While no business is “pandemic-proof,” 2021 yet again proved that the business of coffee roasting remains relatively low risk while allowing for online sales and incremental growth.
The proliferation of local co-roasting facilities throughout the United States helped to lower the startup capital barrier for many new businesses, while online roasting education, including Roast’s own Roast summit, continued to make information and skills-building more accessible.
Beyond the mere roasting of quality specialty coffee, the U.S. coffee industry saw a major shift in 2021: An influx of new roasting business and brands were led by people of color — some explicitly seeking social change within the industry or their own communities, and others simply reflecting an overdue correction in the industry.
Among the dozens of new U.S.-based roasted coffee brands we reported on in 2021, here’s a look back at just 21 of them, nearly half of which feature people of color in positions of ownership and leadership.
[Editor’s note: This feature is part of our ongoing 2021 year-end coverage. Click here for additional stories, updated daily through Dec. 31. You can also tell our editors about your new coffee shop or coffee roastery here.]
Offering an online subscription model with wholesale capacity from a shared roasting facility with a Loring S35 Kestrel in downtown Los Angeles, Be Bright was the creation of Los Angeles coffee veteran Frank La and scientist-turned-actress Michelle La, the star of the 2018 movie “Searching.”
The Black women-owned and operated company that made its mark providing stylish catered coffee service for corporate and community events throughout 2019 has maintained some service on the go, but it’s also now catering to the stay-at-home crowd through a new line of roasted coffee and related products.
While there are regrettably few Black women’s faces in the crowd of coffee business owners, there has only ever been one in the police department of Princeton, New Jersey. It belongs to Toni Mitchell, who is now standing tall in both crowds through the launch of her e-commerce coffee business, BLM Brew Co.
A new specialty coffee roaster on Florida’s Gulf Coast called Banyan Coffee Co. has been making its presence known in the Bradenton and Sarasota area through a converted 1984 Cushman Truckster.
Queen Coffee Bean focuses primarily on roasting and selling coffees grown in various parts of Africa through online sales, pop-up events and local markets, with the specific goal of supporting producers from the continent.
Two sisters born in Uganda and raised in the United States have launched Mutima Coffee, an online retail company offering high-quality coffees grown in the East African country.
The roasting operation found its start about a year after Canvas founders Daniel Haskett and Alex Hoyes opened the Canvas cafe in 2019. The duo went back to the easel, so to speak, creating a new vision for the business in broad strokes.
Two friends from humble beginnings who met while working white collar jobs in Washington D.C. have launched Black & Brown Coffee House, a minority-owned roasting brand with a focus on empowering coffee producers.
Now on the prowl for customers from its Illinois home base is Jaguar Coffee, a pandemic-propelled startup whose freshly roasted coffee also opens a window into the shared Mexican heritage and personalities of its co-founders Juan Vargas and Mario Estrada.
Former head roaster for Logan, Utah-based Caffe Ibis Shawn Passey has jolted into a new venture with partner Brooke Salt called Shooke Coffee.
A roasted coffee production, packing and cold brewing service provider called Coffee Support is setting up shop in a 40,000-square-foot industrial facility in Phoenix.
Sacramento, California-based Soulside Coffee has expanded its dual missions of preservation and progress, offering refurbished vintage espresso machines alongside freshly roasted coffee and fervent support for women in the coffee industry.
Beans and drums are now sharing the spotlight with strings and amps under the direction of professional guitar technician Robert Ortiz, who has launched Stage Right Coffee Co. (SRCC) in Southern California.
Southern California’s Brazil-connected S P L A Coffee has emerged from a transformative pandemic period with a new brand name, Aquarela Coffee, a new roasting operation and a renewed focus on single-origin Brazilian specialty coffees.
The founders of the California coffee equipment service company ABCEE have teamed up with the former head roaster for German coffee company Rahorik to launch Goat Racer Coffee Co.
A duet of professional musicians has launched Little Blue Trailer Coffee, a boutique specialty coffee roasting company based in Spokane, Washington.
Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Memoirs Coffee was launched in September by longtime coffee professional Rich Stone, whose own memories include scenes from the coffee production centers of coffee giants Keurig Green Mountain and Peet’s.
“As former baristas ourselves, we know that there’s not often a voice to advocate for the lowest wage earners, even in a small business,” Loom Coffee Co. Co-Founder Christopher Pierce told Daily Coffee News. “As a roastery, we hope to use our position to encourage cafe owners to pay a living wage, and also to realize the benefits that can bring to their business.”
A new day has dawned for coffee lovers in and around Birmingham, Alabama, with the opening of Daysol Coffee Lab. The small-batch roasting operation is inviting walk-in guests for samples or full cups of pure, unadulterated coffee, with an equally unobscured view of the roasting operation.
Seasoned coffee roaster Marty Lopes is exploring new turf with Terrain Coffee Project, which last month opened the doors to its first coffee shop in downtown Vancouver, Washington.
The family business comes from Jenny and Wee “Jin” Chiew, the latter possessing more than 15 years of experience in high-level specialty coffee. A certified Q Grader and recent U.S. Cup Tasters competitor, Jin Chiew was a barista-turned-roaster at Maryland-based Ceremony Coffee Roasters before accepting the title of head roaster at renowned Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Colorado.