Seed to Cup

How Do We Source and Roast Our Coffee?

Switchback Coffee Roasters believes that coffee is special and the proper time should be taken to carefully handcraft this coffee into a beautiful creation. We believe that coffee should be cared for from the start, which is why we work with the best coffee producers and importers to find the best quality green coffee. We choose to roast it with the utmost care in hopes to share it with the world. 


We are always on the lookout for fresh new coffees and make it a priority to keep quality, consistency, and accessibility present throughout the buying process. 
Our coffees are some of the best because we source the highest of quality green coffee and roast them to their highest potential. Roasting coffee is a process and we understand it takes time to create the best cup of coffee, which is why we spend hours tasting through hundreds of coffees so that we can bring you the best. The coffees we choose could present an incredible natural expression of terroir, encompass exciting and unusual flavors, or simply be a great cup of coffee. However, they all have one thing in common - they excite us beyond no end.
Coffee is more than just a drink, each cup holds an incredible story and a chain of passionate human beings all working together to produce something extraordinary. Because of this, we ensure that we work with importers and producers that share the same values as us. One of our most important values is sustainability, making it something we look for in coffee producers and importers. We hope to cultivate a sustainable business, whether that is partnering with environmentally conscious farmers or paying a livable wage to coffee pickers. These practices preserve the future of the coffee industry and protect the livelihood of the millions of people that work in the coffee industry across the world. Ensuring that we have sustainable practices requires transparency, which is why all of our coffee can be traced back to a single farm or co-operative.


Coffee roasting is the artful process of transforming raw, green coffee beans into the aromatic and flavorful roasted beans we brew to make our beloved cup of coffee. During roasting, the beans undergo a carefully controlled heating process that triggers a series of chemical reactions, unlocking the complex flavors and enticing aromas hidden within.

As coffee roasters, we strive to highlight the flavors that are naturally inherent in our coffees. We believe that coffee contains its full potential the moment it is picked from the coffee tree and our job through the roasting process is to keep as much of that potential as possible. We ensure we properly develop our coffees during the roast, by locking in complexity and sweetness, but avoiding over roasting so you can taste the coffee not the roast. 

We carefully monitor the temperature and time to achieve the desired roast level. Through this process, we have found that coffee roasting is a delicate balance of science and craftsmanship, as we strive to bring out the unique nuances of different coffee origins and varieties. The process requires expertise, intuition, and an acute understanding of the beans' reactions to heat. 

As a result, we craft deliciously sweet, vibrant, and complex coffees for everyone to enjoy, everyday. Get a more in depth look at the complete process below. 

The Journey from Seed to Cup

The Coffee Cherry

A coffee cherry, also known as a coffee fruit, is the vibrant and intriguing fruit of the coffee plant. It starts as a small, green, and unassuming berry growing on coffee shrubs, typically in tropical regions around the world. As the cherries ripen, they undergo a captivating transformation, turning shades of red, yellow, or even purple, depending on the coffee variety.
The coffee cherry consists of several distinct layers: the outer skin, known as the exocarp, the sweet and sticky pulp called the mesocarp, and a thin, protective layer known as the parchment or endocarp. Inside the parchment layer lie two coffee seeds, commonly referred to as coffee beans, nestled facing each other.
When the coffee cherries reach their peak ripeness, they are handpicked or mechanically harvested, depending on the farm's practices. The cherries' flavors can vary greatly depending on the processing method employed, whether it's the bright and clean taste of washed coffee, the fruity sweetness of natural coffee, or the unique attributes of honey or semi-washed coffees.
The journey from coffee cherry to the delightful cup of coffee we savor involves intricate steps, including careful harvesting, processing, drying, and finally roasting the beans to perfection. This humble fruit holds the potential for a wide range of flavor profiles, making it a captivating and essential element in the world of coffee production and enjoyment.


Coffee processing is a crucial step in transforming freshly harvested coffee cherries into the beloved beverage enjoyed worldwide. The process significantly impacts the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of the final cup. There are several distinct coffee processing methods, each with its unique characteristics and effects on the beans. Each coffee processing method imparts specific flavors and characteristics to the beans, making it an essential factor in the diversity of coffee tastes found around the world. Additionally, the climate, altitude, soil, and varietals grown in a particular region also influence the overall flavor profile of the coffee, creating a vast array of possibilities for coffee enthusiasts to explore.

Natural Process

In the natural process, coffee cherries are left to dry in the sun, and the beans dry within the fruit. The cherries are spread out on patios or raised beds, and the drying process can take several weeks. As the cherries dry, the fruit imparts unique flavors to the beans. Natural process coffees often exhibit a fruity, sweet, and full-bodied profile with lower acidity.

Washed Process

The washed process involves removing the outer skin (cherry pulp) from the coffee cherries using water and fermentation. After harvesting, the cherries are pulped, and the beans, still covered in a sticky mucilage layer, are soaked in water for up to 48 hours. During this fermentation period, enzymes break down the mucilage. Finally, the beans are thoroughly washed and left to dry in the sun or using mechanical dryers. Washed coffees tend to be clean, bright, and have a more distinct acidity.

Honey Process

The honey process is a hybrid between the washed and natural methods. After pulping the cherries, some or all of the sticky mucilage is intentionally left on the beans during drying. The amount of mucilage left can vary, resulting in different honey process variations—red, yellow, black, etc.—each with distinct flavor profiles. Honey processed coffees often offer a balanced combination of characteristics found in both washed and natural coffees.

Sorting and Rating

Coffee sorting and rating are essential steps in the coffee production process, aimed at ensuring the highest quality beans reach consumers' cups. These procedures are typically conducted at coffee mills or processing facilities after the cherries have been harvested and processed.
Coffee sorting involves the meticulous separation of coffee beans based on their size, density, and quality. This is usually done using vibrating screens, gravity tables, and air jets, which help separate the beans by size and weight.
After sorting, the coffee beans undergo a thorough rating process, also known as cupping. Cupping involves roasting small samples of the beans and then brewing them in carefully controlled conditions. Professional tasters, known as cuppers, evaluate the brewed coffee based on various criteria, including aroma, flavor, acidity, body, and aftertaste. The cupping process allows experts to assess the coffee's overall sensory profile and identify any defects or undesirable qualities.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has established a standardized scoring system for rating coffee, known as the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel. Scores are typically given on a scale of 80 to 100, with coffees scoring 80 or above considered to be of specialty grade, indicating exceptional quality and unique characteristics.
Coffee sorting and rating are vital in maintaining consistency and quality in the coffee industry. They play a significant role in helping farmers, producers, and buyers understand the value of their coffee and ensure that consumers can enjoy a delightful and memorable coffee experience with each cup.

Small Batch Testing

Our roasters begin roasting and cupping limited quantities of coffee beans for evaluation and analysis. This process allows  us to experiment with different roast profiles to fine-tune the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of the coffee. It ensures that the best-tasting roast profile is selected for larger production, guaranteeing an excellent and consistent coffee experience for our guests.

The Final Stages

Bagging coffee is the final step in the coffee production process, where freshly roasted coffee beans are carefully packaged in bags for distribution and retail. This crucial process ensures that the beans retain their freshness, flavor, and aroma until they reach your hands. The bags are designed to provide a protective barrier against external elements like air, light, and moisture, which can degrade the coffee's quality over time. Properly bagged coffee preserves its unique characteristics, allowing you to enjoy a rich and satisfying cup every time you brew. Whether it's whole bean or ground coffee, the packaging is a vital aspect that plays a significant role in maintaining the beans' optimal freshness and ensuring we always are providing Excellent Coffee, for Everyone.