10 Minutes With Marty Roe

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Marty Roe
Co-owner
Service Call LLC & About The Coffee
Kansas City, Missouri

What other coffee jobs have you had?

In April of 2003, after spending 20 years with the KC Royals Baseball, I decided it was time to peek around and see what other opportunities might be out there to explore. Tooti and I had been active participants in Kansas City’s The Roasterie Coffee monthly coffee club gatherings since October 1999. During that time, Tooti had spent three years employed by the The Roasterie and I began my love affair with this industry we call coffee, learning and gaining huge respect for all that it takes to go from seed to cup. At The Roasterie, all employees are encouraged to create a “bean name.” This would be a nickname that might reflect your personality or job description. Having been born with a Cresent wrench in my hand and hired as a plant engineer charged with the responsibility of maintenance and proper operation of all roasting and packaging equipment, my bean name was “The Beangineer.”

Marty was instrumental in executing the United States Latte Art Exhibition at the SCAA show in Boston in 2013. The completion of that event led to the implementation of the first official U.S. Latte Art Championship, which will take place at the SCAA this April.

Marty was instrumental in executing the United States Latte Art Exhibition at the SCAA show in Boston in 2013. The completion of that event led to the implementation of the first official U.S. Latte Art Championship, which will take place at the SCAA this April.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

Although I absolutely love the mechanical to the scientific aspects of coffee, what really touches me deep down is the people. The coffee industry is chock full of awesome characters, from the all-business types to the artisan hipsters (I affectionately refer this eclectic group as  the “Tats to Ties”).  The opportunity to work within such a diverse collection of people each with their unique perspectives is probably the best day to day part of what we do.

Marty and his wife, Tooti, own About the Coffee in Kansas City, where they sell all kinds of products and parts to professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Marty and his wife, Tooti, own About the Coffee in Kansas City, where they sell all kinds of products and parts to professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

That’s is a tough question.  We have ideas that we are just now putting into action. Wherever it is, I am sure it will be in coffee and playing some sort of supporting role.

There's a very strong coffee community in Kansas City, and Marty and Tooti Roe are part of the reason for that, since About the Coffee is known for bringing people together.

There’s a very strong coffee community in Kansas City, and Marty and Tooti Roe are part of the reason for that, since About the Coffee is known for bringing people together.

Who and what inspires you?

The underdog, who, despite the odds, gives it their all. I also am inspired by the people in this world that are true givers. People that will put the good of the whole before their own current agenda. Last but not least, my wife, Tooti. We could not do what we do if it were not for her endless hours of hard work and dedication.

Marty and Tooti hosted Barista Nation Kansas City in the About the Coffee space in November of 2013. It was an enormous success.

Marty and Tooti hosted Barista Nation Kansas City in the About the Coffee space in November of 2013. It was an enormous success.

What are you drinking right now? 

We get coffees in our shop roasted from all over the country. But to our good fortune, right here in Kansas City area we have 17 roasters that we can proudly say produce a roast as good as anyone out there. Because I like variety in my coffee, I could sit on a cold KC morning with my hands wrapped around a cup of The Roasterie’ Pitalito Estate Colombian with it’s full body, nice back-of-the-cheek acidity with just a hint of roastiness, or a Natural Ethiopian blend from Revocup Coffee that is truly an explosion of blueberry muffins.  I guess my latest campaign is not about a single coffee as much as I have discovered that I love the combo of hearty Mexican food and hot coffee. Try it! If you meant literally right now, I have a cup of Parisi’s Sulawesi Tana Toraja. Mmmmmmm!

When he's not talking shop with his fellow coffee lovers, Marty is restoring, customizing, and fixing espresso machines via his company, .

When he’s not talking shop with his fellow coffee lovers, Marty is restoring, customizing, and fixing espresso machines via his company, Service Call LLC.

Crazy/memorable coffee experience you’d like to share?

Like I said, I am into the technical/scientific aspects of this industry. Last year in Boston during the SCAA, I was enjoying a cold one (you know, we drink coffee until it’s time to drink beer) at one of the sponsored parties, and someone introduced me to a young man that was said to be knowledgeable about techy stuff. They said he had developed a coffee brewer. I guess to show my know-it-all side, I began to tell him about an MIT graduate with ties to Apple and someone with ties to NASA, who had developed a one-cup brewer. Just before I jumped into the specs and my typical devils-advocate point of view, this young man, Jeremy Kuempel said ” Yeah, that’s me!” We went on to have a great discussion. We need to get him with one of his brewers out to About The Coffee for show and tell. (Psssst! Hint, hint, Jeremy!)

Marty strums it out with Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters owner Gregory Kolsto.

Marty strums it out with Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters owner Gregory Kolsto.

What do you do when you’re not doing coffee?

Not much time leftover in the day that is not spent doing something coffee related. I have several old hobbies that I play with from time to time—guitar, photography, metal art, motorcycles, bicycling… Oh, and I love to eat!

About the Coffee has become a neutral ground for local baristas and cafe owners to come together to share ideas and build community. One of Marty's favorite locals in reigning World Barista Champion, Pete Licata, pictured here.

About the Coffee has become a neutral ground for local baristas and cafe owners to come together to share ideas and build community. One of Marty’s favorite locals in reigning World Barista Champion, Pete Licata, pictured here.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.