I started in coffee almost 17 years ago. Crazy. My first serious coffee job was at Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca NY right after college. I needed to pay the rent and I was a sociology major with no desire to do research or go on to graduate school. There was the roastmaster John Gant working on the Sivetz Fluid Bed Air roaster and he had an intense passion for coffee and roasting and espresso. On my first day or orientation we spent a couple of hours talking about the history of coffee and to be honest I was hooked from the get go. We tried coffees and espressos and I was fired up (more like wired up) about everything coffee. I have been in coffee ever since.
We moved to the Bay Area soon after that because we were young and adventurous and I had never been west of the Mississippi and my wife had this wild dream of living in the Bay Area. I worked at Peet’s for a hot second, then another small coffee company but then I saw a new shop in San Francisco opening up using Stumptown Coffee Roasters and I jumped at the chance to work for them. Eileen and Jeremy were both energized, passionate, friendly and on a mission to bring GREAT coffee to San Francisco. Ritual Coffee Roasters was where I truly found my joy and fire for coffee. I was their 2nd official employee. The idea that Stumptown was bringing to the table; one where the farm and producer matter, that the processing matters, that the relationship between buyer and producer matters and has great impact was something that I never thought about before Ritual. It helped me become an aware and educated citizen of the world. As a Latino I was blown away at how little I knew of the market, of the traditions, of the antiquities that still survive in the process of importing coffee. I also knew, it was an industry full of bright, good people wanting to make a difference and one in which they actually COULD make a difference. That is when the hooks got deeper for me, and it is why I remain in coffee. I have worked for fantastic people, that have taught me so much more beyond just coffee. They have taught me that actions speak louder than words, that communication and heart are hugely important and that in coffee cash may be king, but if you want to help the world, HEART is hugely important. More on heart, roots and communications on the next post. Meanwhile, sip your coffee and enjoy, because someone put their hard work and love into it!