Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite roaster, PT’s Coffee in Topeka, Kansas. PT’s Coffee Roasting Company is one of those rare breeds of roaster that is, what Jeff Taylor (one of the owners and founder of PT’s) refers to as “industry famous”. PT’s was one of the pioneers of Direct Trade coffee, sourcing by traveling to farms in Central and South America and interacting with the individual owners of these farms. He has sourced along side Klatch Coffee, Intelligentsia and Stumptown yet, most coffee civilians have yet to hear of PT’s.
Jeff Taylor is certainly the charismatic leader of the group with a brackish beard and a generous laugh. Fred Polzin has been his partner and support system since the beginning with his positive attitude and straight manner of speaking. With the addition of an old friend and former college professor Brent Piepergerdes they have struck an internal balance that will take them to the next level. I recently had the pleasure of visiting their roasting operation and learning all about their process. One thing is certain, I don’t know another coffee company that is still sourcing coffees as meticulously as they do. The process starts with visits to origin, seeking great growing conditions and developing relationships with farmers that are eager to improve their standards and form lasting relationships. Jeff reminisces about the early days (early 90’s) when no one had been sourcing directly and all the industry believed the threshold of achievable quality was low. “When we first went down there, the first thing I noticed was how dirty the farms and washing stations were. So, we helped clean them up and said, ‘now lets try the coffee’ and the difference was already tremendous. Once we all understood that we could improve quality, we became very excited to discover what else could make a difference.” This is how the beginning of Specialty coffee happened.
“We would go down and work on a new idea with a farmer and quality would improve again and we would pay a premium for that quality. When went home, the farmers would visit other farms and spread the word on how to improve the quality and how to earn more money per pound. So, it grew and grew by word of mouth and continuous support from roasters like Intelli, Klatch etc. Now the amount of great coffee being grown is tremendous.” Once the coffee gets back to the states, PT’s roast master Adam Ross begins his process. Adam has three roasters to choose from, a 5k Deidrich, 24k Deidrich and a 90k Gothot lovingly referred to as “Bertha”. All the coffees are roasted to order to insure freshness and individual care. For instance: if PT’s receives a small order of just 2lbs of Kenya on any given day then it will be roasted by hand on the 5k.
Next, every roast is cupped by Maritza Suarez de Taylor the Director of QC and happens to be Jeff’s wife. No nepotism here, Maritza is a certified Q Grader and grew up with coffee farms in Columbia. Coffees that pass the test are hand packed, sealed and direct shipped to your home or cafe. So, why haven’t we heard of these guys?! Well, if you ever get the unique pleasure of visiting Topeka, Kansas you will start to understand. It is a bit remote, spread out and light in population and yes, it is smack in the middle of the country. This is all about to change. With twenty years of experience: sourcing, roasting and operating cafes PT’s is ready to step into the light. With new cafes in the works, a strong social media plan (including some great video of origin trips) and wholesale support in cities like Indianapolis, Nashville, DC and New York PT’S is inviting the world to taste and test its coffee. Not to mention they are now the first official distributor of the Slayer espresso machine (this is the Bentley of espresso equipment). PT’s is a treasure for Topeka (and soon for the rest of us) cause without coffee, it’s just Kansas.