Jeff Taylor, co-founder, CEO and Director of Coffee Operations for PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., founded PT’s Coffee in 1993.
Prior to creating PT’s with business partner Fred Polzin, Jeff was an award-winning photojournalist for several newspapers and wire services, including the Topeka Capital Journal.
He has been published in many national publications, including Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, USA Today, ESPN The Magazine, Associated Press and REUTERS News Service.
Jeff earned a number of awards from the Associated Press, Inland Press, and the National Press Photographers Association, including “Region 9 Photographer of the Year in 1990” before retiring from Photojournalism in 2004 to pursue coffee passions full-time.
Jeff worked with many others to develop, what eventually became the United States Barista Competition dating back to 1999. In that year a member of PT’s staff placed second in the little known Torani Barista Competition. As a member of the founding committee for the United States Barista Competition, Jeff traveled around the world judging the USBC, Mexican National Barista Competition and the World Barista Competition in the competition’s formative years. But after several years of voluntary service, he returned to focus on buying coffee for PT’s and began the work of developing PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.’s Direct Trade Program.
After his work with the competition Jeff was nominated, and subsequently accepted, a position on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Board of Directors, serving one term.
While serving on the board for the SCAA, Jeff made the transition to Coffee Buyer for PT’s Coffee and began the process of building relationships with producers around the world, specifically with the best producers in each country. To this day, Jeff travels to meet with our coffee-producing partners in Central & South America and Africa, to experiment, source and evaluate the harvests from each farm, and develop a strategy of partnering on social projects. This direct relationship with the producer guarantees that the price paid for the coffee goes straight to the farmer and not through a third-party middleman.
Fred Polzin, co-founder of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., was born in Hoisington, Kansas, in 1963. Fred grew up in Emporia where he graduated from Emporia High School in 1981. He attended both Emporia State University and Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, majoring in Communications and Political Science.
Fred and Jeff decided to open their first coffeehouse in 1993.
Prior to that, Fred had managed a number of fast food restaurants including Burger King and Schlotzsky’s, giving the partnership the experience it needed on the retail level to succeed.
As the small coffee house business began to take off, Fred left his full-time job with Schlotzsky’s Corp., to pursue this new venture. PT’s began roasting its own coffee for restaurants and coffee houses throughout northeast Kansas. Soon, the business expanded and additional coffeehouses were added.
In 1999, Fred led the charge to form PT’s Coffee, a wholesale company and supplier of micro-roasted coffee in the Midwest. There is one retail location and well over 200 wholesale accounts across the country.
Maritza Taylor has been in the coffee industry since 1999. She began her career as a quality control analyst for the Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) in Bogota, Colombia, serving in this capacity for five years.
She accepted a position with Neumann Coffee Group in Bogota, in 2003 to work with Quality Assurance for Specialty Coffee. Neumann Coffee Group has 46 companies in 28 countries offering green coffee services all over the world.
As part of her responsibility, Maritza was one of the first four coffee professionals in Colombia certified by the Quality Coffee Institute as a Q-Grader. Shortly thereafter, she became one of only seven Certified Instructors of the Q-Grader Program in Colombia.
Maritza is now the Director of Quality Control for PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., based in Topeka, Kansas. She works to ensure all of our Direct Trade partners are meeting, or surpassing, our quality standards and continually building relationships with producers.
Brent has been with PT’s since 2011 but is by no means new to our company. Together with his wife, he formerly managed one of PT’s longest standing wholesale clients. Brent brings over ten years of management experience to his position as Director of Operations and Sustainability. Brent oversees coordination of our daily wholesale operations and financial management. Working directly with our Production and Sales Teams, our Customer Service, Design, and Marketing Staff, and our Directors of Coffee and Quality Control, he wears numerous hats for PT’s.
Brent brings a unique and valuable expertise to our broader Sustainability and Direct Trade missions. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography and has taught over a dozen different courses in the Political Science Department at Washburn University, and the Geography Department and Environmental Studies Program at The University of Kansas. His advanced knowledge of environmental law and social justice issues is an asset to our evolving initiatives to encourage and support sustainable practices at origin and to broaden our educational capacity both domestically and abroad. His practical knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, climate and soil analysis, and biogeography provide us with an impressive opportunity to embolden our working relationships with our Direct Trade partners. Here at our roasting facility, this skill set also applies to Brent’s initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint, institute everyday green practices, and develop partnerships with local farmers involving composting of production by-products.
Chuck Patton started roasting coffee in 2001 with a DIY home coffee roaster, a fateful gift from his wife, Elke. Soon after experimenting at home, he turned his new hobby into a small business selling his coffee at farmers markets, home deliveries and at a small kiosk.
A few years later, Chuck made the bold move to open a retail shop on La Jolla Boulevard directly across the street from a Starbucks, and the first Bird Rock Coffee Roasters retail location was born.
Chuck was the first coffee business owner in San Diego to introduce direct trade coffee, valuing the quality and farmer relationships above all and helped shape the ways in which these growers were compensated internationally. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters expanded to three locations in San Diego and received numerous local and national awards under Chuck’s leadership. These awards including Micro Roaster of the Year in 2012, Good Food Award winner for 2016 + 2017, top 40 coffee shops in the United States, gold and silver awards for roasting, and the number one coffee in an international competition of “The Best 30 Coffees of 2016.”
In early 2017, Chuck sold Bird Rock Coffee Roasters to Jeff Taylor and partners from PT’s coffee. As Head Coffee Buyer for both Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and PT’s Coffee he will continue to do what he loves best, find us the best coffees in the world.
Mike started off as a frequent customer of our retail shop when in February 2009 was hired at the roasting facility in our office as the lead Customer Service Representative where he got to know all of our Wholesale Partners and many Retail Customers, as well as our Direct Trade Farmers.
As of January 2011 he had transitioned to production full time in the Warehouse as Production Manager and Roaster. Roasts on a 5kg IR-Deidrich, 24kg IR-Deidrich, and 90kg Gothot.
Also is part of our Coffee Development & Cupping Quality Control team.
Has been a Roasters Guild and SCAA member since 2014 and is currently working on finishing up on his Roaster’s Certificate.
In the years from when he started, he has seen PT’s grow and change, and is glad to have been there then, and where we are today, and looks forward to see where we will be in the future.
As a German native, Lara has always been in love with European coffeehouses and cafés. She moved back and forth between Germany and Kansas for a few years and has worked as a cashier, caretaker, and transcriptionist. When a packaging job at PT’s showed her the wonderful world of specialty coffee, she knew she had found her calling. Lara is an Apprentice Roaster and Production Assistant in the PT’s roasting facility. She has won several in-house brewing competitions, placing her as a top coffee aficionado among the staff. Cool, calm, and collected, Lara is a real gem and we’re glad to have her as part of the team.
In her free time, Lara most enjoys creating things and being by the lake with friends. She’s all about good conversations around the campfire and sharing a great beer with friends.
Meghan unwittingly started her path to a PT’s career back in high school as a regular customer after school and on weekends. She attended the University of Kansas and graduated with a degree in English Literature. Since the degree didn’t automatically make her the next Great American Author, she worked at a library and completed the Masters of Library Science program at Emporia State University. After taking the library world by storm, she left to raise a family.
In October of 2013, Meghan officially joined the PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. family as the office manager in our roasting facility. She manages the daily orders, oversees shipping, and acts as liaison between our customers and production staff. She is still waiting for her letter from Hogwarts.
Audre came to PT’s from Springfield, Missouri, where she has had nearly 10 years of experience in the coffee industry. During that time she has worked as a barista, with start-up cafes, wholesale sales, and business management. She has experience in training, consulting, menu development, and cafe management. It’s an impressive resume and it means she understands the amount of effort and planning it takes to run a successful cafe. It is her goal to use these tools to support you to greater success.
Outside of work, Audre enjoys being with people, hosting dinner parties and wine nights, or going out and sampling the local food and beverage scene.
Autumn started working for PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. as a part-time barista in its original cafe location in 1998, eventually becoming that store’s acting manager. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies.
Along with maintaining the company website and copywriting, she gets to use her nearly 20 years of coffee experience and skills in video production as a member of PT’s marketing team. She is proud to play a role in PT’s Coffee’s growth as we continue to bring people the world’s best coffees.
In her free time, Autumn enjoys traveling, backpacking, biking and bike camping. In 2014, she spent six weeks camping and working trail maintenance in Thorsmork (Þórsmörk), Iceland and conquered the Laugavegurinn. She has recently started a victory garden and, when she isn’t camping out in a tent, she likes to take it easy with a movie and some wine.
Austin, a long time resident of Kansas City’s Missouri and Kansas, began his career at PT’s, part time in 2014’s summer. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with his coworkers, shop, customers, and neighborhood as well as the craft of extracting excellent coffee. He counts himself privileged to represent PT’s presence in his favorite city.
Austin has always had an itch for two things: people and adventure. His hobbies and interests are as spread apart and sporadic as the Midwest weather. A rock climbing, backpacking, movie-going, reading enthusiast, Austin can be found eating BBQ or sushi, enjoying folk or hip-hop, discussing theology or philosophy, and loving his Saint Bernard Boone and wife, Kaytlyn. He is currently building a tiny house and believes:
“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
Do yourself and allow him the favor of serving you well-crafted coffee or espresso by visiting our shop in the crossroads district.
Leah most enjoys exploring life with others: to her it’s about being and sharing. Life is better shared.
After a brief stint working as both a barista and part of the PT’s production team, Leah currently answers customer service questions and assists in getting orders out the door into your eager hands. Before working at PT’s in Customer Education and Support, Leah worked with a non-profit organization off the coast of Northern California. She is a Kansas native turned world explorer. If you don’t find her drinking coffee, you’ll probably find her exploring a new city or country, backpacking, biking, running or doing anything outdoors while making new friends along the way. She is always planning her next adventure while making sure she is surrounded by great people and great coffee.
Coffee has been a part of Corbin’s life for nearly a decade. The tasty brown elixir kept him fueled as he pursued a degree in Fine Arts from Washburn University and he paid for his habit by scrubbing toilets for a local law office. Corbin officially joined the PT’s family as our delivery driver in the summer of 2015. You can spot his beautiful hair as he weaves through traffic distributing pounds of beans in the Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City areas.
In his free time, you’ll likely catch Corbin doing deep, deep nerd stuff like playing D&D and board games, sketching and painting, or working on plans to launch his rap career.
Brooke worked as a barista at the College Hill location for two years, but now you can find her working in Customer Service, Sales, & Education at the Roasting Facility. Outside of coffee her hobbies include: jamming out in her car, water colors, eating all of the food, yoga, and binge watching Rick & Morty.