I had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend Jen Apodaca and touring Royal Coffee in Emeryville last week. I'd been considering reviving a new version of our Roast and Learn Together discussions and felt that the vast educational opprotunitites and resources that Royal Coffee offered would be a great fit with folks here at HB, especially now with the branching out to home roasters via their Crown Jewels program. HB has enjoyed teaming up with other green coffee vendors (Mill City, Sweet Maria's) in the past, and this seemed like a natural extension in that journey.
Here's just a random collection of some of the photos I took while visiting Jen and her team, cupping some samples, and touring their beautiful facility right on the harbor.
The weather didn't cooperate quite as nicely the day I was there, but the views of the bay, the SF skyline and the Bay Bridge are pretty stunning.
The building their coffee lab is housed in, nestled amongst beautiful boats. The warehouse they store their coffee is in a different location. They are also working on a new roasting and training lab, called simply, The Crown. It will expand the Bay Area's training, lab and event space for specialty coffee which I'll be excited to report on when it's up and running.
The decor inside is a nice combination of coffee paraphernalia of days gone by, and a beautiful space for cupping and evaluating their samples. They have separate space for their buyers, sellers and administrative staff, with beautiful views out every window.
I love these framed coffee bags from yesteryear.
Their cupping tables are surrounded by natural light and cool coffee artifacts.
They have numerous sample roasters to choose from, including these beautiful open barrel (Jabez Burns) units and a Probatino downstairs.
Jen at the helm of the Probatino, she compiles an abundant amount of data on their coffees, rarely seen to this level and shared freely with their customers. Hobbyist roasters looking to improve their chops would be well advised to spend ample time on their website
, soaking up her roasting datapoints and discussions amongst her team when they analyze each particular batch, usually done in two brew methods, a batch brewer and a simple pour-over like a Chemex.
All their profiles are logged via Cropster.
And some of the goodies that brought me there that day, their Crown Jewels offerings.
I was fortunate to leave with a small 200g sample of a Burundi coffee they have on offer. I roasted it 4 days ago and have been bowled over with its balance, well rounded sweetness (cherry, caramel, raisin) and velvety mouthfeel. It truly is a complete coffee and one I'll likely pick up myself.
A closing note for the HB roasting audience, we are blessed to have Jen participating in our roasting experiments and discussions going forward. She joined HB specifically to engage and share her knowledge with us. We should note that Jen has many irons in the fire, being a full time Director of Roasting for the Crown, a mom of two little ones and a busy schedule as a member of the Executive Council for the Roasters Guild, so she may not be able to follow every thread and answer every scattered question, so I'm hoping folks will consider pooling their questions in a way that makes it easier for her to navigate thru.
Her posts won't be commercially motivated, she'll only provide feedback and experience on a coffee after someone has already purchased it and starts a discussion on it. So, while she may decide to share some impressions on upcoming coffees, she's not specifically going to be engaging the audience so as to influence the purchase of certain coffees. I feel this will give her the best amount of freedom to navigate in and around our roasting community with transparency. Please make sure to welcome her and thank her for her participation with our group. I have little doubt that she's roasted more coffee than the entirety of HB combined, and she has an excellent wealth of knowledge to share, and she does it in a friendly, welcoming way.