"Each one impacts the coffee in a different way, much like a different method of cooking affects chicken," Caragay said.

Spro's coffee might be fancy, but its décor is not. Its neutral-toned main room seats only a dozen in straight-backed chairs and a very long bench. A pair of 44-inch-tall Japanese cold-brewing towers give the space the feel of an apothecary shop.

"Our model of coffee presentation is very different than the industry norm," says Caragay.

Baltimore's next high-end coffee shop, Artifact Coffee, is set to open in March just up the street from Woodberry Kitchen. Artifact started in 2007 as a "pop-up" coffee shop, designed to temporarily occupy the former foundry that became Woodberry. Now it returns under the guidance of Caran, who leads Woodberry's weekly coffee cuppings.

With her back to Woodberry's enormous sunny windows, she recently led her listeners through the fine points of tasting coffee. Don't sip like a Ruxton dowager, or the coffee won't reach all your taste buds, Caran advised.

"The louder you slurp, the better it is," she said

Here's where to taste high-end coffee and learn some lingo that will have you sounding like a barista in no time.

Lamill Coffee

Located in the Four Seasons hotel, 200 International Drive, Harbor East.


To introduce itself to Baltimore, Lamill is hosting free "coffee clinics" on Saturdays at 10 a.m. A lesson about beans and brewing will pair a tasting of coffees from Panama and Kenya with foods from Lamill's menu.

This Saturday, it's Black Velvet blend prepared using a siphon, with a menu to be decided. On Feb. 4, it will feature Birdsong Honey from Panama prepared two ways — in the V60 hand-drip process and the Eva Solo process — paired with beignets and chocolate sauce.

Woodberry Kitchen

2010 Clipper Park Road, No. 126, Woodberry

410-464-8000, woodberrykitchen.com

Barista Allie Caran, who plans to open Artifact Coffee nearby in the spring, holds a "cupping" every Friday at 10 a.m. in Woodberry's dining room. Part coffee klatch and part tasting school, Caran says it's a standardized way of tasting coffees and a chance to learn what "makes coffee so special, so spectacular." Think of it as "courting the coffee," she says. Come prepared to slurp.

Zeke's Coffee

4607 Harford Road, Lauraville

410-254-0122, zekescoffee.com

Unless you frequent Zeke's or follow it on Facebook, you missed tasting exotic Kopi Luwak coffee earlier this month at a "roastery." Luwak sells for upward of $200 a pound because the rare brew's beans are ingested by a Southeast Asian cat called the palm civet and harvested from the feline's feces. Zeke's plans to sell ground Kopi Luwak later this winter at $40 for two ounces.

Owner Thomas Rhodes said he is putting together tastings of coffees from Jamaica and Yemen. Check Zeke's website or Facebook page for future dates.

Spro Coffee

851 W. 36th St., Hampden

410-243-1262, sprocoffee.com

Owner Jay Caragay plans to mark the shop's second anniversary in March, but no events have been announced. Call the shop or e-mail sprohampden@gmail.com for more information.