Arts and Culture

How to get my job: Coffee Roaster

Denver has some amazing coffee shops and some of the country's best roasts to boot. Amazingly, people don't seem to pick up on the connection as often as they should -- many shops in town roast their own coffee. It might seem counterintuitive for people that hit up the chains, where their coffee is often roasted by robots buried deep inside the Himalayas, but a lot of the smaller shops in town have one or two folks sweating over a roaster day in and day out, much like a brewmaster. Case in point, we talked to Jeremy Turner, who handles the roasting duties for Pablo's Coffee.

Westword: Tell us a little about your history as a coffee roaster. Jeremy Turner: I've been doing it now for about eight-and-a-half years.

WW: Why did you decide to start working as a roaster, and when did you know it was what you wanted to do? JT: I decided to work as a roaster after working in coffee shops for a few years and the opportunity presented itself. I knew it was what I wanted to do when we bought the roaster and started roasting our own coffee. I wanted to make something better (and cheaper) than what we were getting from our coffee supplier.

WW: How would you recommend someone get started in your field? JT: I would recommend reading as much as you can find about coffee; there aren't many good books out there about coffee that are written for anyone beyond the casual consumer, but one book I would recommend is Espresso Coffee: the Science of Quality, by Andrea Illy. It's a very detailed, comprehensive book about coffee, from its cultivation and cultivars to the harvest and processing. It's also a very detailed examination of the roasting process, as well as an exhaustive examination of the brewing of espresso. It really has more info about coffee than anyone would ever need. I read it a few times.

WW: Can you describe an average day? JT: My day starts at 6 a.m. I start by pre-heating the roaster for about 20 minutes. While the roaster is heating up I usually check our website to see if there are any online orders to fill. I also take this time to check our store voicemail for any wholesale orders. After the roaster is heated I roast the coffee I need for the day to fill my orders. Then shut down the roaster and clean it out before heading to the post office to ship out any online orders. Lastly I return to our coffee shop with any coffee I have to sell in the shop.

WW: What's the best part about your job? JT: It pays well and I pretty much set my own hours. I get to be creative with blends and I get to make a product that a lot of people really enjoy and couldn't make it through their day without. It's a pretty sweet deal now that I think about it.

WW: What's the worst part? JT: I guess dealing with coffee shop owners. For a business with the name "coffee" in its name, coffee shop owners are really bad at remembering to order coffee.

WW: How about the biggest misconception? JT: I'm not sure if there are misconceptions about roasting coffee. Maybe people believe that coffee has to be from Columbia in order to be good. While coffee from Columbia is good, I don't think it would make it into my top five favorite origins. My favorites would be, in order: Ethiopia, Sumatra, Flores, Kenya and Costa Rica.

WW: Anything you're particularly proud or embarrassed of? JT: I am really proud of building a coffee brand that has been so successful from scratch (with a lot of help from my coworkers).