Pete Maestas, warehouse manager for Surf City Coffee Co., checks an organic dark roast Papua New Guinea coffee bean.
Local coffee bean roaster roasts beans to order
SOQUEL — For the last 11 years, Peter Maestas has worked his way up in the Surf City Coffee Company, eventually making his way to coffee roaster.
Starting in delivery, packaging and pick-up, Maestas mostly did odd jobs and did not start roasting coffee until five years ago. As people left the company, he learned more about the business until coffee roasting sort of “fell into” his hands.
“Pretty much anything they have, I’ve done or I do,” Maestas said. “My favorite part is probably roasting the coffee. Being able to see it go from the green bean all the way to the brown, roasted wonderful tasting coffee.”
On the wall of his office, maps showing different locations and origins of beans are scattered throughout. Other diagrams describe the different qualities of the beans — like butter or chocolate.
“Some of our coffee will have a nutty fruity flavor to it,” he said. “If you sip your coffee and you can taste that, that’s a good cup of coffee.”
For Surf City, the coffee beans are bought from their distributor Royal Coffee in Oakland, who gets their beans from all over the world.
“So if it says it’s a Mexican coffee, it comes from Mexico,” Maestas said. “A Papua New Guinea comes from Papua New Guinea, Costa Rican’s from Costa Rica — it comes from all over the place.”
But beyond just being able to roast the beans and watch the product transform, Maestas has also cultivated relationships with many of the clients he delivers to.
“There is definitely a relationship that develops with my customers,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a love relationship for the caffeine, you know, the legal stuff.”
The way the people treat him has a big influence on him, with some of his customers stopping him and checking up on him and his life.
“Certain stops I do care for more than others and that’s only because of the way people treat me when I show up,” he said. “Some people stop and ask me questions and we learn about each other’s families.”
Maestas has hopes for his coffee roasting as well. Currently, he roasts two days a week, but he would like to see that number go up.
“I would like to see us grow and start being able to roast four to five days a week and have that much business going through our warehouse,” he said. “I think with having a local roaster in the area, people from the area will gravitate to that because it is a local company.”
Starbucks, he says, is everywhere and you can get that any time. Surf City is not. Beyond locality, Maestas is also proud of the product he delivers.
“A local roaster is a little different,” Maestas said. “I can personally look at someone straight in the eyes and say, ‘I guarantee this is the best coffee you are gonna have.’”
His brand loyalty doesn’t just stop at Surf City. While he says that is the only coffee he drinks locally, he also maintains that when he vacations, he searches out the “mom and pop” locations.
“I really don’t drink coffee from other companies, unless I’m on vacation. It’s nothing personal,” he said. “It’s the local business, it helps support a local company. And that’s what I hope people see with Surf City — that they see us as a local company and they are able to help us continue to thrive and go for another 30 years.”
With three storefront locations — Aptos, Moss Landing and Scotts Valley — growth is on their minds. Right now Surf City is in the process of getting into K cups in hopes of getting into hotels and expanding the business. Already, they have had sample packages made.
“We have to find someone to package it for us,” Maestas said. “From there it’s talking to customers, finding people who want them and putting in the orders and saying ‘we will have it for ya.’”
But, like how he roasts the coffee, orders will not be placed until the demand is there.
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