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Bellwether Launches ‘Roast Accelerator’ Program for Minority-Owned Businesses


A Bellwether coffee machine hopper. Daily Coffee News photo by Nick Brown.

Electric roaster maker Bellwether Coffee is currently accepting applications from Bay Area coffee companies for its new “Roast Accelerator” program, designed to remove financial barriers to Bellwether ownership among minority-owned businesses.

The San Francisco-based company has also announced the first recipient of the Roast Accelerator package, Atlanta’s Verb Coffee Roasters and its owner and coffee director, Mir Marshall.

The Roast Accelerator package gives selected businesses access to zero startup costs, subsidized financing for the first year, and access to Bellwether’s support services, according to the company.

The Bellwether system itself centers around a kitchen-refrigerator-sized electric roasting machine designed for use in commercial coffee shop settings, plus green coffee services as well as software and support for inventory management, roast profiling and monitoring, and more. The company claims the roasting machine itself results in “zero emissions.”

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Bellwether, which electrified the 2018 Specialty Coffee Expo before landing a $10 million funding round in 2018 and a $40 million round in 2019, said it launched the Roast Accelerator program to help build a more accessible and equitable coffee industry by supporting businesses that might typically experience financial barriers to roasting.

“We designed the program with the understanding that not all small business owners have the same opportunities when starting a business and believe that empowering diverse communities to sustainably source and roast their own coffee will create positive change for the entire coffee industry,” Bellwether Founder and CEO Ricardo Lopez said in an announcement of the program.


A Bellwether roaster. Daily Coffee News photo by Lily Kubota.

In choosing the first recipient of the Accelerator award, Bellwether turned to a committee composed of Chris McAuley of Getchusomegear; Iaisha Munnerlyn of MoodTea; and Jake King of Gyst Coffee.

The application for the second recipient asks that businesses be at least one year old, be based in the Bay Area, and have an owner who self-identifies as a member of a minority group. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2022.