2. Stumptown Coffee Roasters
The indie-roaster superstar Duane Sorenson, the man behind Portland's Stumptown, has built a reputation as a cocky, publicity-friendly rebel. But he backs up his bluster, dropping more than $100 on occasion for an exceptional pound of beans, auditioning café owners who want to serve his goods, and even setting up a charity to provide bikes to Rwandan farmers to make sure they get those precious cherries to the mill in double-quick time. (503-230-7797, stumptowncoffee.com)

3. Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company
Seattle was the cradle of this country's biggest coffee revolution—the birthplace of Starbucks. But the Goliath didn't intimidate small-and-proud Zoka, which has relied on quick turnaround to carve out its niche. Owner Jeff Babcock buys top-notch, sustainably grown coffee beans and gets them into customers' hands hours after they're roasted. (866-965-2669, zokacoffee.com)

4. Intelligentsia Coffee
Head buyer Geoff Watts was one of the earliest practitioners of direct trade: He helps farmers grow better beans by holding tastings with them in Peru and Kenya to communicate exactly what he wants from the finished product—and compensating growers when they outdo themselves. In the process, he's burned through two passports. (888-945-9786, intelligentsiacoffee.com)

5. Terroir
George Howell was stamping his bags with roasted-on dates in 1975, when America was still hopped up on Folgers, and he's had his hand in almost every major development in the java realm since—most notably cofounding the Cup of Excellence, a sort of coffee Olympics that connects stellar farms with the fanatics willing to pay premium prices. Now Howell runs Massachusetts-based Terroir, which continues to push the envelope by serving only single-farm varieties—so no Breakfast Blend here. (866-444-5282, terroircoffee.com)

In Praise of Diner Coffee
The fact that it doesn't elicit rhapsodic talk about floral notes and syrupy body is exactly what makes diner coffee so satisfying: It isn't intended to inspire anything other than the lifting of heavy eyelids. Bottomless cups of slightly scalded drip—either saved from bitterness by sugar and milk or taken, as was Agent Dale Cooper's in Twin Peaks, "black as midnight on a moonless night"—have helped you face too many long days (and shake off too many long nights) to be forsaken entirely. So while the artfully executed stuff is recommended for most occasions, keep this in mind: You don't reach for vintage Bordeaux when you just need to get drunk.