When it comes to roasting coffee, there’s fresh and then there’s f-r-e-s-h. Mark Shervey is banking on the latter.
The owner of MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters knows what fresh-roasted coffee is supposed to taste like, so he decided last year to share his life-changing discovery with the world.
“Since I got hooked on coffee that is 100 percent fresh, I haven’t been able to go back to the old way,” said Shervey, who started roasting beans commercially last year in a small retail space on West Nob Hill Boulevard. “If you are buying your coffee at the grocery store, you are missing out.”
A few years ago, one of Shervey’s friends introduced him to freshly roasted, single-origin coffee beans. It wasn’t long before that’s all he would drink.
Now, he’s roasting five evenings a week — he works full time for Costco — and selling a half-dozen varieties of his coffee at the Downtown Yakima Farmers’ Market every Sunday with the help of his wife, Teresa.
The couple have established a loyal online clientele from around the Northwest, and are now sending their coffee to customers as far away as Florida, New Jersey and Texas.
“It’s a great feeling when you have repeat customers who tell you how much they love what you’re selling,” Shervey said. “The way I see it, that’s the most serious form of flattery.”
Now that he owns a commercial roasting machine, he can roast up to 200 pounds of coffee per day, completing three 10-pound batches per hour.
“The goal is to get to that point someday,” he said.
Shervey also would like to start selling his beans to local coffee shops that are looking to embrace the genuine freshness that sets his products apart.
As a way of helping other small businesses stand out, MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters creates custom roasts that individual stands can call their own. They even offer free delivery within 10 miles of Yakima.
“It’s getting pretty big here,” Shervey said. “By selling custom blends to individual businesses, we feel like we can fill a niche and give their customers something that other stands can’t offer.”
Shervey views his role as a wholesale provider, as well as a complement to other small businesses.
This summer, he has been focusing on the farmers market and his online business. He may also look to partner with some local stores later this year.
“It’s becoming a culture, kind of like beer and wine,” said Shervey, 52, a native of Wisconsin. “People everywhere are starting to take notice that there really is a better way of doing things. They are looking for specific characteristics in their coffee and offering descriptions, just like they do with wine.”
Shervey uses words like “floral,” “fruity” and “full-bodied” to describe his coffee beans, which he orders wholesale from a farmer collective system.
The beans come from local community lots, or “micro-lots” in Central America, South America, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Africa. The system not only ensures fair trade and prices for green coffee beans, but it also provides farmers with year-round technical and sustainability support.
Shervey says that by supporting his business here in Yakima, his customers are supporting the coffee farmers and their families.
“They produce much smaller quantities,” he said, “but they use sustainable practices and offer fair wages. We could find cheaper beans, but we want to support these farmers.”
The effort to support smaller operations has become very popular in recent years, and Shervey sees a lot of growth potential in the Portland and Seattle markets.
“People are looking for more organic options and they want to work with artisan roasters like me,” he said, adding that Yakima residents are also beginning to catch on. “This is one of the big waves in the coffee industry over the past 20 years, and it’s a phenomenon that people have really embraced.”
Shervey is eager to continue spreading the word about single-origin coffee beans — not just where they come from but how good they taste.
Customers can expect to see more of MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters around the Valley in the months to come.
As for the company name?
“MAK represents the initials of my daughters — Megan, Alyssa and Kayla — “and I’m Daddy,” Shervey said. “It just stuck.”
Learn more about the business at makdaddycoffeeroasters.com.