Director of Education
Joe brings insatiable curiosity, a passion for community, and a lifelong devotion to science to his roasting instruction.
He first discovered his muse as a barista at Grace Café in Cape Girardeau, MO. Coffee gave Joe the perfect opportunity to blend his interests in science, horticulture (he spent his 21st birthday on Nicaraguan coffee farms), and art into a life’s work.
Joe then moved to Saint Louis to work as a full-time roaster for Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company. Working with this family-owned company was truly like going to coffee college. While there he packaged, flavored, delivered, roasted, brewed, sample roasted, and cupped, gaining deep experience in all sides of the business. He then transitioned from the roasting side to the training side, ultimately becoming the company’s training lead.
As his knowledge and expertise grew, Joe moved ever deeper into the industry. His initiation into the Barista Guild of America and Barista Competitions stirred his interest in green coffee and nudged him to a passionate exploration of coffee at the farm level.
Joe’s coffee credentials include:
- BGA Chapter Representative, 2009-2010
- Roasters Guild Executive Council, 2013-present
- Level 2 SCAA Barista Certificate
- Level 1 Roasters Certificate
- SCAA Specialized Instructor
- SCAA Subject Matter Expert in multiple areas
- Published author in numerous coffee-related periodicals
- Course instructor for multiple SCAA Certificate tracks
- South Central Regional Barista Champion, 2010-2011 season
- Barista Championship judge
- Instructor at Coffee Fest trade shows
- Head judge for The Roasters Choice competition
- Member of the SCAA Nominating Committee
- SCAA Special Recognition Award, 2015
Joe feels incredibly fortunate to have a successful career from what began as a curiosity. He now spends his days talking with roasters about green coffee, roasting theory, taste, evaluation, and how to move the industry forward.
He teaches courses all over the country, spending time on various machines with literally hundreds of different coffees every year, listening as other coffee professionals share their thoughts, and sharing his growing body of knowledge and experience with others.
Director of Roasting
Derek credits his success and mastery of the culinary arts to his formative years in his grandmother’s kitchen preparing daily meals for their large family.
Entry-level food service positions at the local bakery and KFC paved the way for a full-time position under French Master Chef Patrice Boely, propelling Derek to professional training at a culinary school in Napa Valley. After graduation, Derek spent a decade in Northern California working his way up to Executive Chef.
During a brief hiatus, Derek took a break from restaurants to work at Starbucks, quickly becoming a Starbucks “Coffee Master.”
Returning home to the Twin Cities, Derek’s growing interest in coffee led to a production roasting position at Peace Coffee. Peace’s rapid expansion led to a quick promotion to Peace’s newly created Quality Control department as R&D manager. Derek trained with Mane Alves of Coffee Labs International (CLI) and was certified as SCAA Green Coffee Cupping Judge, the earliest form of Q certification.
Over the years, Derek returned to CLI for their rigorous 5-day roasting class, attended 9 annual Roasters Guild retreat events and 2 SCAA events, made coffee sourcing trips to Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Brazil, and earned a certification as an SCAA Certified Lead Instructor. Derek has been a Station Instructor at several SCAA and Roasters Guild events. Further notable coffee career highlights include a third-place showing in his first US Roaster Championship competition and providing cupping quality training in Sumatra over two growing seasons for a Dutch NGO.
During Derek’s 11 years with Peace Coffee, daily roasted volume increased from 500 lb. to over 3000 lb. per day. Derek’s responsibilities included maintaining 20-plus roast profiles a year, maintaining 15-plus blends, roasting and managing 15 different origins, creating 4 new seasonal blends every year, creating a minimum of 4 single-origin special releases every year, managing 2 full-time roasters, and cleaning and maintaining their Diedrich CR-70, Primo PR-50, and Renegade 1 LB Roaster.
Derek describes Mill City Roasters as drawing on all of Derek’s passion for quality and culinary arts and coffee knowledge to help guide students to commercial success as quickly as possible.
Building on over 12 years of experience in the coffee industry, Lauren bridges the gap from Roaster to Retailer.
Lauren’s coffee career began as a barista at her college cafe, where she developed a love for the hustle of a morning rush and the strong community connections that are built over cups of coffee. After graduating, she relocated to Portland and joined the team at a coffee shop downtown, which was on the brink of a major remodel and rebranding.
When it opened as Public Domain in 2010, the shop became the specialty storefront and 3rd wave showroom for local large roaster Coffee Bean International. As a member of the crew at Public Domain, Lauren was trained on sample roasting, roast profiling, blend building, and participated in daily cuppings. As her skills grew, so did her passion for the specialty coffee industry. After supporting her coworkers at regional competitions, Lauren competed at the Northwest Barista Competitions in 2011 and 2012.
After competing with an incredible pacamara coffee grown by the Menedez family from El Salvador, the producer invited her to visit their farm and see the farms her espresso came from. While in El Salvador, she had the opportunity to train a team of baristas with the help of a Spanish-speaking translator, igniting a spark for coffee education that would continue to today.
Back in Portland, Lauren began building a new training program at Public Domain, eventually taking over as the Lead Trainer and Assistant Manager, and preparing other baristas for competition. She served as a Judge for the US Barista Championship that same year, building her sensory and evaluation skills and bringing that keen eye and palate back to the cafe.
Lauren then moved to the well-established specialty roaster Portland Roasting Coffee, joining their training team as a Coffee Educator. Over the next 3 ½ years at Portland Roasting, Lauren would help expand their Retail Training program and assist as they built their cafe presence in the city from 1 to 5 cafes, training and supporting over 160 baristas during her time there. She also helped certify their SCA Training Campus, traveled across the country and internationally to represent the company at competitions and trade shows, and facilitated hundreds of wholesale coffee trainings.
Lauren’s credentials include:
- Authorized SCA Trainer
- Level 2 Barista Guild Certificate
- World Barista Competition Sensory Judge
- World Brewers Cup Judge
- United States Barista Competition Head Judge
- US Barista Competitions Committee Vice Chair
- US Coffee Champs Committee Member
- Member of the Pacific Barista Series Specialty Coffee Advisory Board
- 2012 Barista Competition Finalist
Lauren is excited to bring her knowledge of extraction, barista skills, cafe efficiency, and customer service to the team here at Mill City. As a life-long learner, she approaches all of her hobbies as opportunities to apply abstract theories and achieve tangible results.