Formerly Oakland, Calif.-based coffee company Proyecto Diaz has officially reaped the benefit of a crowdfunding campaign launched almost exactly one year ago with the goal of acquiring its own roaster and production space.
Whereas the company to this point produced its roasted coffees through a toll-roasting relationship with Vince Virzi of the Oakland-based Due Torri Coffee Co., Proyecto Diaz is now getting up to speed on a San Franciscan SF6 roaster of its own, inside its own 1,200-square-foot roasting facility in the neighboring Bay Area city of San Leandro.
Founded three years ago with the primary directive of importing and selling beans from founder Fernando Diaz’s grandfather’s farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, the company also sells single-origins and blends derived from a variety of producing countries. Proyecto hopes to donate profits to a single “project” farm at a time, to fund both one-time improvements and ongoing investments in helping that farm achieve new benchmarks for quality and general sustainability. So far the project farm continues to be the Diaz family farm, though eventually the company intends to shift its focus to another farm partner.
“We don’t estimate shifting complete focus for another two to three years,” Fernando Diaz told Daily Coffee News. “I would say we’re about halfway through getting it off the ground.”
Diaz reported that the company has started supporting neighboring farms by way of buying their coffee, as demand for Proyecto Diaz beans increases. To that end, bringing production completely in-house and having a space of its own are major steps in the right direction. The six-pound-capacity San Franciscan machine is significantly smaller than the Due Torri 12-kilo Probat, though Diaz is confident that they be able to make a reasonably seamless transition.
“I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on, and obviously just cupping, cupping, cupping,” Diaz said of the learning process. He’s fed samples to professional baristas in the Bay Area and been encouraged by positive feedback. “The idea is to completely transition over into this SF6, which you can imagine is going to be a whole lot of roasting, which is a bit of a ridiculous endeavor if you think about the time. But I think it’s something that we can definitely do.”
Diaz fired up the San Franciscan in the new facility for the first time in April. He expects Proyecto Diaz production to be 100 percent in-house within about six months, and then anticipates upgrading to a larger roaster in maybe a year and a half, maintaining a relationship with Due Torri to contract out a bit of PD production to ease potential growing pains.
There are no current plans for a retail coffeehouse, as the company remains squarely focused on building its wholesale and online retail business. A small housewarming party took place in the new roasting facility on Saturday, June 3, featuring snacks, drinks, plenty of coffee, and a piñata full of Mexican candy.