How the Brew Gets There

1. Sorenson pays farmers more per pound than most buyers to ensure he gets the best beans. That means no immature coffee cherries, which can cause bitterness.

2. Before purchasing a lot, Sorenson “cups” (coffee jargon for tastes) small roasted batches. “Basically,” he says, “you’re looking for something you can drink a whole fucking pot of.”

3. Instead of blending beans from many lots, Sorenson primarily batches micro lots from a single farm. Bags are labeled with the farm the bean was grown on and its particular varietal (i.e., Finca El Puenta farm, Bourbon).

4. The beans are browned in Stumptown’s vintage cast-iron Probat roasters. They expand and pop, forming distinct flavor profiles.

5. No more than two days after roasting, beans are shipped out; per Stumptown’s rules, they must be consumed within fourteen days. Only cafés with the right equipment—for instance, a La Marzocco espresso machine—and obsession with quality are deemed suitable.

6. Baristas are trained to pull a perfect shot. An espresso shot must be pulled in 23 to 27 seconds lest it taste either watery or burnt.

7. Milk isn’t just warmed, says Sorenson: “It has to be texturized into something velvety, like wet paint.” Every milk drink gets topped with a flourish, like a rosette. It has no effect on the taste, but it enhances the experience.

Duane Sorenson, the New Messiah
A Taste Test Against New York’s Reigning Roasts
Interactive Map: Where to Find It

How the Brew Gets There