Editors' pick

Mayorga Coffee Roasters

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Editorial Review

In the industrial pocket of Rockville best known for its scrap metal yards, a young guy named Martin Mayorga sells fine, specialty-grade coffee beans right from the roaster.

"It's a little secret place where people who know good coffee can come to buy it," says Mayorga, 29, who opened the 6,000-square-foot Mayorga Coffee Roasters facility in March.

A full 99 percent of the coffee beans that he imports from small, family-owned coffee estates in Africa and Central and South America are roasted and then sold to Dean & DeLuca, Marvelous Market and Costco Wholesale stores. But on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from noon to 5 p.m., he opens his warehouse to the public. Those same, aromatic, freshly roasted beans that sell for $10 to $16 per pound in stores go for $7 per pound at the roasting house.

Against the back wall of the warehouse, 150-pound burlap sacks, filled with raw, green beans from coffee-producing countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia and Kenya are stacked, one atop another. Some sacks are open. Visitors are free to run a hand through the green beans and observe differences in bean shape, size and color.

"That's the most fun of it for adults," says Mayorga who grew up in Nicaragua and learned the coffee business from his uncle--a third-generation coffee farmer. "Every variety of coffee has a different appearance."

Mayorga says that visitors to his facility gather around the traditional roasting machine and watch the fully cooked beans revolve in the "cooling bin." At the touch of a button, the finished beans are vacuumed, overhead, through a clear tube intot he packaging system. Says Mayorga: "That's the part the kids love best."