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Believe it or not, in the 1970s, coffee consumption in America was on the decline. Most people drank coffee from cans purchased at the supermarket, and the roasts were light and bland. In 1962, 74% of American adults regularly drank coffee. By 1988, that number was only 50%. By 1991, coffee consumption had dropped from an average of 3.12 cups per day to just 1.75.

Ben and Jessica Schellack bootstrapped their way to building one of the best roasting operations in the state, this year bringing home a Good Food Award—not their first, either. That's quite the climb from their early days in the rented basement of a New Brunswick non-profit. Today, a lively café, just across the river from Rutgers' Old Queens campus, hence the name, is a hub of creativity.


Over the course of the year, we reviewed fewer than a dozen darker roasts. Most were medium-dark at best; some barely that. The majority of darker roasts we reviewed were sent by roasters in Taiwan and most were espressos, reflecting both the time-honored espresso practice of emphasizing chocolate and sweetness through moderate dark roasting, as well as, perhaps, a preference in Taiwan for more traditional styles of espresso as opposed to the lighter-roasted, brighter style of espresso now popular with the leading edge of North American roasters.

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