America’s Best Boutique Coffees. Forbes offers a glimpse at some of the best indy coffee shops around.

Even though Starbucks, in its fight to retain customers, today unveiled a new brewing strategy and an inaugural blend called Pike Place Roast, most coffee snobs argue that the best java is found at small cafes where each cup is painstakingly crafted. Often tucked away in neighborhoods outside of a city’s financial district, these shops can be difficult to get to for a business traveler, but aficionados say it’s a worthwhile trip.

So where are these boutiques? Well, the article is rather sketchy in that department but if you dig enough you’ll find a link to a spiffy photo gallery of a number of the usual suspects, and some you may not be familiar with.

The SCAA gets its green on. The 20th Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference, this year in be-skywayed downtown Minneapolis, Minn, is making its 2008 conference its greenest ever. Sure, it’s easy enough to collect carbon-offset fees in the conference pricing… but the list of earth-friendly efforts with a more immediate impact is pretty impressive, and includes:

  • The elimination of paper hand-outs for more than 100 lectures and labs.
  • Food and beverages served with re-useable dishware and cutlery, as well as recyclable cups, whenever possible.
  • Metal scraps and light bulbs recycled and 100 percent green cleaning products utilized.
  • Food and beverages locally grown, in-season and organic, whenever possible.
  • Food waste sent from the convention center to a hog farm for use as animal feed, and nonperishable, unopened food products donated to a local homeless shelter.

That‘s leading by example. On paper (recycled, natch) I’m impressed, while it remains to be seen how it all works out on the convention floor. I’ll keep an eye out. And maybe I’ll see you there!

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