Women in Coffee: Jill Fountain


How did I get started as a technician?

It is hard to tell, but I’d like to blame it on all the puzzles my parents bought me as a kid. I had the same fascination then as I did the first time someone showed me how to rebuild a La Marzocco Linea steam valve. It was 2006 and I was working in a coffee house as a barista. I remember the excitement of disassembling the valve and discovering the inner workings, the satisfaction of fitting all the pieces back together, and experiencing the improved functionality. I had already been dabbling in the mechanical world most of my life, so combining my affinity for coffee houses and my interest in engineering, I fell in love with espresso machines.

Unlike many technicians I know, I was fortunate enough to find an apprenticeship after many years of being mostly self-taught. In 2013 I began working with Michael Wilkins, a life-long mechanic and specialty coffee veteran. One of the most important things he taught me was that “the repair happens in your mind”, and, although I used to get frustrated when my somewhat simple and straightforward questions would be answered with a broad and indirect reply, such as “let’s begin with a talk about the theory of electricity”, I eventually realized the value in the way Michael taught me to understand systems as a whole. I believe this type of well-rounded thinking has led me to be a better mechanic and allowed me the ability to understand all types of machinery, not only coffee equipment.

Michael and I are now co-owners of a tech service in Austin, TX called Macchinisti. When I am not working you may find me throwing down at a barista jam, or perhaps doing the electrical wiring/plumbing/framing for our shop space. Still striving to expand my skills as a coffee technician through a greater understanding of engineering. 

The puzzles have just gotten bigger, and more interesting…