Member Spotlight: Kaleb Leach, Texas Coffee Techs

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I got my first job in coffee in 1995 as an apprentice coffee roaster at Coffee Corner in Eugene, Oregon. I loved roasting coffee and I was passionate about it. At that point in my life I thought that roasting coffee is all I would ever want to do.  In my downtime, I was taught the basics of how to repair espresso machines, brewers, grinders and the 1950 15 kilo Probat. Part of my job as the roaster was to repair and maintain the equipment for five of our retail shops and wholesale customers. There was a warehouse full of equipment the company had acquired over thirty years of operation and I went through all of it: AMW, Bunn, Grindmaster, Astoria, La Marzocco, Ditting, and Mazzer to name a few.

In 1999, my wife Joy and I had our first daughter Chloe and we moved back to Austin, Texas. I applied for a few roaster jobs with no luck, but Texas Coffee Traders (TCT) recognized that I had some tech skills, and since they didn't need a roaster at the time they asked if I would be interested in being a coffee technician. Honestly, I didn't realize that “coffee tech” was a job. TCT brought me on as a Tech and I never looked back. TCT has given me the opportunity to work on equipment from just about every manufacturer in the world, and participate in coffee service for restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, bodegas, offices, etc.

In 2005, I went to work for Starbucks with their facilities team. At Starbucks, there were only four varieties of coffee equipment, which was not as technically challenging as my time at TCT. However, my supervisor and mentor Peter Martinez was instrumental in my growth as a leader, and I learned how to work with vendors as well as manage all aspects (floor to roof) of the coffee shop. 

I left Starbucks in 2009, and came back to TCT to manage the service company Texas Coffee Techs Inc. At TCT, we like to say we can fix anything from the crack of dawn to a broken heart. With the help of an amazing team, we have been able to grow the service company from 2 technicians to 8. We now have 5 techs in the field and 4 in the shop, and they are responsible for repairing domestic machines as well as commercial. I love being a part of the coffee world and hope to continue to learn and teach others. In the past 16 years, I have had the opportunity to work with so many great people in the coffee industry and every day is a fun new experience.