Hill Country Cup: Michelle Bussemey and Tosca Cesaretti and Springtown Roasters
Partners Michelle “Misha” Bussemey and Tosca Cesaretti co-own Springtown Roasters, a company based in San Marcos, Texas. They roast out of a small private building on their property built expressly for the roasting operation, where Tosca, head roaster, spends four to five days a week in the space to meet demands.
Setting the Scene
In 2016, Tosca Cesaretti had the opportunity to work for a local San Marcos roaster. With no prior experience and no intention to join the industry, she spent the first few weeks just helping the roaster take apart, clean, and repair the roasting machine.
For the next eight months, she helped the new company grow. When the offer came up for her to purchase the business, she realized she wouldn’t mind owning a roastery–”but not this one,” she says. She saw the expansive potential in specialty coffee, and didn’t want to lock herself into a roastery that had a menu of five core coffees and no solid plans to experiment further.
She took the idea home to Misha, who was ten years into a corporate career in wind power mapping and desperately looking for a change. They took some time to crunch the numbers and consider everything Tosca had learned in her first months as a roaster.
Their market research took them to a handful of different roaster manufacturers, most of which tried to sell them on their biggest workhorses. When they called Mill City Roasters, the answer they got was different. Steve Green suggested they start on something smaller.
“I talked to [him] for like an hour one day on my lunch break,” Misha says. “And I called Tosca right after, to say I’ve secured our roaster!”
They invested in a 2 kilogram roaster in July of 2017, and Misha quit her corporate job the following month. Springtown Roasters became a full-time operation.
The Way Up
The first Springtown Roasters coffee sale happened on the Winter Solstice of 2017.
Initially, Tosca had a goal of roasting 200 lbs a week by year three. While they did hit that number once in year two, reaching it consistently proved itself a more formidable challenge. Since then, “we’ve been very realistic about the pace of growth,” Misha says.
The team found that farmers markets were the best way to get their coffee to their customers, as well as establish brand credibility.
It took three years for Misha and Tosca to turn a profit. Before that, they returned every dollar to the company and took none for themselves, living instead off of savings.
In the early days of the company, the pair made a connection with Greater Goods Coffee Co in Austin. The roastery helped them get their feet underneath them, even loaning them a motor for nearly a year. They also credit Nick Green with Mill City Roasters for endless support and troubleshooting as well as Joe Marrocco of FairWave Coffee Collective for being a reliable helpline.
In year four, Springtown Roasters partnered with their first local account, San Marcus shop The Coffee Bar. Following the success of the trial, the cafe took them on exclusively, and Tosca created them a one-of-a-kind blend.
Now the operation has grown to include multiple wholesale accounts, which is the direction both Misha and Tosca anticipate Springtown Roasters to grow most in. The company has six wholesale partners between four different towns. During the busy season, they hire a temp to come in and assist with the roast.
“The busier we get, the more efficient we get,” Tosca says. With increasing sales, her new goal is to limit the amount of days she spends roasting, to ensure she has time for everything else.
As-is, she spends at least four days a week with the 2 kilogram roaster, while Misha focuses on buying, marketing, maintaining the website, and keeping a handwritten roast log to supplement the software they use.
The company’s steady increase in sales has led them to the point of outgrowing their space. Their roastery is set up with a loading dock at one end and the roaster at the other, which leaves limited space in the middle for storing a growing amount of greens.
The logistics of shipping have also proved challenging as well. Since their roasting space isn’t zoned commercially, Misha has to drive all the way to San Antonio to pick up their orders. To make this process a little easier, the team invested in a company van last December. The van has also proved a worthwhile investment for deliveries and popup events.
The Springtown Roasters Menu
Springtown Roasters roasts coffees from sixteen different countries. Seven of them come from women producers: it has always been a goal of the brand to support women coffee producers and farmers. A portion of proceeds from those coffees is donated to the Greater San Marcos Youth Council, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk families in Hays County, Texas.
They offer fourteen different medium roasts, eight of which are also offered as dark roasts depending on the customer’s choice in a drop-down menu in the online shop.
The lineup started as solely medium roasts, because that’s the roast the team loved best. “But really, it’s about [the customer],” Tosca says. So as the company has grown, the list of roasts has expanded to suit the San Marcos palette. Because neither Misha nor Tosca love dark roasts, they employed a dark roast taster to help them nail down their dark roast profiles.
Springtown Roasters also sells a variety of novelty items like a coffee spice rub and exfoliating soaps made with leftover grounds. These products are a way for Springtown Roasters to both cut down on waste as well as upcycle some of their byproducts into more revenue.
This year, they’re looking forward to expanding their market and reaching into communities outside of San Marcos. Their first stop, the Austin Coffee Festival in October, will give them a platform to introduce themselves– as ”the new girls in town,” Misha says.
To solve the problem of space constraints, Misha and Tosca have floated the idea of adding a shipping container to their property as a place dedicated solely to greens storage.
Along with the reformatting of their space, Springtown Roasters will also be looking into upgrading the capacity of their roaster, whether renting time on a bigger machine in Austin or moving up to a larger MCR.
Tosca has also floated the idea of offering a gold cup buyers club, where customers can pick their own greens to be roasted by Springtown Roasters. This type of subscription would appeal to customers looking to spend considerably more than a traditional coffee subscriber, but Tosca would love the opportunity to roast otherwise out-of-reach coffees for a select and unique audience.
Bring Springtown Roasters Home
You can find Springtown Roasters coffee at the Buda Farmers Market on Sundays in Buda, Texas. You can also find drip coffee, bagged coffee, and even cold brew snow cones in shops in San Marcos (The Cornucopia or The Coffee Bar), Buda (A Snowball’s Chance), Houston (Blanca’s Cafe), or San Antonio (Krista’s Culinary Creations).
Stop by the Austin Coffee Festival to catch Tosca and Misha in their element, buy a bag of any of their sixteen roasts on their website, or follow them on Instagram or Facebook to keep updated with the latest.