HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Cogitations on recent publicity (12 msgs / 427 lines)
1) From: Bill Zambon
BusinessWeek Online- then the reprint posted here yesterday...
If memory serves, the article stated that Sweet Maria's sells 400,000 pounds
of coffee a year, and seems to be an order of magnitude ahead of its closest
competitor...
So... a wild and optimistic guess suggests that home roasters "may" account
for a million pounds of beans a year....... hardly a mainstream thing, given
that the country has 300 million folk.
Hmmm... the average American buys about 1/20th of an ounce of greens a year.
I think I can account for the consumption of about 10,000 Americans, and
many of you can account for even more.
Bottom line: if the article results in even a miniscule percentage of
curious people ordering a sampler pack from SweetMaria's, we may have a
problem finding what we want online.
... which is great for SweetMaria's! Quality wins out.
... but it may be frustrating for us for the next few months.
- a problem I hope we have to endure, to be sure.
Bill Z
-- 
William R. Zambon
First Presbyterian Church, Wyandotte MI
(734) 282-3160
(734) 272-7062  cell

2) From: Dan Bollinger
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Well, if you only buy sampler packs, then yes, you may have a problem =
getting those!  How does Quality run out, exactly?  Through a hole in =
the bucket?  :)   If you mean qualilty may suffer I'd say no. Because =
increased sales means Thom can buy larger lots of better coffee and =
afford to travel more for cuppings and networking. We will have MORE =
high quality coffee available to us, not less. Also, more sellers will =
take notice of Sweet Marias as their puchases increase.  All good =
things. The only downside, if you can call it that, is that Sweet Marias =
may be hiring.  
Dan
  Bottom line: if the article results in even a miniscule percentage of =
curious people ordering a sampler pack from SweetMaria's, we may have a =
problem finding what we want online. 
  ... which is great for SweetMaria's! Quality wins out. 
  ... but it may be frustrating for us for the next few months.
  - a problem I hope we have to endure, to be sure. 
  Bill Z
  -- 
  William R. Zambon
  First Presbyterian Church, Wyandotte MI
  (734) 282-3160
  (734) 272-7062  cell 

3) From: Bill Zambon
Dan...
I said "Quality wins out", not "Quality runs out".
Dennis...
While the longterm prospects are as you outline, short-term may be a bit
different, given the lag between Tom's decision to order and the arrival of
shipment. And quality beans cannot be snapped up in an instant.
Bill Z
-- 
William R. Zambon
First Presbyterian Church, Wyandotte MI
(734) 282-3160
(734) 272-7062  cell

4) From: mikeraz
True, Dennis W. FC1 (CVN69) wrote:
<Snip>
Sweet Maria's has competition?  :)
Who does Tom/SM bid against?  Other green suppliers? Brokers for specialty
coffee houses (Stumptown, Allen Brothers, Cafe Mam for Oregon examples)?
-- 
      Michael Rasmussen, Portland Oregon  
    Be appropriate && Follow your curiosityhttp://fut.patch.com/">http://www.patch.com/words/orhttp://fut.patch.com/
  The fortune cookie says:
Keep a diary and one day it'll keep you.
		-- Mae West

5) From: Brian Kamnetz
Michael,
Competition comes from many sources. Tom occasionally refers to competition,
and mentions one here:
"Uganda can do a lot better than this, but has been a commercial-grade
coffee origin for too long. As always, I cup all the array of samples I can
get, including a couple compelling offerings that came direct from
smallholder farms. But as of yet (March 06) I haven't found one that rose to
the occasion. Sadly, there was one nice Organic lot that arrived in January
that I really liked, but the container was pre-sold to a large roaster who
was simply going to blend with it. There was nothing I could do... "http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.africa.uganda.htmlBrian
On 11/26/06, Michael Rasmussen  wrote:
<Snip>

6) From: True, Dennis W. FC1 (CVN69)
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
But Greater Business for Tom means more cash flow and he can bid on
bigger lots for all of us so some of our favorites will remain in stock
longer!!!
not to mention he will have greater bargining power at the auctions to
out bid some of the compention.
My 2 Cents!
 
Dennis 
AKA 
FC1(SW) Dennis W. True 
CS/CS-5 
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) 
FPO AE 09532-2830 
Man of many hats! 
HG/DB and Z&D roasting in the Indian Ocean 
 "On station and on point 159 and counting down..." 
"Direct support for troops on the ground is only a call away in support
of Operation Eagle!" 
 
 
 
BusinessWeek Online- then the reprint posted here yesterday...
If memory serves, the article stated that Sweet Maria's sells 400,000
pounds of coffee a year, and seems to be an order of magnitude ahead of
its closest competitor... 
So... a wild and optimistic guess suggests that home roasters "may"
account for a million pounds of beans a year....... hardly a mainstream
thing, given that the country has 300 million folk.
Hmmm... the average American buys about 1/20th of an ounce of greens a
year. 
I think I can account for the consumption of about 10,000 Americans, and
many of you can account for even more.
Bottom line: if the article results in even a miniscule percentage of
curious people ordering a sampler pack from SweetMaria's, we may have a
problem finding what we want online. 
... which is great for SweetMaria's! Quality wins out. 
... but it may be frustrating for us for the next few months.
- a problem I hope we have to endure, to be sure. 
Bill Z
-- 
William R. Zambon
First Presbyterian Church, Wyandotte MI
(734) 282-3160
(734) 272-7062  cell 

7) From: Aaron
Before we go foretelling our doom because SM's might get some more 
business from an article, consider this....
I sincerely doubt Tom is going to reduce his standards of excellence 
just because he now has more orders to process..
Just because he *might* have more money, does not mean that instantly 
the beans are going to be there to his satisfaction (read... up to his 
standards).  Some of these places I am going to venture a guess and say 
only have so much coffee to begin with, and of that, only a small amount 
is up to standards, so it might not be available anyways.
I doubt our 'favorites' will stay in stock longer, as the only way he is 
getting more money is more people buying coffee, which means they will 
also be ordering 'your favorite' so the longevity .vs. amount originally 
bought is probably going to pretty much balance itself out.
I still don't see a 'favorite' selling out in a day or two, and we can 
still get our 'goodies'.  It might not last two months like some do, but 
more like a month perhaps... lesson here, if you want it, get it now, 
why wait, the price isn't going to drop, it's not going to go on sale, 
just get it and you wont have to worry.
Finally, Tom did not start out selling 400Klb a year, he built himself 
up to this level.  Granted I have not been with him from the start or 
even a member of this list from it's start but so far, tom seems to be 
handling his 'growth' pretty well and I haven't noticed any 'growing 
pains'....  Hell, the only growing pains I have had were totally self 
inflicted at all the expensive stuff I have bought :)  TOTALLY my fault 
there.
Bottom line, I don't think we have anything to worry about, im sure Tom 
is seasoned enough that he can handle pretty much anything that may 
happen.  With Maria by his side, we'll be just fine, Ill bet on it.
Aaron

8) From: raymanowen
I honestly think Maria would like to bat you upside the head with a
bag of Robusta for saying, "[Tom can] afford to travel more."
Did you use your real name, or don't you care if Sweet Maria becomes
Imperial Maria?
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
Better watch your :30

9) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
You might be right Ray ... My perspective about the relation between 
obtaining quality coffee lots, and size (both of the lots, and of our 
business) is this: We are perfect as we are, right about in the 
middle. Now, what I mean by middle, is middle of the small-buyer 
category. We are not working out of a 2 car garage,  nor do we have 
20 people packing coffee. (We have 5). The lots I am interested in, 
we are able to buy. When I have a lot that is excessive in price, or 
a little too big for us alone, but I gotta have it because of cup 
quality, we have our little network of like-minded folks to call upon 
(namely, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, George Howell, Maruyama in Japan 
and Kaffa is Oslo). You may have noticed we share a few coffees with 
people in this group. Most of my exposure to bigger coffee buyers is 
on my trips, and what I see does not make me envious. First of all, 
the buyers aren't usually owners, and can't simply fall in love with 
a coffee and get it. They need to ask. And they have a problem with 
small lots, 8 bags, 12 bags, 15 bags. It requires a lot of work to 
sell small lots, and they aren't going to reprint all their material, 
and call up their web designer in order to feature a coffee that, in 
their world, is a drop in the bucket. Big buyers always have this 
nagging need to fill their production demand for coffee. They are 
oriented toward their ability to sell ... um, what I mean is their 
are very few that orient their ability to offer coffee strictly to 
the lot size of the quality coffee they can buy. Geez, it must be the 
turkey - I can't articulate it. All I know is what I do: buy coffee 
that I simply cannot live without, then offer it out until it is 
gone. If its a meager year for Harar, we are going to offer what I 
think is really good, and when it is gone suffer through the 
complaints (kidding, sort of) until there is another great Harar. If 
there isn't one, I won't have Harar again, period. If you are going 
to be honest with your senses, then you wouldn't want it again 
either, if it wasn't good. It's simple because it is just about the 
cup. This gets tricky when we switch to a coffee like Jamaica, that 
is mostly mediocre, then when I think it is unblemished, and has some 
sweetness or some distinct note (spice) I will offer it. Notice how 
long it has been since we had it? '05 I believe. But even then, I 
always feel a little odd offering it because all I am saying is that 
this is a good, mild example of the coffee, and has correct "Jamaica" 
character, not endorsing it as some life-changing coffee drinking 
experience. Anyway, I am drifting off topic here ...
Tom "enjoying the break before the storm" (ie christmas rush, 7 day 
work weeks, etc)
PS: in terms of that AP article and stuff, we usually don't see any 
significant bump in business from it. I mean, these are more 
curiousity pieces, newspaper filler. People who SHOULD be home 
roasters probably already know about it. Those who have never heard 
of it probably just scratch their heads and say "what the heck, 
Myrtle, look at what the weirdos are doing now".
<Snip>
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com

10) From: mikeraz
Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee wrote:
<Snip>
I'm thinking there are lots of "should be" home roasters out there that aren't.
Like, the entire population of home beer brewers, at least the ones who do it
for taste. They understand how you just can't buy some flavors commercially.  
They know the joy and satisfaction of doing it yourself.  They just don't know
about doing coffee.  It's not like you have a neighborhood roasting supply
store in every mid-to large sized city or a national organization promoting
home roasting. There is a population in that group that will see the AP
article and investigate home roasting.  
Compared to brewing beer roasting coffee is instant gratification with many of
the same pleasure points.  
-- 
      Michael Rasmussen, Portland Oregon  
    Be appropriate && Follow your curiosityhttp://fut.patch.com/">http://www.patch.com/words/orhttp://fut.patch.com/
  The fortune cookie says:
Why does a hearse horse snicker, hauling a lawyer away?
		-- Carl Sandburg

11) From: George Florian
This is an awesome example of how small businesses can compete and grow.
Also makes me feel good to be supporting and buying from SM. Knowing that it
is all about the cup and not the profit gives me confidence to explore other
offerings when my favorites are not in stock.
Thanks for giving us a place to get our fix. :)
All I know is what I do: buy coffee 
that I simply cannot live without, then offer it out until it is 
gone. If its a meager year for Harar, we are going to offer what I 
think is really good, and when it is gone suffer through the 
complaints (kidding, sort of) until there is another great Harar. If 
there isn't one, I won't have Harar again, period. If you are going 
to be honest with your senses, then you wouldn't want it again 
either, if it wasn't good. It's simple because it is just about the 
cup.

12) From: True, Dennis W. FC1 (CVN69)
I have read how he has gone in with other buyers to gets lots and yes
IIRC his is bidding against some of the other roasting houses.
I can not access the web to bring up what tom wrote but one of the
issues of the Tiny Joy News letter also talks about auctions.
And to reply to another email in the thread you are correct the short
term we may suffer but in the long term we will win out! As Tom will
have a larger purse and be able to get a lions share of those wonderful
crops. (at this point I must once agin thank Tom and crew for providing
us with a truly wonderful product)
Dennis
AKA
FC1(SW) Dennis W. True
CS/CS-5
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)
FPO AE 09532-2830
Man of many hats!
HG/DB and Z&D roasting in the Indian Ocean
 "On station and on point 158 and counting down..." 
"Direct support for troops on the ground is only a call away in support
of Operation Eagle!"


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