There may be no global ritual more ingrained as a habit than that of drinking coffee. No matter how or when you consume it, chances are you've spent years honing your practice -- complete with a strong physical need and an emotional connection to match.
But the coffee culture you once knew has undergone tremendous changes over the last decade, upending your daily routine with new brands, a specific language, philosophy and taxonomy -- and, of course, a more expensive price tag.
Welcome to coffee's third wave. Here, check out the 7 cult coffee shops taking the quotidian to new heights. —Sasha Levine
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See More Cult Coffee Shops In 2008—way before the specialty-coffee-wave hit Dublin—Collin Harmon gave up his job in investment banking to dedicate his life to coffee. After finding success with his first 3FE (Third Floor Espresso) shop, located in the lobby of a nightclub, Harmon opened a place of his own in 2011. Just a few years later, with its in-house tastings, training courses, exclusive distributions of London’s Has Bean Coffee, wholesale arm and new roastery business, the award-winning 3FE represents more than a good cup of joe. But the menu, divided into “drinking” (traditional orders) and “tasting” (full-blown experiences), proves that delivering the best is still top priority. The Trio, for example, lets you sample the same beans brewed as an espresso, a cappuccino and a filtered coffee, while the Filter Tasting presents two different coffees side by side for comparison. At 32/34 Lwr Grand Canal St.; 3fe.com. Photo: © Courtesy of 3fe coffee Ltd.
See More Cult Coffee Shops Equal parts café, men’s boutique (Orlebar Brown, Pierre Hardy) and cocktail bar, Maison Ikkoku boasts a trifecta of cool. On the first floor, pretty young things socialize on rows of chesterfield benches, sipping a variety of Singapore’s best brews. Try one of the seven specialty methods, including siphon (vacuum processed for more acidity and a lighter body), Chemex (filter brewed for clean flavors and “tea-like viscosity”), cold drip (brewed in cold water overnight for rich, fruity flavors), Hario V60 pour over (filtered through paper for well-rounded flavors and a velvety mouthfeel), French press (not as clarified but bigger in body), Woodneck (filtered through a nylon “sock” to highlight mellow acidity) and AeroPress (a brew using gentle air pressure that softens bitterness, highlights natural sweetness and offers a thick body without grit)—all of which are endemic to the third-wave movement. What’s more, award-winning Japanese latte-art specialist Hiroshi Sawada trained the baristas, whose unique designs pair nicely with the store’s overall attention to aesthetics. At 20 Kandahar St.; 65/6294-0078; maison-ikkoku.net. Photo: © Wynnie Kwok
See More Cult Coffee Shops “Coffee Collective has been pushing the envelope of specialty coffee for many years,” says field expert Matthew Perger, consigliere at Melbourne’s St. Ali and Sensory Lab. That accolade includes its first-rate methods of preparing espresso and filter coffees, its use of small-batch roasters from around the world and its progressive direct-trade agreements with coffee farmers, whose beans the Collective also roasts and sells. The no-frills shops (three throughout the city), headed up by Peter N. Dupont, Klaus Thomsen and Casper E. Rasmussen, are considered the locus of Scandinavian independent coffee culture. At Jægersborggade 10; 45-60/151-525; coffeecollective.dk. Photo: © Courtesy of The Coffee Collective
See More Cult Coffee Shops What started as a six-month pop-up residency at SQIRL (a local jam shop) has transformed into a burgeoning brand, founded by industry leaders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski. In 2013 the pair—both U.S. Barista Champions and former Intelligentsia Coffee employees—opened their first permanent space, G&B, in Downtown’s Grand Central Market. A month later, they added Go Get Em Tiger in Larchmont. While different in scale and energy—the former is about experimentation, the latter (as the cheeky name suggests), about the java—both shops channel the more social ethos of Italian espresso bars rather than the wait-in-line shuffle of Starbucks. Using roasters from around the world, G&B includes expertly crafted pour-over specialty coffees and espressos, as well as more playful drinks, like ice-cream-coffee shakes. At 317 S. Broadway; gandbcoffee.com. Photo: © Amparo Rios
See More Cult Coffee Shops As longtime leaders in the specialty coffee movement, and one of the original Direct Trade companies in the United States, Intelligentsia Coffee opened its first shop in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in 1995. Just last spring, the in-store coffee roaster and retailer gave the location its first major facelift in nearly 18 years, doubling its seating and adding a second marble-topped bar in the back. Now, with 11 cafés and four training labs from Chicago to New York, Los Angeles to Atlanta, Intelligentsia has trained some of the best baristas in the country—including the team behind Los Angeles’s G&B—while its beans power coffee programs at places like Eleven Madison Park, Third Rail Coffee and Joe. Look out for the single-origin coffees (from farms in places like Rwanda and Bolivia), housemade blends, Black Cat Project espresso and the super-fresh “In Season” beans, which are all sold and prepared less than nine months from harvest. At 3123 N. Broadway; 773-348-8058; intelligentsiacoffee.com. Photo: © Andy Wickstrom, Intelligentsia Coffee
See More Cult Coffee Shops The man behind this eponymous coffee shop and micro-roastery may be one of the biggest names in coffee. World-renowned for his outspoken stance on origin farming practices (he cofounded Nordic Approach, which imports green—i.e., not yet roasted—coffee from farmers across the globe), he’s also known for his advancement of the lighter, more divisive Scandinavian style of roasting. The practice, which produces fruitier, acidic qualities, isn’t always preferred over the nutty, caramel and chocolate flavors of the ubiquitous dark roasts. Still, everyone can agree that the approach is helping to push coffee in new directions. Wendelboe’s lone shop is spare (five chairs, a wood-paneled bar, roasting equipment) and focused (no food is served), making it quite likely that the master himself will be making whichever craft cup of coffee you choose. At Grünersgate 1; 47/4000-4062; timwendelboe.no. Photo: © Anders Valde
See More Cult Coffee Shops With a café culture that’s been ahead of the global curve for some time, Melbourne could—at least at one point—be considered the capital of coffee’s third wave. But what makes Everyday Coffee stand out from the formidable pack (including the world-famous St. Ali, Proud Mary and Market Lane) is that it is one of very few spots in all of Australia championing the cause for filtered coffee. While Melbourne has been celebrated for its espresso-focused practices for years (it’s famous for popularizing the flat white, after all), the city is just warming up to pour-overs and batch brews. “Drinking coffee at Everyday is like watching a barometer for this city’s coffee industry,” adds coffee expert Matthew Perger of the aforementioned St. Ali. He also touts the place for its multi-roaster practices (still a city rarity), which allow baristas to offer a rotating menu that matches beans (often from local roasters like Seven Seeds, Code Black and Small Batch) to the best method of extraction. At 33 Johnston St.; 61-3/9973-4159; everyday-coffee.com. Photo: © Anders Valde
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