For the nearly 30 years I've lived here I've seen many coffee purveyors/roasters come and go but there's some things that remain the same. Anderson & Co. remains the king of the hill, though there are some places that come close to being as good. Ruta Maya in particular comes to mind--I especially give them props for dark roasting their Central American coffees.
One other thing that hasn't changed is that there always seems to be at least one local company that not only roasts beans but offers a maintenance deal to coffee shops and restaurants that buy their beans. Ten years ago I noticed that Texas Coffee Traders was pervasive in the scene. Now, it seems to be Cuvee. I am rather surprised by the situation, in part because the coffees themselves don't stand up quality wise. Especially galling is when coffee shops use a light roast (typically a Viennese type roast) for espresso. I like a bit of experimentation. I like that many micro-breweries do things like make a dark lager, for example. But I've never once tasted a light roast coffee that works for espresso. Maybe that's just because that's what Italians (who invented the process) use? Every coffee shop I've been to in Europe used a dark roast for their espresso--same goes for Turkish coffee (another fine grind).
The problem is clearly one with the coffee shops (or restaurants) themselves. Cuvee produces some very excellent dark roasted coffees which I've had, same territory as Anderson's and Ruta Maya--it makes me serious wonder why coffee shops go with the light roast. My guess is it probably has something to do with the wholesale price? Though, when I worked in a coffee shop ten years ago that at the time bought their beans from Texas Coffee Traders, I found out that TCT's wholesale price was only slightly higher (something on the order of 5 cents/lb.) than Anderson's. Talk about penny wise pound foolish.
Texas Coffee Traders
1400 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702
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