Any independent merchant selling coffee has to contend with a business dominated by mega-corporations that seem to be everywhere. Hollister, for example, has three Starbucks franchises, two within a tenth of a mile of each other.
Craze Coffee Roasters is a recent David rising up against the field of Goliaths, a small Hollister company distributing its product locally through online orders, free contactless deliveries, and at Bertuccio’s Market.
“I officially started the business in July of 2020,” said owner Todd Dauzat, “but I started learning how to roast coffee in 2018. I just kinda worked into the business. I thought it was kinda fun and was enjoying better coffee than I could get at the big chain coffee shops.”
It took Dauzat a bit of work and a trip to the dictionary to settle on a name.
“I thought of ‘crave’ and when I looked it up, I came across ‘craze,’” he said. “There are several meanings to the word and one caught my attention—that networks of cracks in glass are called ‘craze.’ It was perfect because, during the roasting process, that actually happens—it makes cracks in the surface of the beans.”
Coffee goes through two distinctive cracking stages as it roasts, according to Dauzat, and they are referred to by roasters as the first and second crack.
“I thought, well, that is what the word means,” he said. “So I decided to stick with it.”
Dauzat started off roasting coffee as a hobby and as a break from his regular job as a dispatcher for San Jose Animal Control.
“I used to be one of those Starbucks fanatics,” he said. “I would be stuck behind ten people in line and then when you finally get your order it’s not the way you like it. I got tired of spending the money and the time, so I started playing around with roasting coffee. And now I roast my own coffee and drink my own coffee.”
The more he got into the process, the more interested he became in exploring it as a business.
“I am 50 now and I can retire when I am 55,” Dauzat said, “so I wanted to find something I could do now that would grow into something I could continue after I leave my full-time job.”
Dauzat air-roasts his coffee, which he says gives the beans a better flavor.
“The roaster is like a giant popcorn popper,” he said. “A traditional roaster would use a heat element or gas burners, which will carry a lot of the old oils as they permeate the drums. In air roasting, the coffee rides on a bed of hot air, so it is a lot cleaner.”
All of the coffees that Dauzat imports are ethically sourced through Direct Trade, which means the supplier has negotiated prices with the farmers that meet or exceed Fair Trade standards.
Craze currently offers five different single-origin coffees on its website:
- Bourbon coffee from the Tumba region of Rwanda
- Gayo coffee from the Bebesen, Kute Panang, and Central Aceh regions of Sumatra
- Shade-grown coffee from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala
- Organic Turquesa coffee from the Chiapas region of Mexico
- Organic decaffeinated coffee from the El Palto region of Peru.
Dauzat roasts his coffee on Mondays with local delivery, within San Benito County, on Tuesdays. Orders placed on the website can also be shipped.
“I am hoping people like the coffee enough to take a chance on some of the more unusual varieties as we are able to get them,” Dauzat said. “And I think they will appreciate a local specialty roaster in this area with fresh roasted coffee versus what they buy in the store that might have been sitting on a shelf for three or four months.”
BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market for helping to expand our Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.