Best Of 2003

Best Coffee: Shaw's Coffee

Shaw's Coffee presents those jonesing for St. Louis' best cup of joe with a true coffee mecca. Instead of bulk bins of pre-roasted beans lining the walls, a roaster dominates the richly accented main room, attesting to the management's dedication to providing the freshest coffee for its discerning clientele. Using green beans imported from the world's principal growing regions, roasters draw out the flavors characteristic of their origins, creating more than twenty roasts in all. (Our favorites lie in the Pacific Rim family, especially Sulawesi and Sumatra). Per-pound prices range from $9 to $11, unless you want to special-order the 100 percent organic Guatemalan Swiss-water decaf at $13. (Twelve other roasts, including three house blends, are available in decaf at the lower rates). The batches, limited to 25 pounds, go straight from roaster to freezer to guarantee freshness, and they seldom linger long in the cold, thanks to dedicated patrons. The result is nothing short of fabulous. Cups brewed on site taste gratifyingly rich, and beans (ground there or taken home whole) replicate their rich aromas and tastes. Shaw's is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. Coming soon: light breakfast and lunch to accompany the fabulous brews.

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