Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2017

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 106 of 115

Colby Barr LEVELING UP ON QUALITY COFFEE By Kenneth R. Olson MASTER COFOUNDER of the iconic Santa Cruz, Calif.– based coffee institution known as Verve Coffee Roasters, Colby Barr smiles quickly, laughs easily, and talks about coffee whenever he can. In fact, you won't fi nd him at home brewing a cup of any- thing, since he'd rather get out and grab a coffee at one of Verve's cafés. "I only make coffee for myself when I'm on the road," he says. "I actually have no way to brew coffee at my house, which was a decision early on to make sure that I go to our cafés every day. It really works!" Colby was raised on a working farm in Northern California, an experience that has infl uenced much of his business philosophy, and gave him intimate insight about the importance of establishing good relationships with farmers. "Growing up on a farm is much like being a business owner," he says. "As someone once told me, 'It's a lifestyle.' There is no clock-in/clock-out. It is who you are and what you do, at all times." He went to college in Northern California, too. In fact, Colby's spent pretty much his whole life in the Golden State. He fi nished college with a degree in environmental geography, and worked with the Department of Homeland Security responding to natural disasters after graduation. "We primarily worked huge forest fi res, but also hurricanes," he says. "I was on call for like, fi ve years, but it was always on my mind to leave and start my own busi- ness. I guess I've always been compulsively drawn to the path less traveled in that way. Even when I was a kid, when others wanted to be a race-car driver, I wanted to be an explorer." A huge part of Colby's life has been music— that's actually how he met Ryan O'Donovan, Verve's other cofounder, in college. "We were both these guys who had to 'keep it real' and lug heavy, vintage keyboards all around town—Fend- 107

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