Sightglass Coffee: Roasted in San Francisco

By / Photography By Katrina Ohstrom | January 15, 2015
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Sightglass Production Roaster Juan Manuel Elias
Sightglass Production Roaster Juan Manuel Elias shows the change in color from green coffee beans to perfectly roasted ones.

Founded in 2009, Sightglass quickly became one of the Bay Area’s best-known roasters and a major player in the American artisan coffee renaissance. Currently roasting up to 16 different coffees and supplying their wares to cafés all over the country, Sightglass is fully engaged in every stage of the process.

The process begins with nurturing direct-trade relationships with Sightglass’s farmer partners in Latin America, Africa and the Pacific Islands, allowing the sourcing team to evaluate the harvest, processing and export of the beans. Back home in San Francisco, the roasting team figures out how to bring out the unique attributes of each coffee. For production roaster Juan Manuel Elias, who has been with Sightglass for three years, the best part of his job is “the overall experience of roasting. It’s a sensory experience. You’re constantly looking and smelling the coffee itself as it goes through different stages of the roast and developing into an excellent roast. Being able to help produce a great cup of coffee for someone to enjoy is really gratifying.”

Sightglass has two cafés—one in the SOMA district and one in the Mission. The beautiful, cavernous SOMA location features a full espresso bar, a small retail area selling brewing gear and accessories, and a lofted seating area up above the bustle where the public can relax with a drink and a book or plug in and do some work. The Mission location is smaller and has more of a neighborhood café feel, but with the help of a small vintage roaster, manages to roast all beans in-house, including Jerboa’s Jump, an espresso blend exclusive to the Mission location.

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