It used to be hard to get a good cup of coffee in the Rogue Valley and the rest of Oregon. That's all changed.

Said one aficionado, "Coffee was watered down ink when I left in the late 1960s. When I returned here in 2002, this was espresso land.”

Today's coffee kiosks adorn nearly every major street, offering fancy coffee-based drinks, from double-shot espressos to fruit smoothies and mochas. Every morning, cars line up as regular customers patiently wait for their first caffeine of the day. Each hut serves a large variety of specialty brews from premium, hand-blended beans roasted daily for freshness.

One of the pioneer companies in the Valley, Dutch Brothers Coffee, began as an espresso cart hauled out by brothers Travis and Dane Boersma, former dairy farmers in Grants Pass. Today the coffee kiosk chain has 280 company-owned and franchise locations that roast more than a million pounds of coffee beans a year. Other successful regional companies include Medford-based Mellelo Coffee and the Human Bean that opened its first store in Ashland, Ore., in 1998.

Caffeine cravers don't have to look far to find a good cup of coffee these days.

Sources: Internet: http://www.dutchbros.com; http://www.thehumanbean.com; http://www.peets.com; "Dutch Bros. co-founder dies at 55" Medford, Ore. Mail Tribune by Jeff Duewell, Oct. 16, 2009: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091016/NEWS/910160321/-1/rss01; "Caffeine Cravings Keep Dutch Bros. Growing." Business Wire. Jan. 16, 2009: http://www.allbusiness.com/consumer-products/food-beverage-products-nonalcoholics/11751290-1.html.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.