Red Whale Coffee

Marin Magazine, Red Whale Coffee

THIS WHALE BEGAN its migration back in 2003 on Canada’s east coast in New Brunswick, where California native Sean Boyd was working as a chef. Intent on leaving a positive lasting impression on customers and knowing he couldn’t do that with the coffee his restaurant served, Boyd began “cooking” his own. His determination to deliver coffee that complemented his menu paid off: Red Whale Coffee became an underground favorite in Canada and the side project soon became a full-time operation. In 2012, homesick for California and his family, Boyd moved back to the Golden State and settled in Marin to focus on sourcing, roasting and selling the highest-quality and best-roasted coffee beans he could.


Master roaster Boyd creates a unique roasting flavor profile for each coffee bean lot, much like a chef creating a recipe would, but Red Whale Coffee’s mission extends beyond beans. “While our objectives are to roast specialty coffee that tastes great, our greater vision is to use coffee to improve our community through education and business practices, based on ethics, respect and transparency,” says Boyd.


The Red Whale Coffee to the Rescue program brings coffee to emergency workers, ensuing responders are alert and operating at their best during disasters. In non-emergency situations, you can stop by the San Rafael tasting room to check out the custom equipment in action and get a look at how the science, art, food and community of coffee production come together.


Boyd was invited to be a judge at the Best of Panama coffee tasting last year. Along with other select judges, he cupped, tasted and ranked the most flavorful coffee Panama had to offer.


Most coffee roasters talk about roasting beans, but Boyd treats coffee like food and prefers the term “cooking.” He says, “Cooking coffee is like caramelizing crème brûlée. If you over-caramelize the crème brûlée becomes burnt, bitter and acrid. It’s the same for roasting coffee.”

Marin Magazine, Red Whale Coffee

Marin Magazine, Red Whale Coffee

Kasia Pawlowska

Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is never-ending.