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.
WHAT THEY SAY
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.”