- Large chain locations that roast their own coffee at one or more central facilities. Think Starbuck's, Peet's, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Tully's, etc.
- Small independent cafés -- a single location or relatively small handful of shops -- that roast their own coffee and focus on high-end quality. Think Espresso Vivace, Ritual, Intelligentsia, Artigiano, Stumptown, etc.
- Independent, individual locations -- again, a single location or relatively small number -- that use someone else's coffee(s). Think of all the places that use coffee from Peerless, or (e.g.) Ninth St. Espresso which proudly proclaims on their website "Ninth Street Espresso serves coffee exclusively from Stumptown Roasters."
So my question is this: has anyone been to a "Category Three" location and enjoyed an espresso/cappuccino/latte that was as good or better than the espresso/cappuccino/latte that they enjoyed at the roaster's cafe itself? For example, is the espresso at the place that uses Blue Bottle or Stumptown or Intelligentsia as good as the drinks one gets at Blue Bottle or Stumptown or Intelligentsia?
This was prompted by a thread on Café Grumpy in New York, a place I have never been to. (Neither have I been to Ninth St. -- I am not picking on them, just using them as an example.) The reason I am asking is that -- on the rare occasions when I drop into a particular local café that uses Flying Goat's "Espresso Ticino," it is never as good as when I am in Healdsburg and at Flying Goat itself! And that has made me think of the freshness of the coffee . . .
I honestly don't expect the coffee beans at a place like Starbuck's, etc. to necessarily be fresh (remember the month-old "scooped on" dating?), but certainly the beans at Vivace, Verve, and Counter Culture are. But what about the places that do not roast their own beans?
Just wondering on a not-so-sunny Sunday . . . (in fact, it's pouring!)