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Pounds of beans at home

Sharing beans and trading notes with the San Diego Home Roasters Club.

A sack of green coffee beans at Café Virtuoso
A sack of green coffee beans at Café Virtuoso
Place

Cafe Virtuoso

1616 National Avenue, San Diego

Each month a small group of coffee roasters meets up at Café Virtuoso, the organic roasting shop in Barrio Logan, to share beans and trade notes. Most are not coffee professionals, though some have been cooking for decades. The San Diego Home Roasters Club mainly consists of hobbyists who’ve embrace a more hands-on approach to expressing their fondness for coffee.

I dropped in on their November meeting to meet some of the group and to see what goes on when long-term coffee buffs get together. It was free of the hipster trappings often associated with artisan coffee. Many of the members skew older, and some have been doing this longer than the term third wave has existed.

That said, they seem keen on working with different roasting profiles and trying out new equipment. One member I spoke to, named Lee, said he’d collected four roasters at home, partly just to gauge the different results they yield.

Another, Fulton, says he got into roasting more than 20 years ago when he dropped by longtime local coffee purveyor Pannikin to buy roasted beans. He said the barista mentioned he could buy green beans 20 percent cheaper, adding with a laugh, “He didn’t tell me you lose 20 percent of the weight when you roast them.”

Another roaster, Andy, described his early days, when he’d acquire beans through mail order. Today, most of these guys get beans through online shops such as Sweet Maria’s and Bodhi Leaf, which also runs a locally accessible storefront outside Anaheim. Andy belongs to the Green Coffee Buying Club, an internet group that pools its resources to split large batches of beans tough to come by for individuals. “I have pounds of beans at home,” he said, “I call it my library.”

This Sunday, we sampled coffee from a more unlikely source, as longtime member Fred brought in freshly harvested beans from a plant he’s been growing at home in East County. The San Diego climate’s not at all ideal for growing coffee, so he must take great care to keep it thriving. He says a plant takes 4 or 5 years to bear fruit, with 8 or 9 months between harvests.

During a meeting a couple months ago the group sampled the coffee cherries produced by Fred’s plant, describing the taste as similar to a bell pepper sweetened by Stevia. At a meeting prior to that, each member brought in a roast he cooked at home from the same batch of green beans, to compare and contrast the results.

San Diego Home Roasters Club has been meeting more than ten years, floating from location to location. It found a more regular home the past few years when Virtuoso’s head of business development, Rigo Hernandez, got involved. A 20-year coffee veteran, Hernandez sees the roasting club as fitting in to Virtuoso’s mission. The club meets the second Sunday of most months, usually around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m.

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A sack of green coffee beans at Café Virtuoso
A sack of green coffee beans at Café Virtuoso
Place

Cafe Virtuoso

1616 National Avenue, San Diego

Each month a small group of coffee roasters meets up at Café Virtuoso, the organic roasting shop in Barrio Logan, to share beans and trade notes. Most are not coffee professionals, though some have been cooking for decades. The San Diego Home Roasters Club mainly consists of hobbyists who’ve embrace a more hands-on approach to expressing their fondness for coffee.

I dropped in on their November meeting to meet some of the group and to see what goes on when long-term coffee buffs get together. It was free of the hipster trappings often associated with artisan coffee. Many of the members skew older, and some have been doing this longer than the term third wave has existed.

That said, they seem keen on working with different roasting profiles and trying out new equipment. One member I spoke to, named Lee, said he’d collected four roasters at home, partly just to gauge the different results they yield.

Another, Fulton, says he got into roasting more than 20 years ago when he dropped by longtime local coffee purveyor Pannikin to buy roasted beans. He said the barista mentioned he could buy green beans 20 percent cheaper, adding with a laugh, “He didn’t tell me you lose 20 percent of the weight when you roast them.”

Another roaster, Andy, described his early days, when he’d acquire beans through mail order. Today, most of these guys get beans through online shops such as Sweet Maria’s and Bodhi Leaf, which also runs a locally accessible storefront outside Anaheim. Andy belongs to the Green Coffee Buying Club, an internet group that pools its resources to split large batches of beans tough to come by for individuals. “I have pounds of beans at home,” he said, “I call it my library.”

This Sunday, we sampled coffee from a more unlikely source, as longtime member Fred brought in freshly harvested beans from a plant he’s been growing at home in East County. The San Diego climate’s not at all ideal for growing coffee, so he must take great care to keep it thriving. He says a plant takes 4 or 5 years to bear fruit, with 8 or 9 months between harvests.

During a meeting a couple months ago the group sampled the coffee cherries produced by Fred’s plant, describing the taste as similar to a bell pepper sweetened by Stevia. At a meeting prior to that, each member brought in a roast he cooked at home from the same batch of green beans, to compare and contrast the results.

San Diego Home Roasters Club has been meeting more than ten years, floating from location to location. It found a more regular home the past few years when Virtuoso’s head of business development, Rigo Hernandez, got involved. A 20-year coffee veteran, Hernandez sees the roasting club as fitting in to Virtuoso’s mission. The club meets the second Sunday of most months, usually around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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