Globally Sourced.
Roasted in San Diego.
From farm to roast.

We are a San Diego Specialty Coffee roasting company that believes in single origin coffees from all over the world. We work with farms and farmers, importers, and Co-ops to find the most amazing coffees available. Founded by John Vallas in 2011. Swell was born from his passion to live life to it’s fullest, friends, family, surf, good health, and great coffee. Swell is passionate about roasting coffee to be experienced at it’s most flavorful potential. We stand to always explore the globe to discover new flavors and keep our feet in the sand in sunny San Diego, California.

small batch
Take a peek into our process.
Let us explain how we do.

Coffee starts to turn into it’s magically delicious flavor at first crack. So what the hell is first crack? It is the first stage of coffee roasting and it is quite similar to popping pop corn. This is the point when caramelization and sugar do there dance to merge into freshly roasted super stars.

The People
We are constantly sampling coffee from just about everywhere it is grown. Harvest seasons vary around the globe, and sometimes outside forces like climate or politics or the market effect which coffee we buy as well as that seasonality. We like to develop “direct trade” relationships one-on-one with farmers if it can be mutually beneficial, but nowadays brokers have realized the value to quality and sustainability and sometimes they can treat a producer the best. Each cup of coffee is delivered with thought to quality at all levels, not just in the sips you take.
The Green
Origin has a lot to do with how the coffee ends up delighting your palate, but how we get what we call the “bean” out of the coffea arabica cherries plays a huge role also. We like to give you the chance to try washed and natural processed coffees and everything in-between, from honey processed to the craziest new experimental things we can get our hands on. We factor this in along with things like genetics and terroir when picking out which coffees fit the bill.
The Roast
We roast small batches to precisely capture the true flavor of each origin, resulting in “medium-light-medium” roasts to really get at that peak taste. The essence of each coffee varies, so our Roast Master crafts a profile precise to what we think is best brought out of each bean. Some will be more wild, some will be more mellow, but all will be clean and sweet and balanced. And hey, so maybe you like dark roast - well we ain’t mad at ya, and we aren’t going to dictate that you have to go elsewhere so we will do that for you, too.
Meet the Team
Good coffee happens every day.
Exceptional coffee happens at Swell.

John Herrmann hails from the midwest and has been in coffee for over 16 years. John, or “Papa Herrmann” as we call him, has done everything coffee all over the continental US. From cafe manager to region trips, roasting to training, Papa Herrmann has done it all. Now he finds refuge in San Diego, California, where he lives a life of vintage bicycles, classic rock’n’roll, surfing, craft beers and of course…specialty coffee!


Mondo has been a coffee enthusiast for countless years. As a Certified Structural Welder most of his adult life, working exceedingly long days welding all over the world, coffee was his best friend. After years of welding and traveling, Mondo found an opportunity to work for the very coffee shop he would visit with his wife upon his return from traveling – Swell Coffee! Taking a job in the Roasting Facility in its very early days, Mondo has watched the small local coffee shop, turned roaster, turn into the Specialty Coffee Nerdom it is today.


Nick has had a love affair with coffee since first working in a candy-bar-coffeeshop out of high school. After a foray into the culinary world for a few years, the emergent “third wave” pulled him back into coffee’s sweet embrace. Since then, Nick has run the gamut from customer service to training baristas as well as lot selection, consulting, and roasting on multiple types of roasters. Most days you will catch him with spoon in hand looking for a cupping, but occasionally you will see him at the beach watching his 14 year old dog run around like an idiot. Also, Wu-Tang.

Located in San Diego, CA
Get your fix in person at either of our two cafe locations.

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