Berkeley Co-Roasting provides everything necessary for small roasters to prepare their beans. Photo courtesy: Berkeley Co-Roasting
Berkeley Co-Roasting provides everything necessary for small roasters to prepare their beans. Photo courtesy: Berkeley Co-Roasting

Uptown Kitchen. The Berkeley KitchensPort Kitchens. Kitchener. The East Bay has a growing legion of upstart shared kitchen spaces for small food businesses, but has had little in the way of shared coffee roasting space — until now.

Berkeley Co-Roasting (BCR) is a new shared coffee roasting facility at 2322 Fifth St. Operated by the four-person team of Paul Goldstone, Tim Hansen, Michael Pappas and Floy Andrews, the facility intends to “offer specialty coffee roasters and inviting light-filled and spacious hub for creating, roasting, and processing their artisanal coffee products,” according Andrews, BCR’s business manager. Roasters can lease space by the hour, half day or full day.

The facility’s address may be a familiar one to eagle-eyed Berkeleyside readers — until the beginning of September, it was the sole home of Supersonic Coffee Roasters. Goldstone, who owns the building, was an investor in the Supersonic brand, and had originally brought Supersonic co-founder John Laird into the facility. The two officially ended their business relationship at the beginning of this month, but Supersonic has stayed on to roast at BCR.

“This move has taken place to enable Supersonic to pursue their future objectives with complete creative and strategic independence,” said Supersonic co-founder Björg Brend Laird in a prepared statement. “It is essential for the success of any partnership to clearly align on the objectives and expectations of the brand, and in the absence of such an alignment, it is in the best interest for all parties involved to go their separate ways.”

Andrews told NOSH that Goldstone had a larger vision for the building. Supersonic had only been using the roasting equipment one or two days a week, and “we wanted to open the door to the new roasters budding in the area,” she said. “We wanted to make the best use of the facility and have the equipment running every day.”

Brend Laird says that the new arrangement will allow for a substantial decrease in overhead and “allows Supersonic to put more of [its] energy toward inspiring work with a focus on the future,” including a still-in-the-works retail shop.

Supersonic has been working with BCR to create a facility “where small and new start-up roasters can establish themselves,” said Brend Laird. Two other roasting companies, including Paramo Coffee, have joined up at BCR, and Andrews says that they are in conversation with a few other potential tenants. BCR could handle up to 10 different roasting companies, she said.

Supersonic Coffee. Photo courtesy: Supersonic
John Laird of Supersonic Coffee roasts beans at the Berkeley Co-Roasting facility. Photo: Supersonic Coffee

Inside BCR are two production coffee roasters, a Loring Kestrel 35 and a Probat P5, plus a quality control lab, cupping room for tastings, sample roasters, grinders and brewing equipment, including a La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine.

Andrews and the rest of the BCR team hope to open up the facility to hobby roasters in addition to professionals. The cupping room and sample roasters will be available for area coffee shops to provide barista training, and BCR also plans to hold roasting classes. “We’re thinking about it as a coffee academy plus a roasting facility,” she said.

In addition, BCR plans to provide logistical support for its member roasters. It will provide receiving and storage for green beans, will weigh and fill packaging equipment, and will supply shipping station completely with packaging supplies.

“You don’t often think about it,” said Andrews, “but it is very difficult to manage green beans. You’re getting deliveries of big pallets of a very heavy product and that’s hard to deal with. Offering the green bean storage and receiving is a big deal.”

BCR is considering the option to eventually include a retail shop, but has not so far set any official plans in motion. “If we do add a retail concept, it will be rooted in the products that are made here,” said Andrews. She added that BCR will continue to evaluate what is needed as more roasters join up.

In short, the facility should be a boon to upstart businesses. “Berkeley Co-Roasting really does provide all of the resources needed to run a roasting company for anybody who wants to get into it,” said Andrews.

She and the rest of the BCR team also hope that the facility will be a true incubator for small businesses. “We’re hoping folks will come and create community together,” she said. “We hope they learn from each other, bounce ideas off of one another, and make business deals together.”

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Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...