Home Coffee Roasting: A Bump on the Butt of Specialty Coffee

by Thompson Owen

A guy goes into a coffee roasting shop and asks if he can buy some green coffee to roast at home. The owner says, “Sure, and I will give you a 10 percent discount off our roasted coffee price.”  The guy says, “Gee, since I will have 20 percent weight loss, that means I am basically paying 10 percent more to have you NOT roast my coffee for me.” The guy then starts a web site for home coffee roasting, naming it for his wife, who was certainly sweet to sell $12,000 of Grandpa’s stock to get the ball rolling.

The story is not entirely true. I didn’t have the wherewithal to think of that 20 percent weight loss right there on the spot. And if I did, I wouldn’t have mentioned it. I would have just bought the coffee, and gone home pissed off and resentful. That’s just how I am.

But Sweet Maria’s Coffee did start out as my own personal alternative to locally roasted coffee when my wife and I found ourselves, rather regrettably, living in Columbus, Ohio. The owner of the aforementioned roasting shop was a bit hostile to my questions. He made a point to serve me personally when I visited, which sounds like kind attention, but I actually think it was rather defensive; he didn’t want other salespeople to say something they shouldn’t.

So my business was born out of this awkward relationship (or non-relationship) between a coffee roaster and a home roaster. This uncomfortable situation persists in the coffee trade, an ambiguous tie between professional and amateur. It must exist in other crafts and activities, between the professional and the DIYer: beer brewing, bass fishing, bowling… you know, all the pinnacles of Western culture.

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