Name: Chuck Patton
Title: Owner, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, La Jolla, CA
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Hometown: Pacific Beach community. Went to elementary, junior high and high school within a few miles of present day Bird Rock Coffee Roasters retail location.
Cafe Hound: Where does your passion for specialty coffee come from? When was that?
Chuck: I started drinking a lot of coffee in high school just for the buzz. Several years ago, my wife got me a home roaster and I spent a lot of time experimenting with different beans from Sweet Maria’s until the hobby grew into a business.
CH: Tell me about your entry to coffee industry.
Chuck: I bought a one pound fluid air roaster for about US$3,500 and began a home delivery service. I also sold my coffee at the La Jolla farmers market.
CH: How many years of experience do you have in coffee industry?
Chuck: I started the business in 2002.
CH: Did you work for other coffee establishments before starting your coffee business?
Chuck: No. I was self taught.
CH: What was the first location of your business?
Chuck: I did not have a location at first. I roasted out of the VFW on Turquoise because they had a health permit. Then, I rented space in a restaurant that is now out of business on La Jolla Blvd. I converted his wine bar into a coffee bar for morning business but it did not do well. I chalked it up to a learning experience. Then, I rented a coffee kiosk on Turquoise behind Albertson’s and operated out of there as the smallest licensed coffee wholesaler in California. Then, I bought the business of a guy who was burnt out. It included a list of wholesale accounts and a Probat L12 but, operated out of Miramar. So, we did that for about a year until we moved here.
CH: Who were your initial clients?
Chuck: Most of our clients are from Bird Rock, La Jolla, and Pacific Beach.
Bean & Drink Talk
CH: Where do you buy your beans from?
Chuck: Different brokers. If we are buying directly from farmers, we still need to work with an importer and exporter.
CH: Do you roast your own beans?
Chuck: We roast our own.
CH: Do you sell wholesale or online?
Chuck: Yes, we do wholesale and also sell online.
CH: How often do you order beans? How often do you roast?
Chuck: We roast 5 days a week and order coffee at least twice a month.
CH: How do you name your blends?
Chuck: We only have two blends. We focus on single-origin coffee.
CH: What are your top 3 favorite roasts of the recent past?
Chuck: First, Ethiopia Amaro Gayo city roast. Second, Panama La Esmeralda city roast. And third, Costa Rica Micro-lot full city roast.
CH: What is your favorite drink?
CH: What drink is the most sold at Bird Rock?
CH: Are there any interesting stories behind your drink names?
Chuck: Trophy wife and sugar daddy are self-explanatory considering the area our café is located.
CH: Do you have any plans for expansion?
Chuck: Secret. No comment.
CH: So…what’s next? Beyond the business, what else you would like to do through your work?Chuck: We are currently working on a water filtration project for some of the farmers we are working with in Huila. I will return to Colombia next month to install the second generation of prototypes in a few of the farmers’ homes. I believe we have a responsibility to the farmers we buy coffee from that goes beyond simply purchasing “Fair Trade” coffee so we will focus on projects like this in the future.
CH: What else do you want to tell our reader?
Chuck: We are continuing to seek out and purchase high quality coffee directly from farmers so we are increasing our travel time as we begin to develop relationships with farming groups.
CH: Thank you for sharing your interesting story with us.
Bird Rock Coffee Roaster 5627 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037 Tel. 858 551 1707 www.birdrockcoffeeroasters.com
We would like to thank Chuck and the good folks at Bird Rock Coffee for roasting the beans used in the first release of Kris/Maher Blend. Maher also wants to thank all of the employees for keeping him caffeinated and happy over his last year of residence in Pacific Beach, especially Hector, Jocylynn, and Tony. Maher knows he’s forgetting the two dudes that used to make sure he got his morning espresso as he rushed to school – unfortunately, the key word was “rush”.
Photo credits: cafehound.com and http://www.lajollalight.com/life/258652-taste-of-bird-rock