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ROAST OF THE TOWN

A PIRATES HURLER CHRONICLES LIFE ON THE ROAD, ONE FRESHLY BREWED CUP OF COFFEE AT A TIME
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JAMESON TAILLON admits it: He's a coffee snob. Big time. Don't try shoving some hours-old clubhouse brew in his face. ("It's just not good," he says.) No, the 26-year-old Pirates righthanded pitcher wants nothing but the best in his cup of joe.

Taillon, who grew up outside of Houston, started drinking coffee regularly while pitching in Double A Altoona (Pa.) as a way to beat the cold. Now he is constantly trying to find the best coffee shop in each city he visits. Chatting up baristas, he discovered so much about coffee and local shops that he decided to share what he learned.

So Taillon started a blog, ProBrew.co, in which he chronicles his favorites across the country. Along with a picture of his hand holding the cup, he offers a quick description. (His entry after visiting Swing's Coffee in Washington, D.C.: What blew my mind was the "poursteady" machine that poured my cup of coffee. Going to need one for future home ASAP.) His method for finding the next mind-blowing cup starts with Yelp and Instagram. Then he digs into the store.

First, he'll note if the baristas are making pour-overs, single-serve cups made by pouring hot water over freshly ground beans in a filter. And then he'll quiz the people working the counter: What's the best thing you've got? Do you roast the beans here? What region is this brew from?

Taillon, who prefers pour-over coffee from South America, usually black (though occasionally with a splash of cream), even teamed up with his favorite Pittsburgh shop, Commonplace, to make a roast. It's called the Lending Hearts Blend, benefiting the charity that helps pediatric cancer. It's an issue important to him—Taillon had, and beat, testicular cancer last year.

So yes, Taillon is a coffee snob. He makes pour-overs in the clubhouse, for goodness' sake. But he's open-minded. When a reporter confesses to drinking a Dunkin' Donuts Honey Vanilla latte that morning, Taillon reserves his judgment. "If you like it, man, who's to say otherwise?"

JAVA JAMESON'S TOP FIVE

1. BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE, Oakland

Founded in 2002, the Bay-area roaster, which focuses on single-origin beans, has expanded to nearly every major city in the U.S., and has eight outposts in Japan.

2. BLUEPRINT COFFEE, St. Louis

Featuring many far-out blends, this specialty shop holds barista competitions and free tastings.

3. COLECTIVO, Milwaukee

Enjoy a cup at the bar while watching them roast beans by hand on two vintage roasters at their Humboldt Boulevard location.

4. IPSENTO, Chicago

In addition to offering seasonal blends and craft beers, they also hold classes on coffee history.

5. ELIXR COFFEE, Philadelphia

One of their employees recently took home second place at the U.S. Barista Championships.