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Neff Coffee is Roasting on the Road in San Diego

Neff Coffee San Diego

The Neff Coffee Roasters truck in San Diego. All images courtesy of Neff Coffee Roasters.

A new roasting business has literally rolled into the San Diego market, with a 2-pound fluid-bed Sonofresco roaster mounted inside a commercial coffee truck. Neff Coffee Roasters (Facebook) now winds its way through automotive traffic in order to park in areas of heavy foot traffic, selling fresh-roasted beans and carefully crafted drinks to passersby in parks and near offices.

The father-son duo of David and Matthew Neff hoisted the retail window up for the first time on the Neff electric hybrid 2001 Freightliner MT45 last month, sending the smell of roasting coffee up into the eucalyptus breeze at Grape Street Dog Park, the largest of three dog parks in San Diego’s expansive Balboa Park.

“We still frequent there because the regulars love having us there,” Matt Neff told Daily Coffee News.

sonofresco roaster Neff Coffee San Diego

The 2-pound-capacity Sonofresco roaster.

The Sonofresco machine is custom-mounted in the center of the vehicle, drawing propane from a tank mounted underneath and sending exhaust straight up a pipe through the roof. The company’s original roast profiles are stored and executed digitally, and have so far remained consistent in various weather and in different locations, according to Neff.

“The only thing we had to account for was being level,” said Neff. “We’ve accomplished this by using a custom mount for the roaster and an adjustable base. It’s a great roaster, and lends itself perfectly to being on a truck.”

The company’s opening lineup of coffees is a concise trio featuring beans from Guatemala, Sumatra and a natural-process Ethiopian bean from Sidamo. These are sourced through Sonofresco and roasted with a passion Matt Neff cultivated for years.

“It started when I was in the Coast Guard and I was ported in Costa Rica,” said Neff. “I was exposed to some amazing coffee, and since then I wanted to know as much as I could.”

La Marzocco Linea Neff Coffee San Diego

Neff drove that obsession through hours of YouTube videos and many online articles both about roasting as well as the ins and outs of coffee business and espresso bar operations. Formal training was ultimately provided at Sonofresco’s Washington headquarters when the company invited the Neffs to its annual roaster sessions lead by Kathi Zollman, assistant director of green coffee at Sonofresco parent company Coffee Holding Company.

Said Neff, “We learned so much, and [it] allowed us to really hone in on our house Neff Blend.”

That blend is roasted onboard daily and crafted into drinks ground by a Fiorenzato F64 Evo espresso grinder, auto-tamped by Puqpress and extracted on a classic La Marzocco Linea. A Bunn brewing system delivers larger batches of quicker cups of drip.

coffee truck Neff Coffee San Diego

While there’s no real clear roadmap for a roasting business on wheels, Neff said future plans might someday include a more permanent parking spot.

“We would love to be a wholesale provider someday,” said Neff. “That’s part of the dream. Owning a brick and mortar shop would be awesome. [But for now] the truck seems like a great way to get our product out to the most people.”




While not an original concept for the SonoFresco, this is an excellent outworking of the concept. I’ve used mine in portable situations, like multiday events where fairly large volumes of coffee need to be ready at all times… teamed up with a pair of Curtis G3 brewers, we kept up with the crowds for the duration.

I don’t know why you went through all fhe fuss of the levelling mount system. I’ve used mine in some crazy places, some of them decidedly not level. The airflow is strong enough the beans still loft and circulate well. But, I suppose better KNOW it is spot on than take a chance. I don;t thin mine has been more than ten degrees off level.
As you expand in volume it looks like SonoFresco Number Two can snuggle right in next to the one already there. Double your production in an instant.
Yes, the crew at SonoFresco ar great.. they really work hard to assure our success out there with their machines.

I almost envy you your everyday work environment… but San Diego brings with it “other factors” so I’m content here. Went to school down that way long before there was any freeway besides I 5.

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