Like many other startups, HelioRoast began in a private home. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science and a letter in rowing, Kern Trembath had a very pleasant career as a schoolteacher and administrator. He then decided to switch gears and roast coffee instead. He began with a web search, a hot-air popcorn popper, some excellent green beans from Sweet Marias in Oakland, and lots of optimism. He soon discovered what first and second cracks meant, and sugar extrusion on the bean surface, and how to leverage them to produce coffees that he enjoyed drinking. Family, friends, and customers soon followed, as did lots more learning.
Kern's house has solar cells and so he named the company HelioRoast. This aligned with his intention to maintain a high green profile in his personal and professional life. (For the same reason, HelioRoast uses the USPS to ship its products.) This also dictated the kind and size of roaster he eventually purchased: electric! At this point in history, electric roasters were small, although there are lots of indications that they will continue to grow larger. More web searches led to the world's best (we're not biased....) manufacturer of electric roasters -- Coffee-tech -- which manufactures and ships its machines from just south of Tel Aviv, Israel. HelioRoast's FZ-94 maxes at 2.4 KG, which is both artisan-level and orders of magnitude smaller than most 60+ KG commercial roasters. He fully expects this love affair to continue regardless of how the business scales in the future.
In 2017 HelioRoast expanded its sales to include coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. The following year its operations moved to Treasure Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Its energy is now supplied by CleanPower SF, whose sources are 53% solar and 47% wind. There are many days when Kern looks east out of his office to see UC Berkeley, his alma mater, or west to see San Francisco, his home, and wonders why he waited so long to produce coffees in one of the world's most beautiful locations.
By 2022 HelioRoast all-but-completed its transition to a fully-sustainable company with its switch to compostable coffee bags and labels. Shorter-distance shipping utilizes USPS cardboard boxes and compostable sealing tape. Longer-distance shipping still uses plastic envelopes, and we are awaiting USPS progress to making them sustainable as well.
HelioRoast's artisan commitment means that we only roast on demand. Freshness is the single most important characteristic of excellent coffee, and our bags will always include the roasted-on date -- which is also the shipped-on date. You can get excellent coffees from many roasters, but none will be fresher than HelioRoast.