Best Of 2004

Best Coffee: Goshen Coffee Company

Coffee is the defining beverage of our generation. Thick, rich, sexy, hot, brown coffee, the kind you want to swim in. Oh java! Whether cut with half-and-half, soy milk, two-percent, Sucanat, Sweet'N Low or taken in its unadulterated form, the brown dragon has in the past decade both fueled an economic boom and softened its bust. Who'd have thunk in 1990 that St. Louis could support a competitive coffee-roasting market? The owners of Goshen Coffee roast their beans in the confines of their Edwardsville, Illinois, home. "We're pretty grassroots about it," says Matt Herrin, who, along with wife Debbie, operates Goshen. They schooled themselves in the Seattle area, where they were one of 40 roasters in a 70-square-mile radius. They're not as ubiquitous as some other area roasters, mainly because they prefer catering to individuals rather than restaurants, many of which are more concerned with bottom line. "To them it's a product, it's not a craft," says Matt. "It's something they serve at the end of their meal and charge a buck and a quarter. We're insanely passionate about coffee." We particularly adore Goshen's Black Dog Espresso Blend, one of 30 different varieties -- from single-origins to blends and decafs -- they cook up. Steeped in a French press, Black Dog produces a velvety nectar akin to a European roast, without much acidity, and hints of deep, deep chocolate. It'll make your day. Serve it with some Goshen bread -- their cinnamon-raisin loaf will rock your world, and it yields the best French toast in history. Goshen beans and loaves may be procured at the Maplewood farmer's market, the Edwardsville farmer's market and a few east-side wine stores. Track 'em down -- you won't be sorry.

Previous Winners