Roast! West Coast
R!WC Archive
Coffee People: Bill Kennedy, San Franciscan Roaster Co.

Coffee People: Bill Kennedy, San Franciscan Roaster Co.

You either get it done, or you get it done.


Guest: Bill Kennedy, San Franciscan Roaster Company
From: Carson City, NV
Instagram: @sanfranroasters
What they drink: “I order what everybody else orders….just a straight cup of coffee.”

Buying SFR Co. was an All or Nothing proposition for the Kennedy family. That’s a risk often associated with entrepreneurial pursuits. Still, when I asked if he had moments where he questioned the decision, he reiterated the need for grit and perseverance. He also said that you need to believe in what you’re doing, and he did.

What he and San Franciscan team were doing, are doing, was working to create roasters that are excellent at roasting coffee, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. They want to build roasters they’d want to use and continue innovating improvements along the way. It sounds simple, but it was refreshing to hear conveyed so plainly in today’s corporate culture of planned obsolescencenly.

Bill clearly loves coffee. He expressed a theory that joy in your work leads to a higher quality of craftsmanship. You can see the durability of the machines, and you’ll hear about it when you talk to roasters using the machines.

A close up of the gold plaque found on San Franciscan Coffee Roasters that says the name and motto, "Art in ingenuity."
Photo via @sanfranroaster on Instagram and credited to ©@hayacoffee.

The roasters don’t lack for design aesthetics either. Every roaster has a plaque—often in their iconic gold color—emblazoned with the phrase, “Art & Ingenuity.” It’s a reference to the San Franciscan approach to building machines and to the art of roasting coffee. Their machines are built with the idea that the relationship between the roaster and the machine is part of what creates great coffee. That symbiosis leads to a machine imbued with soul that is then imparted into the coffee, dropping down into the cooling tray.

That means their roasters aren’t for everyone. Their client niche is people who are passionate about coffee, passionate about the craft and have a commitment to the process. Romantically, that sounds like every coffee roaster I know. Still, there is also room in the industry for more automated processes, more streamlined designs, and more tech-heavy bells and whistles.

As Bill analogized, there can be multiple approaches to art that is successful. In the same way, there can be multiple approaches to roasting coffee that is successful. Whoever is roasting in their own unique yet excellent way, SFR Co. strives to be the tool that gets them there.

Over here, on the consumer side of things, we’re a part of the experience, hopefully feeling the connection between the coffee bean, coffee roaster, and the coffee roasting machine.


three side by side images of San Franciscan coffee roasting machines.
Images via @sanfranroaster on Instagram, ft. @oakhillfarmcoffeeroasters, @drinkcoffee_dostuff, and @banyan_coffee_co


  • San Franciscan will be at the Specialty Coffee Association Expo in Portland, April 20-23, 2023. If you’re there, you can find them at Booth 253.

  • Bill got his coffee drinking start by adding cream and sugar—ALWAYS cream and sugar, but after his brother got involved in the coffee industry he took a two week cold turkey detox off the coffee additives. Since then, he’s been a black coffee drinker.

  • Tasting coffees and breaking down their flavor profiles has become a compulsion of sorts. Bill is a Q-Grader, and breaking down a cup of coffee is a sort of happy place.

  • Once, early on in the episode, I said the San Francisco Roaster Company, but it is San Franciscan Roaster Company. I don’t know why I said San Francisco, and I apologize. It was a slip of the tongue. Speaking of…

  • I talked a lot during this episode. I try not to do that, but Bill is the kind of guy who tells stories, and makes you want to share yours.

  • You either get it done, or you get it done.  Wilford Brimley in Seinfeld.

  • Their client niche are people who are passionate about the coffee, passionate about the craft, and have a commitment to the process. It is Bill’s job to communicate the value of the roasters his company is building. He believes customers will part with their money if they can see the value.

A 3-photo collage of commercial coffee roasters in bright colors, from left green, pink, and blue.
They don’t shy away color. Customized SFR machines via @sanfranroaster, ft. a display @sanfranroaster, @timeandtidecoffee and @retrograderoasters


Drink their coffees and whiskeys. Visit their cafes. Support local coffee shops. You won’t be disappointed.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea • First Light Coffee Whiskey • Steady State Roasting • CAFÉ LaTERRE • Mostra Coffee • Coffee Cycle •  Camp Coffee CompanyIgnite Coffee Company • Ascend Coffee Roasters • Marea Coffee • Cape Horn Coffee Roasters

Thank you for reading. R!WC is a listener & reader-supported publication. Help us grow by subscribing to this newsletter!


Share Roast! West Coast

Roast! West Coast
R!WC Archive
The Original Show! The Roast! West Coast podcast introduces you to the premier coffee roasters, coffee experts and coffee innovators on the West Coast. Author, entrepreneur, and host Ryan Woldt interviews guests to bring you their origin stories, thoughts on the community of coffee, and coffee education.