(June Coffee/Facebook)

Coffee lovers know the best cup is made with recently roasted beans—the fresher the better. Buying from a local roastery, especially one in the neighborhood, guarantees that freshness. 

Although Birmingham’s regional giants Royal Cup and Red Diamond are more than a century old, today’s modern coffee culture traces to 1993 when O’Henry’s Coffee opened in Homewood selling beans that were roasted in-house.

Today, dozens of small-batch producers can be found throughout the metro area. Their coffee beans are available in groceries and upscale markets, served in restaurants, sold online, and stocked in the roasteries’ own cafes.

Why does freshness matter? Oxidation. Exposure to oxygen gradually stales the beans, which over time mutes more and more of the flavors and aromas you’re paying top dollar to enjoy. Oxygen-resistant packaging slows that process. But the difference between coffee roasted days ago versus weeks ago shows up in the cup.

It’s a great time to be a coffee lover in greater Birmingham. Connoisseurs are probably familiar with local small-batch roasters like Domestique, Red Bike, Revelator, Higher Ground, Seeds, and Baba Java, but a new wave of roasteries is sweeping across the metro area. Here’s a sip or two about a few.

(Cala Coffee/Facebook)

Cala Coffee (Cahaba Heights)

Josh and Melanie Cosio started roasting their own coffee in 2021, which became the launching point for Cala Coffee. They started with a cart and did pop-ups before finding a permanent home for a roastery and café in the Cahaba Heights neighborhood of Vestavia Hills. It opened in January.

Get those beans: In-store pickup, subscriptions, and online (order either 12-ounce or five-pound bags)

June Coffee (Birmingham)

Fascinated by coffee, Jimmy Truong bought a commercial roaster and developed his skills through trial and error, first as Epilogue and now June Coffee and Roasting Co. Last year, Truong opened a brick-and-mortar café in Birmingham’s Central City neighborhood.

Get those beans: June Coffee is served in several Birmingham-area cafes and  restaurants. Find its beans at June’s new café, General in Forest Park, and Little Professor Bookstore in Homewood. 

Daysol Coffee Lab (Helena)

Head roaster Bert Davis (Da) and (“y” in Spanish) co-founder Peter Solis (Sol) are Daysol. Located in Old Town Helena, with a mobile cold-brew coffee unit mounted on a bike, Daysol generally stocks three to four ultra-premium blends and single-origin beans, with occasional experiments like barrel-aged coffee suited for either breakfast or an after-work tipple. A substantial portion of sales from its Woolley Bugger Blend benefits the Cahaba River Keeper.

Get those beans: Whole bean and ground bags and subscriptions are sold directly online; delivery in Birmingham area available. Bags are sold in Birmingham-area Piggly Wiggly stores and nearly a dozen other locations in Helena, Birmingham, Mountain Brook, and Montgomery.

Fly Line Coffee (Trussville)

Matthew Yerby roasts premium beans in his home, which he sells as Fly Line Coffee. The middle school teacher, coffee enthusiast, and avid fisherman favors labels depicting native birds, fish, and other wildlife. Fly Line’s website includes coffee-geek details (grown by a Honduran cooperative at 4,700 feet and harvested the previous winter), as well as basic information like degree of roast, tasting notes, and recommended brewing methods.

Get those beans: Order online for shipping, with optional pickup. Choose whole bean or ground. Fly Line Coffee is sold in eight-ounce or 10-ounce bags, or in two-pound lots. 

(Bronze Bean Coffee Lab/Facebook)

Bronze Bean Coffee Lab (Hoover)

It’s hard to find fresher coffee. Bronze’s beans are roasted only when an order comes in, ensuring they are in peak condition. That’s the niche for Omar Abu-Hamdeh and Bashar Khalaf. They learned how to roast coffee the modern way—by watching YouTube videos. Ultra-premium offerings include beans grown by a cooperative in the Tolima China Alta region of Colombia, and from a single estate in Horqueta, Panama.

Find those beans: When you order online, choose your preferred roasting level, amount (12 ounces or two pounds), and preferred grind (for drip, cold brew, French press, etc.). Free local delivery in Birmingham area with a $20 or more order.