Plus, it's officially fall now, and there are a lot of things we could say about this being a time for less beer and partying, more coffee and working. But do we really need an excuse to take an obsessive look at local coffee? Of course not. If we have it our way, you'll never have to set foot in a Dunkin Donuts again.
Besides boasting literally the most straightforward name possible, the Brooklyn Roasting Company has all the social responsibility cred a conscientious addict could ever hope for: their beans are all Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Organic certified from the outset. They're then put through multiple rounds of taste testing, roasted with recycled equipment, and transported with clean energy sources before arriving in the company's DUMBO cafe. So ethical (and delicious) that it almost hurts. Almost.
Since opening in 2003 Oslo has quickly become one of Williamsburg's cornerstone businesses (they have two locations in the neighborhood), establishing itself as an essential pilgrimage for any dyed-in-the-wool coffee fanatic. They also keep things environmentally friendly, offering up coffee chaff — the run-off that results from the roasting process — for all your local composting needs.
Oslo is nothing if not consistent, with a reliable stable of both house and seasonal roasts on hand, and even their decaf blend is meticulously selected. If that isn't a labor of love, we don't know what is.
Stumptown may have come to us by way of Portland and Seattle, but between its Red Hook plant and the fact that their beans have showed up in just about every self-respecting coffee place we can think of, they've more than earned their spot on this list.
Every single one of their blends is guaranteed to leave you pleasantly wired, but there's no better place to start than with their classic Hair Bender beans. This one's nothing short of essential.
Between their fastidiously roasted beans — sold to customers no more than 48 hours after roasting — and delightfully elaborate equipment — a Japanese slow-drip machine that painstakingly doles out iced coffee (see above) — their Berry St. cafe has everything both a coffee snob or a casual addict could ever ask for. Did we mention their pastry menu? It's just as serious as their coffee, if such a thing is possible.
Toby's, a new but hugely popular addition to Williamsubrg's coffee options, is the singular vision of founder Toby Smith, who cut his teeth working on coffee plantations in Brazil and Guatemala before honing his roasting technique in his native Australia. The company has proved to be hugely popular worldwide, and finally came stateside last winter, opening its shop and roastery in a former meatpacking factory, of course.
Aside from obsessively selected beans, Toby's also stands out for Australian specialties like the Flat White, a cappuccino-like marriage of espresso and textured milk, without the foam.
Before Williamsburg fashioned itself as the coffee capitol of the entire borough, this Park Slope favorite rose to dominance and has more or less stayed there ever since. A decade after opening, Gorilla is easily one of the longest-running and most visible staples in our exploding coffee scene, with organic, Fair Trade beans sold all over the city alongside their ubiquitous mugs and shirts.
More recently, the company had little trouble bouncing back from a contentious period in 2010, when nearly the entire staff of baristas quit over conflicts with one of the owners. Since then they've quietly resolved tensions, consistently sending staff out to conferences to keep up with roasting techniques, and even sending a company bike team on a ride through the Colorado Rockies. Aww.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.