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.
Adam Ross began his journey at PT’s Coffee almost nine years ago as a barista at our original cafe. He worked on bar for more than three years before making his transition into roasting.
When Adam began roasting coffee, it was on our Diedrich IR-24. One of the most important factors of Adam’s position, is maintaining consistency. The IR-24 is essentially a manual piece of equipment, meaning there is no computer monitoring system and everything has to be tracked by hand to maintain consistent roast profiles. Constant temperature monitoring, bean evaluation, and time all have to be accounted for during the roasting process.
Adam has seen PT’s Coffee grow significantly in his time at PT’s Coffee and is now our Head Roaster. In 2011, PT’s purchased a 90-Kilo Gothot Roaster. Maintaining a consistent result on a roaster this big must be tracked and evaluated on each and every roast. Over the last five years, Adam has been an integral part of all of our 90+ scores on industry resource, Coffee Review.
Adam also plays a large role in our quality control. To maintain consistent results, he has implemented a tracking system of roast profiles that documents every single roast on each roaster. When green coffee arrives at PT’s, he is often the one to see it. Adam is also actively involved in blend development. In addition to his quality control initiatives, Adam has a personality that can light up a room!
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.
Forrest came to work for PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. with the opening of PT’s Coffee at College Hill cafe in December 2011. He had previously spent two years living in Latin America, including working as a coffee cherry picker in Guatemala, leading him to a desire to pursue the craft further.
He has competed in the 2012 Flatlander’s Barista Cup, as well as the 2012 Big Central Regional Barista Championship. During the last year, he worked as Quality Control and Lab Assistant in the Cupping Lab, as well as in our cafes.
Now, as Store Manager of PT’s at College Hill, he strives for excellence and enjoys the endless opportunities to learn more about the coffee industry here at PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.
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.
As a frequent customer of the original PT’s Coffee Shop since moving to Kansas, Mike had fallen in love with the quality and variety of coffees they had to offer and serve. At the beginning of 2009, after having a bad day, he was at the shop ordering a drink and was approached by a guy who said loudly, “This is a guy who knows what he wants!” and from there would not shut up or leave him alone. The stranger asked Mike about where he was from, where he had lived, what he did, etc. Lo and behold after talking about the coffee there at the shop and how he preferred it over any other around, the man told him he was part owner, Jeff Taylor, and about what PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. did to source the best beans and roast them to perfection. After talking a bit about the shop and coffee Mike was practically hired on the spot.
Mike started in February 2009 at the roasting facility in our office as the lead Customer Service Representative where he remained for almost three years getting to know all of our Wholesale Partners and many Retail Customers very well. As of January 2012 he had transitioned to production full time in the Warehouse, and has recently been trained on our IR 24 and has been roasting part time.
In almost 4 years from when he started, he has seen PT’s grow and change, and is glad to have been there, and where we are today, and looks forward to see where we will be in the future.
Ozzie Mendoza is an Alabama transplant that came to work at PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. with a purpose. As a college student, he spent a summer abroad in Tuscany, falling in love with Northern Italian-style espresso and the culture around it. When he returned to Alabama, he found a coffeehouse that served PT’s La Bella Vita Espresso, and fell in love with it’s quality. On a trip to Topeka, he had the opportunity to meet and talk with PT’s owner, Jeff Taylor. That conversation found a shared excitement and philosophy about coffee and travel, and he knew that PT’s was where he wanted to be.
As soon as he graduated, Ozzie moved to Topeka and quickly became a strong member of the barista team during the first year of PT’s new Third Wave-style cafe, PT’s at College Hill. He represented PT’s as a team competitor in PT’s inaugural Flatlander’s Barista Cup and volunteered hours at the 2012 Big Central Regional Barista Championship. When he wasn’t working at the cafe, he was assisting Maritza in the Quality Control lab as an assistant and second cupper. In this position, he developed his palate and immersed himself with knowledge directly from the Roasting Team.
Ozzie is currently part of the Customer Service and Sales Team and enjoys the opportunity it gives him to meet and share his knowledge with our wholesale and internet customers.
Bicycle Commuter. People Watcher. Adventure Seeker. International Traveler. Cat Lady. Problem Solver.
Bita’s true passions in life revolve around understanding why people do what they do. Bita is a Lawrence native and a Washburn University alum who earned her BBA with a focus on Marketing/Management and a minor in Sociology. In her past life, Bita worked for an advertising agency and she brings that strategic and tactical experience to PT’s as our Marketing and Media Maven.
Bita always has a smile on her face and never turns her back on a challenge. Her life motto:
“Don’t let fear interfere.”
Kimber began her journey with PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. in September of 2012 as a graphic design intern. When she came across the internship, she jumped on the opportunity to work with a successful and well-known coffee roasting company.
Kimber is from Rossville, Kansas and attended college at Emporia State University. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts, with an emphasis on Graphic Arts. Continuing her graphic design skills withing the company, Kimber currently holds the position of Head Graphic Designer and is a strong member of the Marketing Team here at PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.
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 17+ 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.
Laura Engelhardt careened into the world of coffee in a most unconventional way. She had a long established love of PT’s coffee well before she ever set foot behind the bar thanks to her sister and long-time PT’s barista, Sara Engelhardt. Although Sara has drifted out of the coffee industry, she instilled a love of high quality coffee and exceptional service in her sister Laura.
Well hooked on PT’s by the time the new shop opened in College hill, (conveniently, just a few blocks from her home) Laura stopped in often to stay caffeinated while working on an enormous mural project at WU tech – her full time job at the time. When the WU tech project was completed, Jeff Taylor put in a request for a custom mural in the front entrance of the new shop. Delighted, Laura designed a colorful room featuring John “Barista” Brown – A tribute to the Kansas origins of PT’s – sporting a PT’s apron and clutching a Chemex and portafilter instead of the regular rifle and Bible.
During the few months it took to complete the painting, Laura was at the PT’s College Hill location day-in and day-out, loitering so long that by the end of the mural, she had been offered a job as a Barista for PT’s Coffee.
After a year behind the bar at PT’s Coffee, Laura took on the added challenge of Catering Director. Bringing coffee and portable espresso wherever it needs to go, helping to spread the PT’s Coffee name and the amazing product we produce. She is also currently the Art Coordinator for PT’s at College hill, filling the walls with beautiful art to complement the delicious coffee you sip.