Inside this java junkie’s paradise, the heady aroma only intensifies. Twenty-four hours a day and 250 pounds at a time, a giant roasting machine takes green beans imported from across Latin America and transforms them into an astonishing array of glistening browns.
Last year, Mayorga roasted over 1.5 million pounds of coffee, which found its ways into the company’s cafés and French presses across the country, and onto the shelves at Costco and Whole Foods.
The Montgomery County operation has come a long way since Martin Mayorga founded it back in 1996.
“I never thought I’d grow a business this size,” he says now. “It just kind of happened.”
Born in Guatemala and raised in Nicaragua, he was in his early 20s when he decided to become a bean baron. His first hurdle was figuring out how to get the best flavor out of the beans. Stateside methods didn’t impress him.
“East Coast roasting is wannabe West Coast roasting, which is wannabe Italian roasting,” he says. “It’s so watered down.”
So he immersed himself in learning the Latin American approach, which yields a deeply flavorful dark roast that doesn’t have a bitter bite at the finish. This approach ultimately helped him develop Mayorga’s most popular blend, Café Cubano.
“We get emails about it all the time,” he says. “That Latin-style roast gives it a lot of body and flavor, but keeps it nice and smooth.”
Photo of Martin Mayorga courtesy of Sanjay Sanchuk and Maryland Life.