Coffee has been described as “the cup that cheers but does not inebriate.”
Steven Rojas laughed heartily when he heard this. “I like it,” he said.
Indeed, coffee cheers Rojas, the founder and owner of Weekend Coffee Roasters, 1137 11th Ave. SW in Albany. “I’ve been drinking coffee for a long time,” said the native of Delano, California. “Growing up in a Puerto Rican family, they love that strong coffee.”
He recalled a family visit to his grandmother’s aunt when he was 7 or 8. “The only way to calm us kids down was to give us Café Bustelo,” he said, referencing a Cuban-style brand of coffee available in grocery stores. “She would serve us a big, hot cup of coffee with tons of whole milk and sugar. It was thick and creamy. It was just a beautiful thing. It was my first taste of coffee and it was a pleasant feeling.”
The family also enjoyed quantities of coffee with a big breakfast after church on Sundays. They would sit down and linger over coffee, discussing the previous week.
“That was the one day of the week we looked forward to and counted on,” Rojas said.
And so coffee became associated with family warmth, relaxation and good feelings for him.
To share this good feeling with Albany, Rojas and his daughter, Avery Rojas, started Weekend Coffee Roasters on Sept. 15, 2020.
“We love coffee so much we went into business,” Steven Rojas said. “Everyone in the family has some kind of involvement in the company.”
Rojas describes himself as a retail man and distributor of coffees, while Avery Rojas works behind the scenes. The family converted its home garage into a roastery, and received a permit to go into the business of roasting and selling coffee beans.
“We have been certified and allowed to do what we love so passionately," Steven Rojas said. "It’s not a storefront; we bypassed that cost."
Rojas sources his coffee beans from 30 countries, mostly in Latin America and Africa. He seeks out organically and sustainably farmed beans that he roasts to light, medium, medium-dark and dark levels, and offers in various styles, including single-brew pods and single pour-over packets. Customers can order the roasted beans and other merchandise at weekend-roasters.com.
Soon the website will also offer a way for customers to order coffee beverages to pick up at the roastery, or to be delivered “from our home to your home,” Rojas said. “From their farm to our roast to your cup.”
He said he can roast the coffee for a drink order “and have it ready to go in nine to 12 minutes, 15 minutes at the most.” He plans to offer free delivery within a 30-mile radius of his business, needing only about a half-hour’s notice. Customers can also call the roastery to order.
Drinks can be delivered in double-insulated thermal cups to keep them cold or hot. The company’s cups for cold brews are made of biodegradable plastic. Another offering is a 96-ounce takeout container of freshly roasted and brewed coffee, intended for offices or meetings.
Weekend Coffee Roasters offers quite a variety of beverages. Along with the typical espresso drinks and cold brews, the business has several types of creamers, including its signature horchata creamer. Rojas and the family make their own horchata — a sweetened rice milk drink popular in Mexico — using brown rice for nutritional value. The horchata then becomes the base of the creamer. Another signature offering is Timothy’s Sweet Cream, a creamer invented by Rojas’ son.
Rojas talks with enthusiasm about his business’ coffee roasts, which range from comfortably familiar to those carrying intriguing names such as Rise ‘n’ Shine, Cacao Blend and Brazil Sugarcane Decaf. He discusses how the darker roasts have a stronger flavor but actually impart less caffeine “because everything has been burnt out.” Combining a dark roast with a lighter roast marries caffeine levels and flavors, making a perfect balance.
“It’s like wine,” Rojas said. “We like to pair people with what they like.”
He also encourages people to try different roasts to discover which flavor of coffee they prefer, and “pair the creamer to the notes you’re getting out of the ground coffee,” he said. “Don’t just get into foo-foo, la-la drinks. Sip the coffee to get the aroma. Enhance it, don’t drown it out.”
Rojas said he brought his family to Albany to start a coffee business, because doing business in Oregon is cheaper than in California, largely because water is "not as hot an issue." He feels the first year of Weekend Coffee Roasters has been a real success, and plans to celebrate the anniversary at the garage.
“We’re looking to open up a storefront and seeing what the future has to offer,” he said. “We love what we do. Even if we get bigger, we don’t want to lose the essence of what we’re all about.”