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Sweet Maria's Coffee

Tom's recordings about coffee from West Oakland, CA and beyond.

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Cupping and Talking About The Taste Lexicon of Coffee

Tom and Chris Schooley cup coffee in Chris's kitchen and talk about the information that Tom brought back from his trip to Kansas State University where he met with a group of sensory analysis professionals. Please excuse the slurping/spitting noises that all coffee cuppers make.. The kids playing in the next room got a little loud at times too.


16 May 2014

Rank #1

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Hot Air Popcorn Popper Roasting

On New Year's Day 2014, Tom was out of roasted coffee and decided to solve the problem with his hot air popcorn popper.


4 Mar 2014

Rank #2

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A conversation with John Karuru - Kenyan Agronomist

John Karuru is a Kenyan agronomist who works in Rwanda, and a person of wide-ranging knowledge. If you want to know how to escape a charging hippo, John's your man. In fact our conversation veers away from coffee quickly, but John's stories about growing up in East Africa are so entertaining. Where do they smoke coffee leaves? John knows. Hope you enjoy this one ... -Thompson


8 Jul 2016

Rank #3

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Kenya Coffee PART 1: Growing, Trading and Marketing

Part 1 of 2 A while back we had Mary Maina Manyeki visit us in Oakland, and had a great conversation about her experiences as a Kenya coffee farmer. This transitioned into a more general conversation with Wycliffe, a trader and agronomist from Kenyacof, and Kat, a trader from Sucafina USA, about the coffee market in Kenya. I split that generally into Part 1 and Part 2 as the conversation was quite long! This is (again) just a lo-fi recording of a conversation about coffee, but there are many good details in here about how coffee is grown, traded and marketed from the tree to the retailer overseas. Please give it a listen, despite the lack of great production! -Tom


3 Apr 2018

Rank #4

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Coffee Cultivation in Colombia PART 2

PART 2. This isn't really a podcast. It's a recorded Skype conversation. The quality is pretty low. But if you are dying to know details of the issues facing coffee farmers in Colombia, there's some nuggets of wisdom in here (if you can hear them over the car alarm in the background, ha ha). Leonardo Henao occupies a unique position to discuss Colombian coffee. He has training in agronomy and business, works with many small farmers around the country to source and export their coffee, is a confident cupper and roaster, and now is planting a farm in the Urrao area of Antioquia with unique (and technically forbidden) varieties of coffee like Moka, old Caturra, Gesha and Bourbon. The first part deals with cultivation temperatures for arabica in a warming climate, while the second part is a discussion of coffee varieties like Caturra and Castillo. For most, this is dull stuff. Not for me, and maybe not for you.


12 Nov 2015

Rank #5

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Local Coffee Price and Competition

For some this podcast may seem esoteric, but I wanted to take on ideas about sourcing coffee and the rather simplistic ideas, overt and implied, in the way "direct trade" coffee is marketed by coffee roasters. There isn't one approach to working with farmers and buying quality coffee, even within one country, let alone in systems as varied as Ethiopia and Guatemala. I don't pretend to have all the answers, to understand the global financial commodities market, or the intricacies of the local market, but you can see that there is much more to a successful relationship than tossing money at coffee farmers. The more I am "active" in coffee buying, the more complicated things can be. Maybe the chickens that disrupt the podcast know more than me ... Thompson


14 Mar 2014

Rank #6

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The Burundi Coffee System

Tom describes the subjects of this podcast as "obscure details" but it's actually pretty interesting. We hope you enjoy his reflections on Burundi's coffee industry, production systems, colonial history, co-ops and other organizations.


16 Jul 2014

Rank #7

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Ferment in Colombia with Leo

Thompson talks with Leonardo Henao about breaking the rules on coffee fermentation, and how a focus on microorganisms might alter the conceptual framework of what processing and fermentation are to coffee flavors.


4 Nov 2014

Rank #8

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Pity Needs a new Pair of Shoes

When in Kenya, and while getting used to the idea of podcasting, Tom recorded some fun conversations.


22 Feb 2014

Rank #9

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Talking With Jonas About Aillio and The Bullet R1 Roaster

The inventor or the Bullet R1 coffee roaster, Jonas Lillie visited Sweet Maria's for our Bullet meet up event. He was also in town to show Tom and Julio some details about the internals of these awesome machines. One day, we hit the record button during a conversation/repair session in hopes of it turning into an informative podcast episode and Youtube video.

1hr 31mins

10 Sep 2018

Rank #10