By MELISSA HUTSELL
Business Journal Writer
STOCKTON — American’s love for lattes is at an all-time high, and local businesses are stepping up to meet this demand.
The industry’s rapid growth has made way for local artisans, such as Terra Coffee Roasters — a micro-roastery based in Stockton.
According to a study released by the National Coffee Association USA (NCA), daily coffee consumption is growing. Fueling this growth are young consumers, reports the study titled “National Coffee Drinking Trends 2017,” and an increased taste for specialty blends.
Terra Coffee Roasters’ owners, a husband and wife duo, Laura and Efrain Garcia, serve their home-roasted beans straight from their kitchen to customers — literally.
“We’ve transformed our kitchen into a commercial roaster,” Laura Garcia said. “We’re pretty unique as far as local businesses go.” Terra Coffee Roasters is the first business of its kind in San Joaquin County, she explained, which functions as a cottage food operation (CFO).
The California Cottage Food Law allows CFOs, which are limited to a maximum of $50,000 in annual sales, to produce certain non-potentially hazardous foods at home. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) defines these foods as “[those] that do not support the rapid growth of bacteria that would make people sick when held outside of refrigeration temperatures.”
Terra Coffee Roasters is licensed and certified as a class B operation, which requires annual re-permitting and inspections by local environmental health agencies.
The Garcias officially launched their business in December 2016. The decision was driven by years of experimentation, passion and curiosity for coffee. However, it was catalyzed by a trip to Texas, which Efrain Garcia described as a “coffee tour.”
It was then that they purchased their commercial roaster, and formally started their specialty-roasted coffee bean business.
Specialty coffee, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, is defined as being high-quality throughout the supply chain, from farming to roasting. Terra Coffee Roasters lives up to these terms by sourcing sustainably, and by roasting small, five-pound batches of beans at a time.
“Benefits to small batches is that we can take a more personalized approach to develop excellent flavor profiles” Laura Garcia said.
“We typically source beans from micro-lots which are very limited and can run out quickly,” she added.
The Garcias typically keep about nine types of beans on hand, which they carefully choose, mix and roast. They distribute their batches in 12-ounce, one-pound, or five-pound bags (wholesale). “We make our coffees to order,” Efrain Garcia said. “All [are] roasted the same day or day before [it’s served].”
Their beans are imported only from fair trade certified farmers throughout the world, Efrain Garcia explained, including Latin America, South America, Asia and Africa.
Why? Because this helps ensure coffee bean growers are being compensated fairly, he explained.
Efrain Garcia said that he’ll be bringing in new coffee constantly. “A lot of people love having a very stable coffee [but we want to] make it more exciting by bringing in coffees from around the world.”
The Garcias also create their own signature, handmade syrups, which feature locally-sourced ingredients and hand-milled spices.
The company is steadily growing, roasting about 20 pounds or more of coffee per week. Terra Coffee Roasters’ products are regularly available at In Season Market and Nursery in Stockton, where they also host free monthly tastings of their blends, including their single origin, or signature “Café de Olla” — a medium dark roast infused with cinnamon and cane sugar.
Café de Olla is a traditional Mexican coffee inspired by Efrain Garcia’s heritage, Laura Garcia explained.
Customers can order espresso or beans at Holy Grounds at Presentation Church; and occasionally, a cup at Cast Iron Trading Co. The company intends on serving their products at future Stockmarket and farmers market events.
The Garcias’ plan to expand on what they’ve built so far. In the near future, they hope to extend their inventory, and eventually open their own brick and mortar store in Downtown Stockton.
When asked about the growth of the specialty coffee industry, the Garcias said that it’s in part due to “a desire for information and quality.” Efrain Garcia added, “people are becoming more aware of bean’s origin.”
Chain stores like Starbucks have helped shape the industry, and have brought more interest toward coffee itself, they noted.
But, it’s not just “coffee” anymore; it’s a craft.
Like craft beer, or vintage wines, Efrain Garcia said, there’s a growing culture for coffee.
And people are starting to appreciate the art behind it, added Laura Garcia.
For more information about Terra Coffee Roasters and their products, visit TerraCoffee.com