Once a month in a small warehouse in north San Jose, a handful of family members behind Weekend Coffee Roasters gather to talk shop over—what else?—a cup of coffee. There’s Chris Marlow, the company president, and his brother Brandon, the CFO. Linnah, Brandon’s twin sister, is in charge of marketing and graphic design. Greg Melson, their cousin, is the head roaster. Stephanie Bryant, sister to Chris, Brandon, and Linnah, is the VP and buyer for the company. And Don Fort, another cousin, is in charge of operations.
Weekend Coffee Roasters sources the highest quality, fair trade beans to make a delicious cup of coffee. About five years ago, this burgeoning coffee roasting business began like many Silicon Valley startups: in a garage. Greg, a longtime coffee aficionado and addict, began buying beans and roasting small batches. They would often get together and visit coffee shops across northern California to discover how other roasters made coffee.
“We realized the best coffee was where they roasted their own beans,” Brandon says. This led them to strive to perfect their own roast, and in the process they eventually outgrew the garage and relocated their operations to a commercial space.
Weekend Coffee Roasters quickly went from a hobby to a family business. While everyone keeps day jobs, they spend weekends tending to business matters and roasting coffee—which explains how they got their name. Weekend meetings cover everything from roasting, grinding, and packaging their coffee to discussing business goals for the future. And sampling the latest flavor profiles that Greg has created.
Currently, Weekend Coffee can be purchased on Amazon and from their website. On occasion, they set up shop at events such as SJMADE markets. Their best-selling roast is the Costa Rica. While their company is small, they are working hard to change that. “It’s exciting because the coffee scene is still growing,” says Chris. Weekend Coffee is working to get their coffee into restaurants and cafes, as well as in stores like Whole Foods.
Ultimately, their goal is to open their own coffee shop and roastery in town. “It’s a San Jose phenomenon where people go somewhere else for culture other than San Jose,” says Greg. “We are local, and family, and trying to make coffee better.” They hope to create a space where coffee lovers can get their fix while supporting a local business. As head roaster, Greg is always looking to improve on his previous roasts, striving to develop new flavor profiles. “The roasting process is trial and error,” says Brandon.
“People are into Starbucks,” Chris says. “We want to elevate the customer’s taste.” They want their customers to know the difference between a mediocre cup of coffee and a great cup of coffee. This includes giving customers tips on how to pour a proper pour-over and constantly offering new kinds of coffee. They also work to educate themselves to gain as much knowledge in the coffee industry as they can, taking classes such as barista training, milk chemistry, and coffee tastings. Weekend Coffee plans to enter their Sumatra and Costa Rica coffees into tasting competitions to get feedback on their roasts and continue to improve.
Along with getting to know their customers, the folks behind Weekend Coffee like to get to know other roasters as well. “Some don’t want to share,” Brandon says, “But no one is going to roast a bean the same way.” They hope to eventually see the coffee scene in the Bay Area like that of the wine industry, where vintners are eager to share their knowledge with other vintners.
They still think San Jose’s coffee scene is in its infancy and has a long way to go. “It hasn’t grown as I thought it would,” says Greg. “But we want to change that.”
Written by Flora Moreno de Thompson
Photography by Stanley Olszewski
This article originally appeared in Issue 8.1 Sight and Sound.