Welcome to the Third Annual presentation of the Sprudgie Awards. For the first time ever we've written a brief explanation for each award. We've also combined categories and added a few as well – you can refresh your memory by looking back at our past winners here. In the future we dream of a star-studded gala, complete with red carpet coverage, schticky entertainment, and a Sprudgie buzz nomination process. But for now, without further ado, here are your Sprudgie Award winners for 2011.
Verve Coffee Roasters (Santa Cruz, California)
2011 was a year of precipitous growth for Colby Barr, Chris Baca, Jared Truby and the rest of Verve, during which they opened an impressive new headquarters and a stunning showcase cafe, both in Santa Cruz. Loved regionally, darlings internationally, we point to their relationship coffees as especially laudable, including the Costa Rica Cafetin, produced by Tim O'Brien, and the Panama Elida, produced by Wilford Lamastus. Do not sleep on Verve Coffee Roasters in 2012 – their coffees just keep getting better.
Best New Cafe
Milstead & Co. (Seattle, WA)
Milstead & Co. is not yet perfect – but it's safe to say they're courting perfection. Thanks to their exhaustively considered set of daily offerings, Andrew Milstead and his staff have figured out how to present the multi-roaster concept in a way that is both deeply learned and fun. Milstead & Co. is bursting with talent and promise, armed with an enviable cache of gear and a steadily growing clientele. Some truly special coffees pass in and out the doors each day.
This award goes to the 15 million smallholder farmers represented by the ECX, a contentious three year old system that forsakes transparency for collectivization.
Best New Product
Craft Coffee subscription service (Brooklyn, NY)
Subscription coffee services are nothing new, but Brooklyn's Craft Coffee may have perfected the art. The very act of opening your Craft Coffee box is a joy, the packaging artful, delicate and neat. The coffees selected therein are consistently surprising, unexpected, and splendid. There's some magic in the air at Craft Coffee.
Best Coffee Writing
Oliver Strand, Ristretto – New York Times Style Magazine, “The Moment”
Ristretto is obviously very important for specialty coffee, by virtue of where it's published; in terms of readership and voice, no other platform can compare. So it is a blessing, then, that Oliver Strand's column is actually quite a lot of fun. His coffee tours of Oslo, Tokyo, Los Angeles and elsewhere make for joyful required reading. Watch for a book from Mr. Strand in 2012.
Trevor Fife, “Kenya”, Stumptown Coffee Roasters
This moving short film takes the viewer to Nyeri, focusing on the Ngunguru Factory in the Tekangu Cooperative Society and Gaturiri factory in the Barichu Cooperative Society. We cried, and we're not the only ones.
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence
Marcus Boni, SCAA
Since being named Senior Events Manager for the SCAA in 2008, no one has done more to organize and promote specialty coffee than Marcus Boni. Watching the man work is a wonderful blur; Marcus is always ready with answers, seemingly in a thousand places at once, and he does it all with an infectious grin and a delightful sense of humor. Fun, funny, smart and wonderfully one of a kind – we're proud to honor Marcus for all he does for the specialty coffee community.