Where do coffee beans come from?

This is the first is a multi-part series on coffee to help educate our customers.

First, there are two types of coffee beans

Coffee beans come from two basic versins of coffee plants: either the Robusta ( aka Coffea robusta, or Coffea canephora) or Arabica (aka Coffea arabica) version.

At Toomer’s Coffee Roasters we do not roast or sell Robusta beans. I once asked our coffee broker how much Robusta they sell and she said less that 5% of their total volume is Robusta. While it is higher in caffeine content (the main reason I guess a dubious roaster might add it..to jack up the “vibrancy” of their blends), the overall taste issues and roasting peculiarities she said make it a less than desirable option.

Arabica beans on the other hand, while lower in caffeine content have a number of factors that make them the number #1 preference amongst 99% of roasters today, taste being the main factor.  But we will cover that in a later articel specifically on Arabica beans.

They start life as a fruit


Coffee beans start out "Cherries" (Click to enlarge)

Arabica beans are grown on low (3-6 feet) shrubby plants that bear white blossoms that produce the coffee fruit called “cherries” (about the size and color of cranberries).

These coffee cherries are clustered along the limbs of the plant ( See image).  The cherries are harvested from approximately October through January each year.  Since the coffee cherries do not ripen together, several pickings of the the same plant may be required until all of the cherries have been harvested at the peak of ripenness.

This is the first step in the chain of factors that seperates fair coffee from truly exceptional coffee: only picking the red cherries.  Mixing in under-ripe/ greenish cherries with red cherries will result in bitter coffee no matter how well it is roasted.

In our next article we will talk about the regions beans are grown in and how that affects flavor.

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Get to know Auburn’s Coffee Roaster


Roast Master, Sandy Toomer checks the progress of each roast step by step to perfection!

From the beginning we felt the only way we could keep our product consistent with our own expectations would be  by roasting our own coffee.  We like to think of ourselves as a coffee roaster first and a coffee shop second.  The shop is where we display our craft, much as first class art gallery is a show place for fine art.

That said here is a short FAQ about our coffee roasting operation:

What exactly do you mean by “custom roasted”?

Just that; we roast using customized roast profiles for each coffee depending on where it was grown, the altitude and process used to process the bean (i.e wet or dry process) .  Profiles are similar to recipes, except there is only one ingredient, high grade Arabica coffee beans.  The customization is the way each bean is roasted by varying several factors such as time, temperature, length of roast.

Where do you get your beans?

We primarily work through a coffee brokerage firm who imports coffee from all over the world for us.  They buy various grades from each country and we in turn choose which beans we buy based on their offering.

However this year we are working on several import arrangements with a number of small family, tribal and community coop coffee farms in Central America and the Asiatic region to purchase their coffees direct.  This is what we call Friendship Coffee.  Our goal is develop a personal relationship with our farms in these regions.

If all goes well, someday we hope to offer tours to visit these new friends!

Currently we are test roasting and cupping to validate sample batches of these coffees.

How do you roast coffee?

First, someone has to teach you.  It’s a craft. A craft is a passionate enterprise and we are passionate about good coffee.

Sandy was taught by Mr. Stephen Diedrich at Diedrich Manufacturing in Sandpoint, Idaho.  In the beginning Diedrich Coffee Roasters was a Southern, California icon of custom roasted coffee for decades (read more).  They built their own coffee roasters and eventually branched their coffee roaster manufacturing off as a separate enterprise. Hence, today we have Diedrich Manufacturing; considered the Rolls Royce of roasters.  We use a Diedrich 7 kilo IR Roaster.

Next, you buy the best green Arbica coffee beans.  We currently work through an acclaimed broker in New York and import coffees from:

Sumatra and Papua New Guinea (Indonesia)
Tanzania, Kenya ,and Ethiopia (Africa)
Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Columbia and Brazil (Central & So. America)

We also have our own house blends, such as top seller, our Auburn City Blend, Christmas Morning (seasonal), Harvest Morning (seasonal) and of course our proprietary Espresso Blend (for espresso based drinks).

In addition we offer a half dozen flavored coffees: Vermont Maple Nut, Snickeroo, Southern Pecan, Kahlua & Creme, Vanilla Butter Cream, and our own blend called Caribbean Cruise

Give us a try and you will taste the 14 day difference

The primary variation between our coffees and what you typically buy in the store has to do with the 14 day window.

When you roast coffee the heating initiates a chemical reaction that generally lasts for 14 days.  This is why so many coffees are packages with those valves you see.  Because for the first 14 days or so after roasting the coffee produces it’s trademark aroma.  Without the valve the bag would rupture.  After 14 days, that stops.

The trademark aromas range from chocolate, fruity, winy, floral notes, and so on.  Actually each coffee will normally produce a range of aromatic values in each cup.

You don’t get this in mass produced coffees.

We ship anywhere anywhere!

Want to share some of this unique taste from the “loveliest village on the plains”?    However if you are looking for another not listed, just call us.  We’re a family owned operation and thus you are dealing directly with the owners!


Call us today!  334-329-9852