Sweet Maria's Weblog

Day After Day Job

March, 22, 2016


Part 6: Your Dream Machine


One of the largest, if not the largest, capital investments you will make in starting a roasting company will be your roaster. This equipment can end up being a huge part of your identity as a company, either because of the machine or brand of machine itself and the hype and/or hangups around it, or hopefully the way you’re able to make it speak for you and your craft.


Procuring a production roasting machine might be one of the main reasons that you wanted to go pro in the first place, and there may be a make or model that you’ve been coveting for some time. The lure of the dream machine is powerful, though the actual quest for one is frequently frustrating and expensive. There are clearly more small roasteries open now than at any other time, which means that the market for vintage roasters is competitive to say the least. But this competitiveness has also driven the production of a number of new small shop roasters and increased their availability on the market.


Because I’ve had the good fortune of working on a number of different types of roasters, I’m frequently asked about my opinion on what’s available out there.  [Almost as frequently,  I’m asked if I know where they can find a vintage machine for a good deal.]   With that in mind, I figured that it was important for this series to do a rundown on some of the small to midsized roasters currently available on...

Mexico/Guatemala Insta-tour

Mar. 11, 2016

This is an Instagram-travelogue consisting of a few 'grams shot during Tom's recent trip to Mexico and Guatemala. Our Instagram page has more travel pics as well.



They gots it all...

A photo posted by Sweet Marias ☕️ (@sweetmarias) on


Sweet Maria's Teaches a Coffee Class at Food Craft Institute

March 8, 2016

Last weekend, we taught a class at Food Craft Institute as a part of their Coffee Roasting and Retail course. We used home roasting machines like a Behmor 1600+, FreshRoast SR500 and an Air Crazy popcorn popper to demonstrate the basics of coffee roasting. We knew that showing small home roasting machines to students starting their own coffee businesses would be a bit unusual, but there was a method to our madness.  Home roasting is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of coffee as it moves through the roast process. For example, a popcorn popper allows you to roast without any physical barriers between you and the bean mass. The noise of the cracks combined with the aroma of the steam and smoke are in your face and turn into roast profile bookmarks that can be very educational. Understanding these basics can hopefully give a future coffee entrepreneur a big advantage.

Other classes in the course were taught by SF Bay Area companies, BLOOM Ready, Blue Bottle, Berkeley Co-Roasting, Modern Coffee, Wendy Weiden Food Solutions, Royal Coffee, Red Bay, Equator and Boor Bridges Architecture. Whoa...that's quite a line-up. With a knowledge base like that, you can expect this year's graduating class to be a very successful one.

Food Craft Institute offers excellent food-related courses throughout the year and also runs the incredible Eat Real food festival every summer here in Oakland. If you are interested in starting your own food or beverage biz, enroll yourself into one of their classes to give yourself a head start.

Sorry there's no cool photos of the class. We were too engaged...

Insta-tour of Honduras

Feb. 15, 2016

Tom just got back from Honduras. Here's a micro-travelogue consisting of a few Instagrams shot during his trip.  Check out our Instagram page for more travel photos and dog photos, and motorcycle photos and coffee plant photos and a few photos of weird things.



In Honduras to build something good. #Copan #honduras #dewalt

A photo posted by Sweet Marias ☕️ (@sweetmarias) on


Podcast: Kenya Coffee with Mette-Marie Hansen

Feb. 3, 2016

During his trip to Nairobi in Dec. of 2015, Tom had this casual conversation with Mette-Marie "Mia" Hansen about the confusing Kenyan coffee world and what it's like being a woman working in the financial end of the coffee trade.  Mia works for C. Dorman Coffee Exporters as a buyer and trader that also buys coffee from Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopa. 
Listen to all our podcasts (and subscribe too!) on iTunes.