Sweet Maria's Weblog

Calling all Franken-Roasters

Oct. 30, 2015

If you read our recent post about the home roaster design contest we are sponsoring, you may have seen that we are looking for photos of your home-grown coffee roasting creations. If it's in the works or something that you have been using for years, we want to see it. Once we get a few cool design submissions, we'll showcase them all right here in a week or so.

Please send us photos and a short description to info@sweetmarias.com

This Week's Fresh Roasted Coffee

Oct. 30, 2015

One pound bags...roasted on 10/28

  • Roasted - Guatemala Antigua Pulcal Inteligente - from the "Inteligente" block of the Pulcal Coffee Estate in Antigua, Guatemala. Roasted to City+. Inteligente is a complex coffee. There are notes of ripe plum, pineapple, blackberry, asian pear and pleasant acidity. It also has a fair amount of sweetness, like light honey and caramelized sugar.


  • Roasted - Ethiopia Agaro Nano Challa - from the Nano Challa Cooperative in the Agaro area of Ethiopia. Roasted to a City roast level. Nano Challa has an intense floral aroma and refined honey sweetness. There are mild fruit notes and a ginger snap cookie flavor.



Hello Neighbor

Oct. 27, 2015

If you have been by our warehouse to pick up your coffee order, you have seen how there's not much going on near us. Our building is sandwiched between a residential block and Oakland's municipal maintenance facility which is why we were happy to see our new neighbors, Urban Warehouse, moving in next door. Urban Warehouse is an expansion of Urban Furniture, a second-hand furniture/thrift store located a few minutes away in Oakland's Grand Lake neighborhood. Both locations work under the umbrella of Urban University, a Oakland non-profit that delivers social change and job training.

Their hours contrast with ours as they are open on the weekends and we are open on the weekdays so we don't see the good folks at Urban Warehouse all that often but word on the street is that their hours will be expanding to Thursdays and Fridays. If you are in West Oakland over the weekend, we encourage you to drop by and check out some amazing deals on really nice furniture.


FirstBuild's Roaster Design Contest

Oct. 23, 2015

We are sponsoring a coffee roaster design contest. Well, it's a contest, and also a community of engineers/product developers that are passionate about creating a new appliance that roasts coffee in a new way. We are excited because the rules state contestants must submit designs that will work inside a convection oven. Traditionally ovens have been a very tricky tool to roast coffee with so it's wonderful that there are great minds out there thinking about how to make oven roasting easier.

So far, most contestants are teams of young folks that we hope continue creating appliances with coffee roasting in mind.

Thank you to Justin at FirstBuild for putting together this awesome brain-powered collaboration. We look forward to helping out with the judging process next month.

Learn more about this contest by clicking here.


Does this get your creative juices flowing? We are always very interested in your homegrown roaster designs. Want to share? Send us photos plus a short description of that crazy machine you roast with or that Franken-roaster you are working on and we'll compile a blog post with everyone's DIY roasters. Email your photos to us at info@sweetmarias.com with "my roaster" as the subject line.

Day after Day Job

Day after Day Job: Our Weekly Series on Home Roasters Turning Pro


Part 3 The Heat is On


Roasting is important. I’ve said it in every single other place and I will continue to say it again and again. Don’t tell me, or anyone, that you roasted the coffee so that you wouldn’t show too much influence over it, that you’re letting the coffee shine on its own. That’s ridiculous and misplaced humility. Roasting is not that incredibly difficult but it does require attention and care, just like cooking anything well does. You do need to have equipment that gives you some control over the energy input and the airflow, allows you to take accurate (or at least consistent) measurements, and has a trier that you can use to observe what is happening to the coffee during the roast. Can you achieve amazing roasts on your air-popper, Behmor, or other home roasting machine? Emphatically yes, but working at a commercial scale with any kind of efficiency, while at the same time being able to have control over shaping the roast, requires these utilities.


I don’t care about your logging software. I don’t. Is logging and keeping records of your roasts important? Absolutely, but it is not nearly as important as a sample trier that allows you to get a decent sample so that you can see and smell what’s happening to the coffee. You also need to be able to hear the first and second cracks. Coffee is not ones and zeros, and if you’re roasting to numbers instead of what is...