I’m the home unit repair guy here at Texas Coffee Techs, a sister company to Texas Coffee Traders (TCT). I wasn’t always in this line of work, but I've always had a mind to fix things. Before TCT, I built guitars and I would always take things apart to see how they worked. I wasn't bad at it.
My adventure started back when I was slinging cocktails in the heart of Downtown Austin. The late nights and clientele caused this line of work to become undesirable. The bar I worked for cross-trained the bartenders to use the big, four-group La Marzocco espresso machine. I was thrilled for a change of pace, and I learned what a real macchiato was. Later, I’d learn that art could be done on top of lattes. After a few gallons of milk, I could finally make some cool designs. My taste for coffee changed seemingly overnight, and I simply craved the stuff. Months later, I packed up and moved on from bartending. In light of my new experience, I sought out barista jobs.
Texas Coffee Traders was looking to fill their University campus staff. I interviewed at the amazing warehouse where I saw giant bags of coffee beans in burlap sacks. The smell of roasted coffee filled the air. The job was mine.
The espresso machine at the shop was not the same kind of machine I learned to make espresso on. It was a commercial, super-automatic machine, which turned out to be a blessing. With the amount of customers that would come in, it would have been overwhelming to use a manual machine. Many times I would make around 75 drinks in an hour, but every latte would have some art on it.
The rushes at the coffee shop would go on throughout the school year. When summertime rolled around, things slowed down on campus. Aware of the change of pace, TCT allowed those who didn’t want to lose out on work hours to contribute in the warehouse.
In the warehouse, I began to learn how we produce coffee. During that summer, I filled coffee orders backstage with some awesome people. I instantly felt like part of the family. The warehouse was definitely where I wanted to work on a more permanent base.
When the school year was about to pick back up, I expressed my interest in working at the warehouse more often. I'd always poke my head in the service office asking if they were hiring – a roaster job opened up and I asked to be considered. Two weeks later I was interviewing with the Roastmaster General. He liked me enough to hire me on and show me the ropes.
Now I was the one producing that wonderful aroma you could smell from blocks away, luring you in. Roasting coffee was not too difficult, but the work behind roasting was exhausting.
A few months later as the roasting season slowed down, I was asked if I'd be interested in working with the techs. I said, "That's exactly what I want to do!" I interviewed and was accepted! Excited to begin a new chapter in my career, I began training on how to fix espresso machines.
Like a dry sponge, I absorbed the tech life. I started taking dead machines apart to save the good parts to use later if needed. I asked what every piece was and how it worked and what it did. I picked this job up faster than I ever thought I would.
Every day is filled with challenges, new adventures, and descaling machines. I’ve seen a lot of home espresso machines – some in great shape – most in dire need of attention. I’ve encountered moldy rice inside a super-automatic machine and decalcified vinegary boilers. There is always something to fix and it keeps my mind and body happy knowing that I'm helping the world in some weird way.