Sweet Maria's Weblog

Rhyme or Reason: Why You Roast - Hunt Slade

October 24, 2014

A couple of years ago when Hunt Slade of Safehouse Coffee Roasters called me up to ask me about my opinions on some different roaster models, we ended up having an even bigger conversation about realizing and actualizing the potential of any roasting machine. From that I knew that Hunt would be a perfect roaster to talk to about “why” he roasts in the first place and what has pushed him to take his interest in roasting and turn it into a profession. Building a business for the purpose of supporting a community and organization could easily put any number of extra pressures on maintaining a love for roasting coffee, but Hunt faces all of it with a contagious positivism.


CS: What roasters have you played with? Everything.

HS: Chronologically: Many different consumer popcorn poppers, both stock and hacked Various heat gun/metal bowl combinations Freshroast ( I forget the model - from 9 or 10 years ago ) Long handled pan over open fire RK 5lb perfed drum in a LP gas grill - this is what we actually started SHCR with Sonofresco fluid bed 1lb roaster (LP gas) Freshroast SR500 Has Garanti 5k (natural gas) Behmor 1600 Quest M3 110v Limited roasting on: Deidrich 24k both IR and direct flame Probatino (natural gas)

CS: Have you ever built a roasting device or kit?

HS: I didn't originally build our old RK drum/gas rig - Ron Kyle gave it to us years ago, but I have deconstructed and reconstructed it many times. I learned several things through this although much of what I learned was really only painted in broad strokes. In this rig, I found that modifying drum speed would either promote or inhibit scorching and tipping. I also found that air flow for removing effluence from the roasting chamber was highly desirable to limit certain "roasty" attributes in the coffee. Other things learned: the need for roaster cleaning, even in a grill rig; the limitations of batch size/ achievable roast profile vs available BTUs; slow batch cooling robs your coffee of sweetness in the cup.

CS: Do you enjoy roasting more on a bigger machine, or did it ruin a hobby you like?

HS: It may not be the right choice for someone else, but I absolutely love roasting on machines larger than home or sample roasters. For me, it felt like a natural progression of learning. However, I have no experience with anything larger than...

How we do. How we brew. Tim's camp coffee set-up

October 21, 2014

Fall is the rock climbing season here in Northern California, so it often means I'm camping in the Sierras to be closer to outdoor rock climbing when I'm not answering emails here at Sweet Maria's! I generally just car camp, so I like to bring a good coffee set-up, even if it takes up a bit of room in the car. If I'm backpacking or going somewhere remote, I'll take something more like Tom's travel kit.
This past weekend I brought what I had left from our roasted suscription program of the Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Zonegediyo, which had great floral notes and brightness.


New Coffee: Excellent Colombias and a New Ethiopia

Colombia Finca La Esperanza - Brayan Joven is such a complete coffee, dynamic yet well balanced, top notes that seem to multiply as the cup cools. Characteristics range from Honey sweetness, to plum and cherry fruits, to a fruit-juice acidity - a real standout, suited for competition! We've begun to work with a new intermediary in Colombia, gaining us access to producer groups new to us. This first container is nearly all from one group in the Timaná region of Huila, and I have to say, quality is more than up to par, a few exceeding our expectations. 

Sweet Maria's Container Sampler - Colombia 10 x 1LB samples of each lot of coffee that was in this Timaná container. Not every coffee will be available on SM (we buy for Coffee Shrub too!), so this is truly the only way you will be able to try all of these coffees. There's only 150 available, and so we are limiting 1 per household.

Colombia Organic Tres Parques - Apia is a fruit forward Colombia, long sweetness, and brightening acidity.

Ethiopia Dry Process Gey Harar. ...

Roasted: Colombia Huila El Templo de Palestina & Guatemala Huehuetenango Cuilco

October 16, 2014

As the weather gets cooler and the daylight ends earlier, brings forth a good time to introduce coffees with chocolaty sweetness. These two subscription coffees give a nice example of that Fall time nostalgia. A big slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of either of these two coffees will bring an excellent match.   


Colombia Huila El Templo de Palestina City+

The dry grounds smell of juicy sweet cherries, and once brewed the aroma announces oatmeal cookie and spice. The finish has a semisweet cocoa mouthfeel and a clean apple-like acidity. 


Guatemala Huehuetenango Cuilco Full City

This cup is full of chocolate notes that range from milk to dark semisweet. The aftertaste is almondy, sweet and creamy. There is also a nice malic acidity in the finish that is well preserved in this Full City roast. 



Danny Goot





A Tale from the Land of the HandyBrew

October 13, 2014

We sold out of the HandyBrew many months ago. In the meantime, we have been in close communication with the manufacturer (the folks who also make the Clever Coffee Dripper) as they put a lot of effort into creating a new model. It's now back in stock with a new look and improvements that will make an even better HandyBrew brew.