Meet the PT's Team
Co-Founder, CEO + Director of Coffee Operations
Prior to co-founding PT's in 1993, Jeff was an award-winning photojournalist for several newspapers and wire services, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, USA Today, ESPN The Magazine, Associated Press, and REUTERS.
Jeff earned a number of awards from the AP, Inland Press Association, and the National Press Photographers Association, including Region 9 Photographer of the Year in 1990, before retiring from photojournalism in 2004 to pursue his coffee passion full-time.
Jeff worked with many others to develop what eventually became the United States Barista Competition (USBC), 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 USBC, Jeff traveled around the world judging the USBC, Mexican National Barista Competition and the World Barista Competition. After several years of voluntary service, he returned to focus on developing PT's Direct Trade program. He also served a term on the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Board of Directors.
While serving on the SCAA board, Jeff made the transition to Coffee Buyer for PT's and began the process of building relationships with producers around the world. To this day, Jeff travels to meet with our coffee-producing partners in Central and 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.
Co-Founder, Start-up Specialist + Equipment Consultant
Fred was born in Hoisington, Kansas and graduated from Emporia High School. He attended both Emporia State University and Washburn University in Topeka, majoring in Communications and Political Science.
Fred and Jeff decided to open their first coffeehouse in 1993. Prior to doing so, Fred had managed a number of fast food restaurants, including Burger King and Schlotzsky's, giving the partnership the retail experience it needed to succeed.
As the small coffee house business began to take off, Fred left his full-time job with Schlotzsky's to pursue this new venture. PT's began roasting its own coffee for restaurants and coffeehouses throughout northeast Kansas. Soon, the business expanded.
In 1999, Fred led the charge to form PT's Coffee, a wholesale company and supplier of micro-roasted coffee in the Midwest. Now there are three retail locations and well over 200 wholesale accounts across the country.
Director of Quality Control
Maritza 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, serving for five years.
In 2003, she accepted a position with Neumann Coffee Group in Bogota to work in Quality Assurance for Specialty Coffee. Neumann Coffee Group has 46 companies offering green coffee services in 28 countries around the world.
Maritza was one of Colombia's first four coffee professionals certified by the Quality Coffee Institute as a Q-Grader. Shortly thereafter, she became one of seven Certified Instructors of the Q-Grader Program in Colombia.
Maritza is now the Director of Quality Control for PT's Coffee Roasting Co. and our sister company, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. She continually builds relationships with producers and works to ensure that all of our Direct Trade partners are meeting, or surpassing, our quality standards.
Director of Operations + Sustainability
Brent has been with PT's since 2011 but is by no means new to the company. He and his wife formerly managed one of PT's longest-standing wholesale clients. Brent brings more than ten years of management experience to his position as Director of Operations and Sustainability. Brent oversees coordination of our wholesale operations and financial management while working directly with our Production and Sales teams, our Customer Service, Design, and Marketing staff, and our Directors of Coffee and Quality Control.
Brent brings unique expertise to our Sustainability and Direct Trade missions. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography and has taught more than a dozen 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 support sustainable practices at origin and to broaden our educational capacity, both domestically and abroad. His knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, climate and soil analysis, and biogeography provide us with an opportunity to embolden our working relationships with Direct Trade partners. 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 byproducts.
Mike was a frequent customer of our retail shop until February 2009, when he was hired at our roasting facility as lead Customer Service Representative. In that position he got to know 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. Mike roasts on a 5kg IR-Diedrich, 24kg IR-Diedrich, and 90kg Gothot. He is also part of our Coffee Development & Cupping Quality Control team.
Mike has been a Roasters Guild and SCAA member since 2014 and is currently finishing up his Roaster’s Certificate.
In the years since 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 seeing 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 worked as a cashier, caretaker, and transcriptionist. When a packaging job at PT's introduced her to the wonderful world of specialty coffee, she knew she had found her calling. Lara is Production Roaster and part of the Quality Control Team in the PT’s roasting facility. Cool, calm, and collected, Lara is a real gem and we’re glad to have her as part of the team. Outside of work, Lara enjoys quality time with friends and family, cats, crafts and baking.
Production + Assistant Roaster
Born in Georgia, Matthew moved up and down the east coast for most of his formative years. Never one to rest on his laurels, he has had a long and storied work life starting at the age of fourteen when he worked for Einstein College of Medicine as a summer technician in a virology lab. Ever since, Matt has had a nomadic work history from convenience store clerk to managing the kitchen of a Mellow Mushroom to custom picture framing.
After moving to Topeka, Kansas from Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June of 2016, Matthew started working in the production department at PT's. A few months of bagging and boxing coffee made it clear he had found the work family for him. Matt's love of coffee made it clear that when given the chance to learn to roast the magical bean there could be only one answer: an emphatic yes.
Rachel started her coffee career in 2015, working in production bagging and boxing coffee for our retail and wholesale customers. She loves helping out in any way she can. In her spare time, she loves being outdoors, riding bikes, and eating food.
Content Marketing + Graphic Design
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 and production design as a member of PT’s marketing team. She is proud to play a role in PT’s growth as we continue to bring people the world’s best coffees.
In her free time, Autumn enjoys traveling, hiking, and watching movies. In 2014, she spent six weeks camping and working trail maintenance in Thorsmork (Þórsmörk), Iceland and conquered the Laugavegurinn. She recently bought her first house and spends her free time fixing it up or relaxing with friends over drinks.
eCommerce + Marketing
Will joined PT’s in late 2017, just before the company launched its new branding and celebrated its 25th anniversary. He handles various web design, copywriting, and marketing roles. You’ll also often find him in the cupping lab with the roasting team.
Will’s introduction to the coffee world was a two-year stint as a barista for a family-owned cafe and roaster just north of New York City. Four years in book publishing followed, until Will and his wife opted for a change of pace in Lawrence, Kansas. Outside of work, he's usually reading a book, cooking, or frequenting Lawrence’s fine bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and bars.