Barista Magazine

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 100 of 107

101 Tom Owen WRITING THE BOOK—ER, BLOG—ON GREEN COFFEE FOR HOME ROASTING By Kenneth R. Olson MASTER TOM OWEN IS QUICK WITH A JOKE, but those who know him best characterize him as humble and prone to defl ect compliments. One thing's for sure: At every turn, he's more than willing to give the bulk of the credit for the growth and success of Sweet Maria's—the San Francisco Bay Area–based world-renowned supplier of green coffee and home-roasting machines—to his wife and partner, Maria Troy. With his early intuitive grasp of the needs of home roasters, his longevity in the industry, and his reputation as one of the most pro- lifi c chroniclers of origin experience and green-cof- fee knowledge in the entire coffee industry, he has earned the distinction of being an icon internation- ally in specialty coffee. Born in the mid-'60s, Tom grew up in the Cali- fornia seaside town of La Jolla. "It was a beautiful place, a beach town," he says, "pretty fancy really, and defi ned by a lot of conspicuous consumption." His own family, however, was at the other end of the income spectrum. "My mom took night classes to learn to keep the VW running, and I remember hand-stitching the holes in my socks," he says. As an escape from four older sisters, Tom found solace in his pet rat, and, since it was Southern California, surfi ng. "I would carry this incredi- bly heavy longboard on my three-speed bicycle through a network of alleys to try to avoid the main streets. It was super hard when there was wind. Plus an old longboard was not cool at all at the time," he says. "I still have that board, which was my dad's, and there're dings in the bottom where kids would throw rocks at me for having such a crappy old board." We recently had a chance to talk to Tom via email while he was in Uganda on a sourcing trip. He thanks Maria for editing assistance.

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