Welcome to the first of a multi-blog series on Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company and Head Roast Master Chris DeMezzo.
We all know my love for Joffrey’s Coffee, so imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to talk to Chris by phone for an hour. Yes, I was a tad star struck, and Chris is exceptionally knowledgeable – but mostly I found his profound passion for coffee mesmerizing…I could have easily talked to him for hours. In this series, we will explore how he got started with Joffrey’s, what makes him so passionate about coffee, some of the mistakes he may have made along the way, and of course the greatness that he has created that sits in your morning cup of coffee. So, sit back with a nice cup of Joffrey’s and enjoy!
How It All Began…
When I asked Chris how he started in the coffee business, and where his love for coffee began, he told me a story of chance and accidents. I always imagined that the man that flies around the world to bring us the greatest coffee must have been a coffee drinker since birth. I was shocked to learn Chris didn’t drink coffee until after a full year of working for Joffrey’s. So how did Chris and Joffrey’s find each other?
Working for an aluminum company in New Jersey that hit hard times during the recession of the late 70’s, he was transferred to the plant in Tampa, Florida. When the company experienced more struggles, he was about to be transferred again when Chris’ sister-in-law told him about a job at a small coffee company. He was hired at 8 dollars an hour, not because of his knowledge about coffee, but largely because he had his own tools. (Thank goodness for tools!)
It was sink or swim right from the beginning, as his bosses wished him luck as they walked out the door to lunch. Living in fear of burning down the company in his early months, Chris got to work learning everything about coffee. The middle of five children in an Italian family, growing up his experience with coffee was essentially Biscotti dipped into Maxwell House. Chris had a lot to learn! He read anything he could, and learned by trial and error. He was always asking questions of the companies he was buying the coffee beans from, absorbing as much information as possible. After twelve months, Chris had his first cup of Mocha Java and the proverbial light bulb went off: “This is delicious… how did I do this, and how can I make this better?”
Chris clearly learned how to do it better over the years, always keeping his standards high, and learning to brew amazing coffee. How? “Every morning I get to do something I love, I love it always.” — Chris DeMezzo