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There are about 70 roasters from San Jose to Fort Bragg, from small ones that roast 50 pounds a month to ones that roast 100 times that, said Rob Daly, president of Taylor Maid Farms in Sebastopol. The company, which specializes in organic and sustainable growing practices, just celebrated 20 years in the business.

"There's a recent boom of roasters in the Bay Area," Daly said. "The roasting business has become as common today as all the coffee carts that popped up in the 1990s."

He said "there is huge value" in being able to pick up the phone and talk to a coffee colleague about milling techniques or industry logistics.

Joan Katzeff, who co-founded Thanksgiving Coffee Company in Fort Bragg in 1972 with her husband, Paul, said the popularity of specialty coffees has increased awareness of the "miserable conditions" of coffee farmers in poor countries often decimated by environmental degradation.

"We are becoming aware of the fact that there's more to coffee than just a good cup," she said. "With the specialty coffee industry gaining in popularity, I think there's a much greater awareness to that in general now."

Another company, like Eco-Delight, that prioritizes workers' lives is important, she said.

When Petaluma Coffee & Tea Company opened in 1989, there was one other roaster in town, which sold only wholesale, said founder Sheila Bride.

"When I think back 25 years ago, we ... were probably the first artisan-type business in town," she said. "It's an interesting trend to watch. The more kinds of businesses we have, the better for the economy and the more people who come to see Petaluma."