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Sep 15, 2010 01:58 PM

Coffee Roaster in ABQ

Hello coffee hounds. Can you recommend a good roaster in ABQ? Preferably one that makes good espresso as well. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Satellite Coffee is the only local place I specifically know about in ABQ, a small chain affiliated with Flying Star. Their coffee is fine, if a little non-descript.

    Ohori's up in Santa Fe has a great reputation, but I frankly think they're somewhere between mediocre and atrocious, brutally and clumsily overroasting their beans so far that everything tastes exactly the same (ie burnt beyond recognition).

    Far and away the best coffee and espresso I've had in New Mexico has been at the Grove in Albuquerque. The Intelligentsia beans aren't roasted locally, but they are absolutely wonderful. They brew their coffee well, pull a terrific espresso, and actually know how to steam milk properly. All the food except, ironically, the NM-style stuff, is outstanding as well.

    Satellite Coffee
    2201 Louisiana Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

    1. While it isn't exactly local [Durango] Desert Sun Coffee Roasters has some fabulous coffee and they sell online.

      We are fans of their Black Velvet and Sunrise Espresso. They are organic and Fair Trade too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DebitNM

        Thanks have already made our long awaited trip substantially better. Let me know if I can ever give you recs for NE FLA.

      2. The original roaster for Ohori's is on her own, selling very darkly roasted beans in a billion varieties at Moon's Coffee & Tea on Juan Tabo.
        - Michael Thomas Coffee
        - Satellite is OK
        - Fat Boy Coffee Roasters (and Fat Boy Cafe) in Cedar Crest

        Fat Boy Cafe
        12220 State Highway 14 N, Cedar Crest, NM 87008

        1 Reply
        1. re: tenacity

          What are the Michel Thomas and Fat Boy coffees like? Light roast vs. dark, single origin vs. blends, etc? Do you have a favorite?

          Fat Boy Cafe
          12220 State Highway 14 N, Cedar Crest, NM 87008

        2. Whitings Coffee on Osuna west of I-25 has been a mecca for coffee lovers for years and years. Not only is the coffee excellent but their prices are reasonable as well. I've tried Moon's but I think Whitings is superior

          5 Replies
          1. re: deI

            Does this still exist? I've tried to find it a couple of times to no avail. Address when I googled was 3700 Osuna which is a huge office park. I drove around but no Whitings.

            1. re: jjdot

              I just called and they are closed today [open Tues through Sat]. Those office parks have lots of places tucked away, so they must be there, just hard to find.

            2. re: deI

              We had bought coffee from Whitings for many years based on rec's from friends who were UNM grad students. Although we live in Illinois, we had nothing but the best service from Whitings having coffee shipped to us. The only reason we switched is that one of us no longer drinks coffee so we seldom buy any for home and only buy a pound every 2-3 months.

              1. re: LikestoEatout

                Well, I found it.Whitings that is. It shouldn't have been that hard, it's right at the front of the office park. It is a small, dark storefront though. If there is a truck parked there it could be easy to miss.

                I was expecting them to be all about coffee but when I walked in I saw that if they had many of my favorite things: imported pastas, imported chocolate and the best tea selection I've seen in a while. They also have a lot of tea and coffee accessories and implements. A great little store. I got a pound of coffee which they custom blended after asking me my preferences. I've been drinking it for a few days now and it's dark and smooth and yummy. The price was a little higher than Satellite but still reasonable. Very nice people at the shop. I will be back.

                Please note it's cash or check only!

                1. re: jjdot

                  I grabbed a pound of coffee from Whitings recently too. Certainly not terrible, but I didn't especially love it either. The coffee wasn't murdered the way Ohori's is, but I still found it a little burnt and indelicate. This isn't a question of the style of roast; you can do a darker roast and still have it be smooth (Peet's on a good day, for example). But it takes, among other factors, low heat and a very watchful eye.

                  On the plus side, it's a great little local business, they're really friendly, and with a lot of their beans clocking in under $10/pound, the value is pretty good. My houndly ABQ-raised wife says they're also one of the best spots in the state for loose leaf tea.

            3. I'm on my way to ABQ this fall and also in search of great local roasters especially those that do single origins, microlots, and notable espresso. Did you come across any in your recent travels?

              16 Replies
              1. re: GuinnessGuy

                Glad you revived this thread, I've been meaning to follow up.

                Michael Thomas is certainly the best roaster I've found in town. Unfortunately they still roast almost all of their coffee to a full city or beyond, but they do have a few lighter roasts as well. The espresso isn't swoony good, but it's respectable enough (they at least have a legit machine and staff who know what they're doing). One way or another, I really love the space, laid-back and cool with lots of outdoor seating; fun hodgepodge of distinctive coffee cups and saucers too. I have a buddy from Seattle who says Michael Thomas is the place that most reminds him of the good smaller coffeehouses back home.

                Haven't been to Fat Boy yet, but it's on the list.

                1. re: finlero

                  Thanks for the follow-up and comments. Sounds like a "legit" espresso machine is tough to come by in ABQ. Too bad. Nice to hear your Seattle friend recommend Michael Thomas. I'm also from the NW so we're probably in sync.

                  1. re: GuinnessGuy

                    The reviews above are on target. But one of the best cafés, and certainly the very best espresso in ABQ, isn't mentioned because they don't roast. Café Giuseppe on Silver in Nob Hill has a great atmosphere and the staff are very well trained on espresso. One could quibble about the beans and blends used, but truly, it's very good. they proudly feature their Victoria Arduino lever machine, and are adamant that it represents the only "real" way to make espresso. I disagree, but I'm happy to enjoy the results of their passion. Discounts if you ride your bike. The owner partnership just split--one of them left for California--so I have no idea if quality will change, but it seems to be going strong, and recently expanded its seating.

                    Michael Thomas has a really great feel to it, and the coffee is good, but my experience with their espresso was hit or miss. Still, definitely worth a stop, even though they're out of the way (but very close to the airport in a nearby residential neighborhood).

                    The Grove has smashingly good food, and their Intelligentsia brewed coffee is absolutely killer. You can'r get better brewed coffee for a few states. It rotates through blends and single origins. Beans are there for sale. Atmosphere is well designed, and a bit shi-shi-suburb. Their espresso is usually well made, but, especially given Intelligentsia's excellent and well-deserved reputation with espresso, the Grove's iteration is best described as "pretty good."

                    Just a couple blocks past the grove is a place that I can't fully recommend, but have a soft spot for. It seems a little like they would have been at the top of the industry in 1996, but haven't kept up. Still, they have a truly charming courtyard, coffee is acceptable, and the fruit salad served with sandwiches and wraps is bountiful and remarkably arranged. Their pastries--made on site as far as I can tell--are also nice, if not as sophisticated as the Grove's lavender and lemon madelines.

                    Satellite Coffee is the café version of the Flying Star restaurants. They are big, well designed with an eye towards fun, and the food is very good. They could save money getting stuff out of freezer bags off the Sysco truck, but instead they feature local ingredients. They grew out of the locally famous Double Rainbow Café of Nob Hill. I like their food plenty (at the Flying Star, Satellite is mostly prepack sandwiches, burritos, pastries). But their coffee is almost always a tad too bright for me. Satellite Coffees have good machines (Nuovo Simonellis in most locations, I think) and well trained baristas, but their blend just isn't quite to my taste. More subjective than objective. Flying Stars use sperautomatic machines, and while I often have an americano after my meal, if I'm just getting coffee, I'd go to a Satellite location--of Café Giuseppe or Michael Thomas, of course.

                    I recently had coffees from both roasters in Durango, and Dessert Sun was very nice, but they roast a tad on the light side for my taste. They almost never go into second crack, meaning City roast is about as dark as most things go. I preferred Durango Coffee Co., though I don't believe he has a café, just wholesale to area businesses. Single Origins and espresso were not dark by any means--no roast flavor to speak of, but just dark enough to stave off excessive brightness.

                    Whitings was a nice atmosphere but I didn't like their coffee, and the same but more so can be said of Winning's, which is across the street from UNM, and from a Satellite location. (Inside is a very punk-rock college bareness. I would have loved it, but the coffee I had had major taste defects from the bean, and it was so bad I left rapidly so no one would see me dump it out after three sips.)

                    I haven't made it to Fat Boy.

                    The coffee roasted in Santa Fe is abysmal.

                    Flagstaff has a very pleasant atmosphere in Macy's with trained staff, though the coffee is definitely on the dark side. Too dark for my preference, but done well, regardless.

                    1. re: MatG

                      I've now tried Fat Boy. It's OK, if a little burnt, certainly far from bad.

                      I've had the occasional off experience at Cafe Giuseppe, but agree, when it's on, it is ON.

                      The Coffee House up in Los Alamos turns out to be a pretty decent roaster too, with adequate craft when it comes to pulling espresso, a pretty nice place to sit, a decent food menu, and miserable crap in the pastry case.

                      1. re: MatG

                        "Dessert Sun was very nice, but they roast a tad on the light side for my taste. They almost never go into second crack, meaning City roast is about as dark as most things go."

                        It's" Desert" Sun and I really beg to differ that they don't do a dark roast. Their Black Velvet is exactly that: dark, rich and smooth.

                        1. re: DebitNM

                          It's true, and the Black Velvet was my favorite of their coffees. It wasn't too dark, it was just right and very tasty. But I had two more blends and an Ethiopian. All were very good, but lighter than I care for.

                          1. re: MatG

                            We haven't really tried too many of their other beans - why mess with perfection??

                        2. re: MatG

                          Love the long detailed review MatG! Unfortunately I didn't get to try much coffee in ABQ except for Golden Crown Bakery which was supposed to have not just great coffee (NOT... and from Seattle's Best no less!) and great pizza (just fine).
                          Santa Fe was indeed very disappointing but I did really like the espresso at Holy Spirit Espresso (Seattle's Cafe d'Arte beans).

                          1. re: GuinnessGuy

                            My favorite espresso in New Mexico is Holy Spirit Espresso, hands down. Second place is Giuseppe. Third place is.... no one. But I ought to check out Michael Thomas again.

                            1. re: tenacity

                              While you are at Giuseppe, be sure to have gelato -they have the BEST! Maybe a nice Affogato al Cafe~

                              1. re: DebitNM

                                I live in Santa Fe, and quite often i buy Aroma Coffee which at least is advertised as roasted in Santa Fe. It is on the dark side, but with out leaving you with the feeling of licking an ashtray (yep, OHori's again), and I actually find it quite good. Up there with Peet's.
                                Last time I inquired, Ecco in downtown Santa Fe brewed with Aroma as well.
                                I rarely see Aroma mentioned, though - here or anywhere - and I'm left feeling a little like a hipster who goes to Starbucks, orders a caramel soy latté and thinks he is a true aficionado.
                                Am I missing something?

                                1. re: PaulNM

                                  I have never heard of nor seen Aroma. Which do you like? I will keep an eye out for them.

                                  Hubby goes to Durango once a month and buys Black Velvet when he's there. I can get some for anyone who wants some.

                                  1. re: PaulNM

                                    I like Aroma pretty well. Since they seem to focus on wholesale distribution, I think they're a little less well known.

                                    I've had their coffee at SF Baking Co., I remember it as good, but it's been a while, I'll have to try again. They roast pretty dark, certainly past 2nd crack, which is a little past my ideal preference, but that certainly doesn't mean it ain't good.

                                    I've also seen Aroma at some local grocery stores, including Albertsons.

                                    1. re: finlero

                                      I believe they have Aroma at La Montanita in the North Valley.

                                      Thank you for the original tip about Michael Thomas, Finlero. Really a great place. The medium roast Ethiopian we got there was terrific.

                                      1. re: ninrn

                                        Thanks, although credit where credit is due: it was tenacity's tip above that steered me there in the first place. :)

                                        1. re: finlero

                                          Ah, yes, I see. I didn't see this thread until after it was revived in 2011, and I missed that. Thank you, Tenacity.