John Weaver: The art of making coffee

Master coffee roaster John Weaver drinks his coffee black, and this is why.

One fateful day, Alfred Peet — the founder of Peet’s Coffee and Tea — knocked a steaming cup of coffee out of the hands of the then-20-something Weaver, who was simply doing what most coffee drinkers do: adding milk to the brown-black brew.

“You will not pour milk in my coffee!” Peet bellowed, according to Weaver, not because he was a tyrannical boss but because he strove for perfection.

“He was a great guy, but he made his point quickly,” Weaver said. “What he was trying to get across is you got to taste the coffee.”

And taste it Weaver did, for 27 years, under the astute leadership of the pioneering Peet and Sal Bonavita, former owner of Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

Now a master roaster in his own right, Weaver has struck out on his own. He founded Weaver’s Coffee & Tea just last month, only three months after the entrepreneur launched Wild Card Roasters with Michael Brown and Bryce Inouye.

“I now have freedom to roast specific coffees to what I see as the optimum flavor,” Weaver said.

Both companies focus on creating artisan quality coffee and teas, offering a limited selection of signature blends and two single-origin brews, one from Sumatra, the other from Peru. Both are fair-trade certified organic.

Weaver samples roughly 200 coffees per day, but to ensure that he sleeps at night, he doesn’t necessarily drink every sample.

“You slurp it off the spoon and spit into a spittoon,” Weaver says.

In fact, he says he only drinks one full cup in the morning, in order “to taste how the customer would taste it in the press pot.”

Weaver grew up in Greeley, Colo., and moved to Alameda in 1978 after graduating high school. He soon took a job with Peet’s Coffee & Tea to supplement his income while he studied art at California College of Arts and Crafts.

He still dabbles in the arts now and then, but now funnels most of his creative juices into the art of roasting and brewing beans.

“Coffee has been my creative outlet. I love it,” he said.

For now, Weaver’s coffees and teas are available for online sale only at www.weaverscoffee.com and www.wildcardroasters.com, with retail distribution a possibility at a later date.

Business

New projects: Weaver’s Coffee & Tea, Wild Card Roasters

Last project: Master roaster, Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Number of e-mails a day: 30+

Number of voice mails a day: 20+

Essential Web site: www.coffeereview.com

Best perk: Freedom to express myself in new ways

Gadgets: Coffee hook, tryer, tasting spoon

Education: 27 years of roasting coffee; apprenticed for four years under Alfred Peet

Last conference: Coffee Fest, Seattle

Original aspiration: To be an artist

Career objective: To be an entrepreneur in the coffee and tea industry

Personal

Sports/hobbies: Surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding

Transportation: BMW X5

Favorite restaurant: NOPA, San Francisco

Computer: Apple MacBook Pro

Vacation spot: Cabo San Lucas

Favorite clothiers: Banana Republic, Levi’s

Role Model: My parents

Reading: “Hawaii” by James Michener

Worst fear: Flying

Motivation: Cup perfection

Hometown: San Francisco

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