Roast magazine is thrilled to announce the six finalists for the 20th Annual Roaster of the Year awards! Roast recognizes winners from two categories: Micro Roaster (companies roasting less than 100,000 pounds of coffee each year) and Macro Roaster (companies roasting more than 100,000 pounds annually). The winner in each category will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The Roaster of the Year awards recognize companies that roast coffees of excellent quality, exemplify a dedication to sustainability, promote employee and community education, demonstrate strong involvement in the coffee industry, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity, among other criteria. To view the award criteria and application for the 2025 Roaster of the Year competition, click here.
Micro Roaster of the Year Finalists
The three finalists in the Micro Roaster category are listed below in no particular order, with information obtained from the company’s award application.
Three Keys Coffee
Founded in 2019 by co-owners Kenzel Fallen and Tio Fallen, Houston-based Three Keys Coffee has been working to provide high-quality yet accessible and inclusive specialty coffee experience through the arts and sounds of jazz music. With a total of nine employees, the company has roasted over 20,000 pounds in the past year and has one retail location in addition to its roasting facility.
The company, according to its Roaster of the Year application, is a “100% Black-Owned and 51% Woman-Owned roastery. Additionally, 78% of our team belongs to one or more minority groups.” Tio Fallen, Three Keys’ executive director of coffee—previously a mechanical engineer—and Kenzel Fallen, the company’s CEO—previously a corporate risk manager—have carried over some of the “positive aspects of corporate culture, while leaving behind the many toxic attributes.” They believe this has influenced the fast and wide growth story of their business, and hope to foster a work culture “built on trust and autonomy, instilling an open and non-hierarchical environment where employees are empowered and encouraged to express ideas and lead projects that shape our company’s strategic growth.”
Bridge City Coffee
Bridge City Coffee was founded in 2017 by owner Gregory Ward. With 42 full-time and part-time employees, the company has a roasting facility and three retail cafes in the Greenville, South Carolina, area, as well as roasting operations in Waco, Texas. Between the two locations, Bridge City roasted over 32,000 pounds of coffee in the past year.
Providing on-the-job training to give its team the necessary coffee knowledge and barista skills that will make them successful, Bridge City also cultivates a healthy workplace by instilling a sense of ownership in the coffee craft. According to its Roaster of the Year application, Bridge City has a vision to “enrich our communities by helping people discover the best of who they are and what they can become through a deeper understanding of their innate worth.” The company partners with local nonprofit mentorship programs in the cities they operate in, and also hires applicants who are not connected to a partner nonprofit but lack work experience or come from difficult circumstances, and intentionally mentors those employees.
Dear Green Coffee Roasters
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Dear Green Coffee Roasters was founded in 2011 by owner and founder Lisa Lawson. The roaster-wholesaler and online retailer has a roasting output of around 100,000 pounds of coffee over the past year, and nine employees on staff, which it supports through ensuring a Real Living Wage—providing security for full-time, part-time, and freelance staff.
The company has been active in the global roasting community in order to constantly learn and advance, striving “to be the best we can possibly be at roasting coffee and to constantly learn from new science, tech and from the knowledge of others in our network,” according to its Roaster of the Year application. As a B-Corp, Dear Green has committed to net zero by 2030, with a current target of 80% recycling waste to 20% general waste to reach by next year. The business has established an environmental policy for commuting to the office or for deliveries, and travel policy for origin trips visiting coffee producers.
Macro Roaster of the Year Finalists
The three finalists in the Macro Roaster category are listed below in no particular order, with information obtained from the company’s award application.
Nossa Familia Coffee
Founded in 2004 by Augusto Carneiro, founder and chief friendship officer, Portland, Oregon-based Nossa Familia Coffee aims to deliver exceptional farm-direct coffee and create positive relationships locally and globally. With a total of 41 employees, the company has roasted over 360,000 pounds of coffee in the past year.
The company started with a truly ‘family-direct’ model with Nossa Familia’s founder importing beans from his family’s farms in Brazil (where they have been growing coffee for over 100 years), and has evolved to include long-term relationships with farmers in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and Ethiopia. According to its Roaster of the Year application, Nossa Familia also began taking customers and staff on trips to coffee-producing countries with a goal to “foster camaraderie, transparency and understanding among all of us in the supply chain. This bringing of people together showcases the beautiful and hard work that farmers do to bring us amazing coffees, and has become one of the many ways we nurture positive relationships locally and globally.”
Verve Coffee Roasters was founded in 2007 by Colby Barr and Ryan O’Donovan in Santa Cruz, California. With over 260 full-time and part-time employees, the company operates roasting facilities and 19 retail locations, across Northern California, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, Japan. Verve has roasted 1.5 million pounds of coffee in the past year.
The company, according to its Roaster of the Year application, “actively participates in the entire supply chain to ensure the highest standards of ethics and excellence.” Committed to innovation and pushing the boundaries of convention, Verve invests in individual producers across the globe—paying a premium that supports a thriving partnership, and seeking out community-centric cooperatives and women-owned farms whenever possible. Across the coffee value stream, Verve is “always looking for ways to uplight our producers, customers, and employees.” Additionally, Verve is determined to minimize its ecological footprint through responsible practices like waste reduction, solar powered roasting, and regenerative agriculture.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Groundwork Coffee was founded in 1990 by Eddy Cola, CEO, and Jeff Chean, chief coffee guy. The company has roasted 1.2 million pounds of coffee in the past year, with 250 employees operating across 10 retail locations and a roastery in the Los Angeles area, as well as a roasting facility in Portland, Oregon.
The company’s mission is “to source and share exceptional, organic coffee that inspires people to work hard, dream big, and impact the world,” according to its Roaster of the Year application. It aims to be a disruptive force that effects change in the communities, both locally and at origin, and reject the status quo, particularly as it relates to the term “sustainability.” Groundwork believes that sustainability must include the company’s relationship with employees at all levels, with customers in the areas where its retail and/or wholesale facilities are located, with vendors, as well as with the farms, cooperatives, and communities where its green coffee is sourced.