Eton Tsuno, director of coffee at Temple Coffee Roasters, talks to us about his coffee career, his role at Temple, and Temple’s collaboration with Boyd Guildner of Renegade Roasters to design a first-of-its-kind roaster.
BY SARAH RICHMOND
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Eton Tsuno has been working in coffee for over 17 years. In fact, it’s the only profession he has ever known. From his start as a barista in high school to operating his own catering business in college to opening a multi-roaster cafe in his hometown of Los Angeles in 2005, Eton’s coffee experience eventually led to landing at Temple Coffee Roasters as their director of coffee in 2011. Currently, Eton is responsible for green buying and overseeing Temple’s multiple retail locations. He’s also masterminding the expansion of Temple’s new roasting operations, which include a four-year collaboration with Boyd Guildner of Renegade Roasters to design an innovative roaster.
Sarah Richmond: Tell us about Temple Coffee Roasters. How and when did the business begin?
Eton Tsuno: Temple Coffee Roasters was founded in 2005 by Sean Kohmescher. The idea of open, comfortable gathering spaces for communities, combined with coffee’s ability to strike conversation, spawned the name Temple and continues to drive our cafés’ ambiances as we expand. Temple’s first location was opened serving Barefoot Coffee Roasters in 2005. In 2009, the second location was opened in Midtown Sacramento with a UG15kg Probat. Since then, Temple has been roasting and sourcing their own coffee.
Currently, we have five retail locations (four in Sacramento, one in Davis), a roastery, and a wholesale program. We have grown our coffee volume from about 40,000 pounds in 2009 to about 12 containers (roughly 450,000 pounds) for 2017-18.
SR: What makes Sacramento distinctive? How would you describe the coffee community there?
ET: Sacramento is unique in many ways. Of course, it’s the capital of California. But perhaps the most valid feature is Sacramento’s location, Central California, right between Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe. We are one of the closest urban environments to the bounty that is California farming.
The recent droughts and even more recent heavy rains seem to have made the connection between Sacramento and our California farming community even greater, leading many people to make a greater connection with their food from “Farm-to-Fork,” Sacramento’s new city slogan. Coincidently, this helps us and assists our coffee community by supplying consumers who are seeking out quality coffee that lines up with the Farm-to-Fork model. Lucky for us, the coffee industry has been doing this since the early pioneers of Direct Trade in the early 2000s, and we have great footsteps to model after. The best thing about the coffee community here is that we all want specialty coffee to succeed. The local roasters in Sacramento have founded two annual events, SPLAT (Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament) in 2013 and Specialty Coffee Week in 2015.
SR: In addition to multiple retail locations and a burgeoning wholesale program, what other areas of growth has Temple Coffee experienced over the years?
ET: Our social media/online presence has increased exponentially over the past four years. For example, we started with roughly 200 followers on Instagram and now have 49,000 followers. This kind of presence doesn’t only help our cool factor, but creates a solid foundation to build our brand and expand the reach of Temple Coffee. Coincidentally, our retail web sales have been growing at over 35 percent over the past three years, and we have also seen more wholesale customer inquiries and contacts from outside our area.
SR: Tell us what makes your space unique compared to other coffee production facilities.
ET: First and foremost, it was important for our community to be involved or at least see the coffee-roasting process. With this in mind, we made a conscious decision to build our coffee roasting and operations building next to our Midtown S Street location. We had far less expensive options to move to more industrial areas, but since Temple was founded on the belief of community gathering places, why not make a base for coffee roasting in our community as well?
Besides coffee production, the 3000-square-foot building also includes a training room equipped with multiple espresso machines, grinders, cupping supplies, and everything else one may need to facilitate classes and trainings for our retail and wholesale locations. We also offer classes to the public that focus on everything from brewing basics for coffee and tea, to a full, hands-on home barista class.
On the roasting side, we are currently in the process of permitting and installing a 60 kg Renegade Roaster with two destoner silos (300-pound capacity and 500-pound capacity), a 500-pound blending table, a green coffee loader, and roasted coffee conveying directly to packing.
In the meantime, we are roasting in our old roastery next door and doing all of our packing and shipping from the new building. Our new roasting operations can’t come soon enough!
We’ll have more from Eton tomorrow, including more about the new, innovative roaster Temple is working on with Renegade Roasters!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Richmond relocated back to the Bay Area to manage and operate Bay Area CoRo in 2016. Her experience as a roaster, wholesale director, production manager, barista trainer, and writer affords her over a decade of experience in specialty coffee. Sarah’s bi-coastal work experience inspired a deep appreciation for writing about coffee culture and the ever-growing, ever-changing industry. She is currently serving on the National Editorial Advisory Board for Barista Magazine and can be found hiking up the nearest trail, mountain, or hillside when she’s not playing coffee.