April 2009

Making the transition from barista to wholesale rep was not an easy one for me.

In a cafe setting, especially working for Intelligentsia, you are given the instruction to uphold the highest quality, whatever the cost. It really is remarkable to work for a company where, if you have an idea or find product that will improve quality and raise standards, all you have to do is present it and prove that it makes sense and chances are it will be implemented. It was like going to work everyday in a lab where you just question everything you do for the sake of finding a better way. It was great.

Wholesale is different. In the wholesale world I am charged with the responsibility to find customers who will uphold as high a standard as we do and invest the time and resources it takes to represent the coffee I’m selling in a similar way that we do in our cafes. I wish I could say that every wholesale account we have does as good a job as we do, but we don’t live in a perfect world. And to find people who care about your product as much as you do is nearly impossible. I say nearly because every now and again, you find people that are consumed by coffee, that understand what we do and why and consider it a great responsibility, not to us, but to the producers. Those are dream accounts. But, for a large number of the wholesale accounts I’ve been too, there seems to be this disconnect in either the knowledge, training, equipment or dedication it takes to make great espresso and brewed coffee. Whether it be lack of perspective, distrust, bad habits or they just don’t care, there is a lot of room for improvement in the wholesale world. It can be frustrating and sometimes infuriating, but I always learn something new from these accounts.   

Anyone who’s read my blog knows, writing is not my calling. However, I’ll do my best to cover and explore some of the problems I listed above: Perspective, Distrust, Bad Habits and Lack of Passion. 

If anyone has any other topic ideas or specific questions you want answered, bring it on. I’ll do my best to answer all questions as thoroughly as I can. And please, be patient. With a wife, daughter, work and a newly adopted dog, these post could be spread out quite a bit!

Peace Out,


BTW – Congratulations to Gwilym Davies, our new world barista champ.

And a huge congratulations to Mike Philips, who came in 3rd in the world. 

Coverage for the event was pretty disappointing. With the live feed going in and out and nothing other than barista profiles, the event was actually fairly boring. Which is a shame because the coverage for the WRBC and the USBC seemed to be getting progressively better. I think someone should be in charge of media coverage for the event. There should be more videos, better blog content and more people involved to ensure better coverage and content.


I’ve decided to start posting in regards to coffee on a wholesale level.

I’ve avoided this for quite sometime, but I think it might be interesting to some people to hear what a wholesale representative, for arguably the best coffee roaster in the states, might think about the do’s and don’ts of setting up a retail coffee operation.

More to folloow…