stylists, like Anderson, are flown in for shoots. “Food stylists can make or break a commercial,” she says. “And if you have trouble and you don't know what you're doing, it can be a real problem for production.” This is especially true on out-of-the-country shoots, when stylists don't have the resources that they’re used to. So clients who know her and her skill level, such as Taco Bell, will fly her to wherever they're filming.

7. THEY TALK LIKE CHEFS AND FILMMAKERS.

hand styling pancakes
iStock

Food stylists use a mix of back-of-the-house kitchen lingo and film jargon. Some examples: The “hero” is the food that is written into the script, is being shot, and must appear in front of the actor. “Bite and smile” is when an actor takes a bite of food and pretends to like it. “All day” is the total number of items needed; if they needed five turkeys on a set, they would say “five all day.”

8. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO BE IN THE MOVIES.

Food stylists usually specialize in different media: film, TV, commercials, or print editorial. Stylists often prefer one over the other. Print editorial is shot in a controlled studio and tends to have more leeway for creativity. Commercials are tied to a brand’s specifications. Film and TV shoots on location are in unpredictable settings and can be physically demanding. But everyone tends to work long, 12- to 14-hour days. For commercials, it can often take three days to shoot one 30-second spot.

When working on a movie or TV show, the actors’ demands usually take precedence over the food needs. After working on one film, Anderson had had enough and dedicated herself to commercial work. “When I do commercials, the food is the star,” she says. “So [the directors] want to make sure I have everything I need. On a movie, they could care less about you.”

9. FOOD STYLISTS DON’T JUST MAKE FOOD.

Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter on Hannibal
NBC

Sometimes food stylists are expected to create sci-fi props—what would a person eat in the year 3000?—or fantasy items that they have no experience with. While working on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Oliver made gooey, edible slime from her imagination. “I also had to roll with the [actors’] different dietary needs,” she says. “I had to be able to make vegan slime, sugar-free slime, gluten-free slime, gelatin-free slime … Slime, any way you want it.”

Oliver also has to make items that you don’t really want to put in your mouth. While filming the TV show Big Little Lies, she made green-colored vomit for actress Reese Witherspoon of cucumbers and parsley. She says it was tasty, like green gazpacho. For a war film, she had to make 400 pounds of “dirt” for a group of prisoners of war to eat. She got Pakistani soil shipped to California so she could match it exactly. (Her recipe: ground-up Oreos and graham crackers, mixed with brown sugar and white sugar.)

Janice Poon, the food stylist behind the cannibal-centric TV show Hannibal, had a more challenging obstacle: how to make dishes that resembled human flesh. She refused to do research on cannibalism websites, she told HopesAndFears.com, but she studied a lot of anatomy books. “I’m just like Dr. Frankenstein,” Poon said. “I’m always stitching things, exchanging, putting one kind of meat on a different bone, patching stuff together. ... The key is to let the viewer’s imagination do more of your work.” She transformed veal shanks into human legs, and used prosciutto slices to mimic slivers of a human arm.

10. THEY PACK SOME SERIOUS GEAR.

When shooting, stylists need to be prepared for anything. They carry tools including tweezers, scissors, paint brushes, knives, offset spatulas, wet wipes, syringes, rulers, Q-tips, and spritz bottles.

“Think about your kitchen: all of your mixing bowls and utensils … I have that times 10 in my kit,” Anderson says. She also has a torch on hand for quick-cooking burgers and cold spray for extending the life of ice cream. Other stylists may have glycerin for adding shine or Kitchen Bouquet sauce for adding color. Poon often uses a white ceramic knife so she can see what she's doing on dark sets and work more quietly, so as not to disturb the acting process.

Food stylists sometimes work in erratic environments. Oliver brings her own 17-foot, cab-over truck to shoots. “It has a lift gate and everything's on wheels, so I can take everything out and have a kitchen in the middle of the desert, if I want,” she says. Inside, she has a full commercial kitchen: a six-burner stove, refrigerator, microwave, grill, freezer, prep tables, storage, TV, and a generator.

11. THEY’RE SKILLED AT IMPROV.

When production starts, the prop team sends memos to actors or their reps asking about food allergies and dietary restrictions. As trained chefs, most food stylists are happy to accommodate such limitations, cooking convincing swap-outs. “I find out what they will eat and make it happen,” Oliver says.

For example, Poon once made a convincing vegan “raw meat” on Hannibal using only grains. “I made lamb tongues out of bulgur and water,” Poon told HopesAndFears.com. “It’s like making a Lebanese kibbeh. You mix cracked wheat with water and it makes a kind of mush that holds together. The texture is a little 'nubbly,' so I added a pink food coloring, made little tongues out of kibbeh dough, steamed them up, and they were my little lambs’ tongues.”

Sometimes a director changes his or her mind at the last minute, and what was supposed to be a spaghetti dinner, for example, is now a breakfast spread. So the food stylist will squish down the meatballs and turn them into sausage patties. In an interview with NPR, food stylist Melissa McSorley recalled a time when a movie director suddenly decided to cut open a birthday cake she had made. The problem: It wasn’t real.

“So we had to cut the cake that was made out of Styrofoam, and I had to use a saw in order to do it because none of my knives could get through it,” McSorley said. “And then we had to layer in cake so it did look like it was real and then we had to send people scurrying to many markets to find white layer cake so it looked like people in the background could be actually be eating the cake.”

12. THERE’S ALWAYS THE SPIT BUCKET OPTION.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, David Bradley in Game of Thrones
HBO

Professional actors will often pick at the food in front of them, but not eat it because they know their scenes are going to require a lot of takes; they could be eating birthday cake for eight hours straight. Others dive right in. For a scene in The Guilt Trip (2012), actress Barbra Streisand had to pretend she was in a steak-eating contest. Oliver says they went through more than 300 pounds of meat for that scene’s three-day shoot and Streisand was totally game.

“But there’s a part towards the end where she has to eat really quickly and do a line without, you know, choking and dying,” Oliver says. “So I switched out the steak with seared watermelon. She took one bite and it sort of dissolved in her mouth, so she could do her line. If you watch it, and you really listen, you can hear the crunch of the watermelon.”

Sometimes, though, the spit bucket is the only option. In season one of Game of Thrones, the character Daenerys Targaryen had to eat a whole horse heart. But the actress who plays her, Emilia Clarke, actually had to eat 28. They were made of solidified jam, which tasted like “bleach and raw pasta,” she told The Mirror. “It was very helpful to be given something so truly disgusting to eat, so there wasn’t much acting required. Fortunately, they gave me a spit bucket because I was vomiting in it quite often.”

13. SOMETIMES THEY’RE SURPRISED BY THE FINAL PRODUCT.

Food stylists who work on multiple projects at a time, like Oliver, can’t always stick around to see how their food will be used. They may later find out that a gorgeous spread was relegated to the background, or worse. For a scene in Seinfeld, Oliver was once asked to prepare a perfect, glistening turkey. “Later I was home watching the episode and they had put the turkey on Kramer!” she says. “I was literally crying I was laughing so hard. Never in a million years did I think my turkey was going to end up with a guy’s head.”

14. THEY THROW EPIC DINNER PARTIES.

Food stylist preparing vegetables
iStock

You’d think that being around food all day would make food stylists tired of making things look nice. But most food stylists love to cook, and on the days they aren’t working, they love to throw parties. “People always expect to have beautiful food,” Anderson says. “And I don't disappoint.”

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