I can say, without reservation that Fonté Coffee is one of the best coffees I have ever had. Imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to "e-chat" with Fonté's Founder and President Paul Odom.
How old were you when you had your first cup of coffee?
PO: I must have been 3 or 4 years old when I took a sip of my Father's coffee.
I remember it being pretty bad. Today I might refer to it as sour and underdeveloped.
I did notice that with enough sugar and milk it was much more tolerable,
but I am purist at heart and enjoy the aroma and the flavors without adding anything else.
Where did you learn to roast coffee?
PO: Seattle. I learned how to roast coffee on a little 25 kilo Probat I purchased
from a failing Seattle coffee company.
Who was your coffee mentor?
PO: Steve Smith. Without a doubt, Steve is the most tenured coffee person in Seattle.
When I met Steve in 1992 we made a six month deal that he would show me how to roast and
we have now been working together for 22 years. When I first met Steve at a tasting,
our palettes seemed to be in agreement. After talking, we also realized that our goals
were similar too. We were both interested in focusing on the craft of coffee roasting and
seeking out special beans to create flavor profiles that coffee lovers would appreciate.
What makes a great coffee?
PO: Handpicked second or third pass coffee from respected farmers.
After that, coffee that is roasted 72 hours prior has the most fresh, vibrant taste.
There are other important factors such as a proper grind setting, proper water to coffee ratio,
the purity of the water with mineral content that allow for best possible taste experience.
For me, my favorite cup of coffee is our Bin 16, primarily made up of award winning coffee
from Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Guatemala in a French press.
I always travel with this coffee and my French press.
What are the advantages of microroasted coffees over “big lot” coffee roasters?
PO: We can focus on our craft with our master roaster, who enjoys utilizing the roasters
to perfect taste profiles which have the ability to make sure that our popular blends
maintain consistency for customers who love their certain coffees.
Also, Micro Roasters have fun! We can be creative, seeking out unique, exciting small lot
coffees around the world and share them with our coffee lover customers who want to
experience more elaborate flavor profiles.
We also work with individual chefs who want to create a custom blend to suit their menu.
We don't have to sell our coffee on price, I have found that people are willing to pay more
for our coffee due to our distinct flavor. This is the exciting part of the business for us!
We have the advantage of having a creative fluidity that big lot roasters may not be able
to afford to do due to volume or to meet profitability goals.
What are, or do you have expansion plans for Fonté?
PO: Because we’re a family-owned company we are very conscientious about our
expansion plans and evaluate each opportunity with care.
We are looking to open more bars in Seattle and have always been interested in adding
a Fonté Coffee bars in San Francisco, LA and New York City.
Where can we find Fonté outside of the Seattle/Washington area?
PO: We have clients throughout the United States.
Our clients are primarily luxury hotels and resorts, some that have famous chefs presiding
over their restaurants, as well as owner operated coffee bars that we feel have panache
and style everywhere from Los Angeles to New York, Las Vegas and more.
We love working with these creative people!
Our clients are listed on our website at fontecoffee.com.
We also have a presence with Sur La Table at surlatable.com and
Amazon Fresh at amazonfresh.com.
What’s your preference – light roast or dark roast?
PO: I prefer the right roast, depending on the coffee it’s safe to say during second crack.