Suppose you are a member of the clear majority of Americans choosing to drink coffee every day, and have been for a very long time—longer than very good coffee has been widely available in this country, before the women and men now serving it to you were old enough (mostly) to drink the stuff, or perhaps even born. Today’s bright, often beautiful coffee landscape can be, well, the tiniest bit overwhelming. In your day, you got out of bed in the morning, and you drank the stuff. Suddenly, it’s a lifestyle.
While I have been an enthusiastic fan of coffee and coffee culture from that first moment of awakening, I came to Food & Wine’s Best Coffee in Every State project back in 2017 as a mildly bewildered consumer, my nose somewhat out of joint over the way things had evolved—coffee suddenly seemed so complex, and everything was moving so quickly; one by one, the places that were supposedly the best were being absorbed into major corporations, while others appeared content to slouch into mediocrity.