Best Specialty Coffee Roasters in California

12 Best Specialty Coffee Roasters in California – 2023

When you stop and think about California, what comes to mind is probably the gorgeous vineyards and the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge.

However, did you know that California is also an ideal location for finding fantastic coffee?

The best specialty coffee roasters in California are Cat & Cloud, Equator Coffees, Verve Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Go Get Em Tiger, West Coast Roasting, Klatch Coffee Roasting, Mostra Coffee, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, Red Bay Coffee, HoneyCo Coffee Roasters, and Flywheel Coffee Roasters.

To help make the selection easier, I’ve compiled a list of my all-time favorite California coffee roasters in no particular order.

I’ve provided a bit of background for each roaster and some information on what they offer.

Let’s get started!

1. Cat & Cloud

Cat & Cloud opened its first coffee shop in Santa Cruz on Portola Avenue with a mere eight employees and the hopes and dreams to share an abundant love for coffee with the world.

The three founders, Chris Baca, Jared Truby, and Charles Jack, have a deep passion for coffee that prompted them to create the cafe.

Today, you can find them in four convenient locations. They’ve also grown into having their own roastery. 

You can find every type of coffee that suits your brewing style, including espresso, drip coffee, and cold brew.

If you’re not close to any of Cat & Cloud’s locations, don’t worry, they ship out orders every weekday.

Also, if you are a coffee enthusiast, tune in to the founders’ podcast and YouTube channel for the country’s most popular coffee-related entertainment source. 

Pack Sizes10oz/2.2lb/5lb (295.73 g/0.99kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$14.25+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

2. Equator Coffees

With a business idea based on the concept that coffee can be better, Equator Coffees was established in a Marin County garage in 1995.

The founders believed coffee could be roasted, sourced, and brewed better.

The company became a source of impressive coffee, focusing on sustainability while providing customers with top-tier quality.

The original idea for starting the roastery came from co-founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, being disgusted with the overall dealings with coffee roasters at the time they were operating their coffee carts.

They sold their carts and began their own roasting business with a tabletop roaster.

Their goal was to conduct all of their business with absolute transparency. 

Since their small start, they’ve expanded to eight cafes throughout western California.

Through the tradition of fair trade, they support improving the quality of life in coffee-growing areas worldwide.

Pack Sizes12oz/2lb/5lb (354.88gl/0.90kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$15.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

3. Verve Coffee

Ryan O’Donovan and Colby Barr opened the very first Verve Cafe in 2007, located on 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz.

Today, it’s become a far-reaching chain across California and even into Japan. 

The pair believe in sustainable sourcing and, to support this endeavor, have begun what is known as the Farmlevel Initiative.

An example is the Nursery Project, which they conducted in Colombia.

They planted 60,000 seedlings that show a lot of promise for smallholder producers.

By making such a positive impact on the lives of these farmers, O’Donovan and Barr are making vast improvements to the coffee industry as a whole.

Verve Coffee is also credited with helping bring in the third wave of coffee in which coffee drinkers became more in tune with where their coffee was sourced from and how it was roasted. 

Ryan started as a worker at all the big-name coffee chains and became the first coffee geek friend Colby had.

Together they decided to open their first shop in Santa Cruz when Ryan decided he was moving there.

Their first significant break came when vacationers from New York bought some of their product, taking it back to their friends who owned Cafe Grumpy.

Those friends would become the pair’s first regular clients for quite some time.

Pack Sizes12oz/2.2lb/5lb (354.88 g/0.99kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$17.75+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

4. Blue Bottle Coffee

W. James Freeman took a page from history when he named Blue Bottle Coffee after the first cafe in Central Europe – The Blue Bottle Coffee House.

The business was initially opened in response to Freeman’s disappointment with the overall coffee trade.

He found beans overly roasted and often stale, providing a less desirable taste for the drinker.

He sought to change everything by selling his beans within 24 hours of roasting and delivering a quality product to each customer.

While the business no longer operates in this format, you’ll still get sustainably sourced coffee roasted to perfection.

The only thing you need to do is ensure you have your grinder ready to go.

Today, Blue Bottle Coffee still roasts coffee to order at all of its own roasteries worldwide.

They’re also well-known for creating the perfect custom roast that expresses each individual coffee’s flavor profile perfectly.

Blue Bottle Coffee also makes every effort to provide customers with certified organic coffees and only rarely has a product that is an exception to this rule.

Pack Sizes6oz/12oz (177.44/354.88 g)
Bag Price$15.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Whole Bean
Subscription Service?Yes

5. Go Get Em Tiger

The original cafe in Los Angeles has become one of the most prominent on the city’s coffee scene.

Co-founders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski first debuted an espresso bar in 2012, quickly expanding to become the full-scale coffee shop known as Go Get Em Tiger by 2013.

Babinski left the company in 2020 but retained his status as co-owner. 

A unique feature that sets these roasters apart is the ability they give you to order directly from a bar instead of waiting in a long line.

The ultimate goal of the entire setup is to make customers feel welcome while they partake in a divine cup of coffee roasted specially for the occasion.

When you order your coffee from Go Get Em Tiger, you’ll never have to worry about another bad-tasting cup of coffee again.

The cafe is designed with the customer in mind, doing everything to make them feel at ease while they sip their espressos.

You’ll find the same modern chairs and stools inside and out, delicately merging the two spaces.

The entire experience of getting a coffee from one of the Go Get Em Tiger locations is uplifting and refreshing.

Pack Sizes12oz (354.88 g)
Bag Price$17.50+
Whole Bean or Ground?Ground
Subscription Service?Yes

6. West Coast Roasting

Founders Nate and Melissa were the start of the third-wave coffee roaster scene in Los Angeles when they opened the doors of West Coast Roasting in 2005.

Ever since, they’ve been hand roasting their coffee beans, expertly bringing out the flavor of each coffee they sell. 

If you order today, they’ll work their magic, roasting and shipping via Priority Mail on the same day. 

Pack Sizes1lb (0.45 kg)
Bag Price$19.95+
Whole Bean or Ground?Whole Bean
Subscription Service?No

7. Klatch Coffee Roasting

Opened in 1993, Klatch Coffee Roasting is family-owned and operated. It started with just one store in Rancho Cucamonga.

Today, they’ve expanded to own eight cafes and a worldwide roasting operation. 

Mike Perry, the family’s resident roastmaster, travels the world building relationships with coffee farmers to ensure that Klatch gets the first look at every crop.

Strong bonds are formed with the farmers through open and honest practices, ensuring that the best trades are always made possible.

Klatch doesn’t settle for anything but the best beans available. 

Once the beans are sourced, Mike uses his expertise as a Chemical Engineer to find every bean’s exact peak flavor profile.

You’re guaranteed a great cup of coffee when you buy your beans from Klatch.

Pack Sizes11 oz/2lb/5lb (310 g/0.90kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$16.95+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

8. Mostra Coffee

Mostra Coffee has a very unique origin. Jeylynn Malone and Beverly Magtanong, two founders, went on a trip to their home country, Philippines, where they built homes for the less fortunate.

Throughout the trip, they both kept returning to the idea of developing a business that would benefit the world.

The two partnered with Beverly’s husband Sam and their friend Mike Arquines.

The four developed Mostra Coffee with a mission to give back. They did this in two ways.

First, they sourced their coffee from the Philippines, which was not a well-known coffee-producing area.

Second, they promoted education and training to help turn jobs into careers.

In addition to producing quality coffee, you’ll only find smiling, genuinely happy people to take care of you when you stop for a cup.

Pack Sizes14oz/2lb/5lb (414.02g/0.90kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$24.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

9. Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Established in 2011 by Trish Rothgeb and Nicholas Cho, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters is one of the premier coffee locations in San Francisco. 

Trish has accumulated more than 30 years of industry experience that she has put to good use developing the business.

She’s even generally accepted as the person who coined the term third-wave coffee.

Nick was the founder of Murky Coffee in the Washington, D.C. area, which ended up being one of the most prestigious coffee bars.

Today, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters is most well-known for sustainably sourcing and expertly roasting their coffee.

You’re guaranteed fresh beans when you order because they handle the roasting and packaging.

Less than 24 hours after roasting, your beans will be on their way to you.

Moreover, they will be sealed in compostable air-tight bags within one hour of roasting to protect the flavor.

Pack Sizes12oz/2lb/5lb (354.88g/0.90kg/2.26kg)
Bag Price$20.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Whole Bean
Subscription Service?Yes

10. Red Bay Coffee

The self-proclaimed forefront of the fourth wave of coffee, Red Bay Coffee seeks to lead the way to have the coffee industry be a method of increasing diversity, inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Founded in 2014 by Keba Konte, a locally known artist and entrepreneur, this roaster strives to bring specialty coffee making to those that have been left out.

You won’t be disappointed when you order your coffee from Red Bay Coffee.

They only roast in small batches, achieving perfection every time.

Then, they ship the finished product out immediately to guarantee its freshness when it reaches your doorstep.  

From its humble beginnings in Konte’s home, Red Bay Coffee has expanded to have international headquarters to extend its global reach.

The headquarters features a Cupping Lab and Design Studio.

Pack Sizes12oz/1kilo/5lb (354.88g/2.20lb/2.26kg)
Bag Price$19.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Whole Bean
Subscription Service?Yes

11. HoneyCo Coffee Roasters

In San Luis Obispo, HoneyCo Coffee Roasters was founded by Jon and Sara Peterson.

They opened the doors in 2015, following the establishment of their first Scout Coffee shop. 

They aim to please you by offering a wide variety of flavors that will satisfy nearly every coffee drinker.

Despite their success, the pair are still deeply involved with the roasting process, which they have perfected for each type of bean. 

Pack Sizes12oz/1kilo/5lb (354.88g/2.20lb/2.26kg)
Bag Price$15.25+
Whole Bean or Ground?Both
Subscription Service?Yes

12. Flywheel Coffee Roasters

Full of character because of its location in the historic Haight-Ashbury district, Flywheel Coffee Roasters promises an excellent cup of coffee because of the staff’s superb roasting and brewing techniques.

Founder Aquiles Guerrero was born in Nicaragua and was raised on a coffee farm, where he learned everything from picking to roasting. 

Family-owned and operated, you’ll notice tight-knit relationships when you walk in.

The entire operation aims to bring each customer perfection in a cup. 

Their shop is quite unique, featuring reclaimed wood as a way to reduce their environmental footprint.

The ultimate goal was to establish a fantastic location beyond everything you could imagine in a coffee shop, going above and beyond what is found in the standard cafe design.

Pack Sizes12oz (354.88 gl)
Bag Price$18.00+
Whole Bean or Ground?Whole Bean
Subscription Service?No


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