But really, why $10 Coffee?
It started one fine day at the grocery store. I don’t grocery shop very often and our coffee is not sold in grocery stores (most of what we roast goes to restaurants and office coffee services)
Anyway, I stopped to check out the coffee aisle. I was shocked how expensive the coffee was – and I’m in the coffee business!
So, I decided to offer our great coffees to the world, one pound at a time, at a great price. My little part to help make the world a better place.
How did you get started as a roaster?
A chance encounter. And love.
In the early 90’s I worked at a trade show in Chicago as a contractor for Apple computer. There was a gentleman at the convention center operating an espresso cart – and he asked me if I could fix his Macintosh. I did freelance work, so a few days later I was in his office, his computer was fixed and I asked “So, what do you do?”
He told me he roasted coffee and fixed espresso machines. Now, I should say – I grew up in Kansas. I had never met an Italian, never had an espresso and had never considered where coffee came from. He poured us each an espresso and gave me a tour of his roastery. It was love at first sight. When I sat down in my car I told myself “I could do that. That would be great”.
About 10 years later, when he was ready to retire, Vito called me. I walked away from consulting, bought his roastery, and learned to roast coffee. The rest is history.
Do you like being a roaster?
I love being a roaster. Coffee is a fantastic thing and I love making something that people enjoy. When someone tells me “I love your coffee” – it makes my day.
Until 2001 I was a consultant, advising Fortune 500 companies like Abbot Labs, AT&T and Motorola on technology integration strategies. I traveled all the time and when I tried to tell people what I did they would smile and nod and look for someone else to talk to.
Now I roast coffee. It’s great. Everyone knows something about coffee, everyone loves coffee. When I tell people what I do, they tell me how much they love coffee and ask me a million questions. It’s great.
It’s funny – when I was in fifth or sixth grade we took a career placement test in school – lots of questions and fill-in-the-circle answers. The results, which came back months later, no doubt after careful tabulation, had two career suggestions for me: Professional Chef and Fire Watcher.
At the time, I thought is was silly. Now, looking back, I’m impressed with their accuracy.
What is something you love about roasting coffee?
The feeling of anticipation that comes when I drop a load of green coffee into the roaster – it’s exciting every time. I’m a link in amazing chain and it’s a great feeling to think about where the coffee came from and where it’s going.
Roasting is a time-consuming process and it’s given me many hours to consider the incredible chain of events leading up to the coffee I’m roasting. I ponder the miracles of mountains and nature, and consider the wondrous biodiversity of the Amazon. I think about the crazy story of the coffee trees, transplanted from the Middle East to Africa, Central and South America and beyond and I imagine the lives of the people who farm, harvest and process the coffee that shows up at my dock in big brown sacks.
Each load of coffee is full of promise and hope, loaded with happy smiles and warm feelings. Knowing I’m a part of thousands of people’s’ good day – it’s a great feeling.