This guy's coffee is THE BEST, and at an unbelievable price. How can you go wrong with expertly roasted beans, done locally, by a great guy, at a price point lower than most retailers. Small is beautiful! Just got 1.5 pounds yesterday, including an unique and complex ethiopean bean! Totally Irie, as Eric would say.
BEST-VALUE COFFEE ROASTER - 2009
Usually you smell Alana's before you see it. Hints of cocoa, berries and hot beans waft through the air, leading your nose to a small stand at the farmers market where 34-year-old Eric Stogsdill completes his wares on the spot with a hand-built roaster. His tastes tend toward Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and Ethiopia. He describes his favorite beans like a kid in a candy store: "I prefer more nutty, blueberry and chocolaty coffees," Stogsdill says. The Santa Monica native got his start at Starbucks before graduating to Cow's End near Venice Pier. He also spent two years getting mentoring and advice from the master roaster at the Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa in Culver City. Spying opportunities at local farmers markets, Stogsdill this year launched Alana's, named for his 4-year-old daughter, as a roving operation that also provides free home delivery. What sets Alana's apart from his vast, high-end competition is price. You get a gourmet product, a custom, on-the-spot grind, and a little education from the ever-enthusiastic Stogsdill for about $10 per pound. His hand-stamped, brown-bag finds — his selections often change from week to week — will also fill your pantry will olfactory bliss.—Dennis Romero