Bird Rock Coffee Roasters ownership changes hands
by BLAKE BUNCH
Published - 04/03/17 - 11:00 AM | 3572 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It has been roughly fifteen years since Chuck Patton, the founder and former owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, first opened his beacon of a kiosk near the old Albertson’s. Having expanded the business to the flagship location off La Jolla Boulevard, and another location in Little Italy, Patton recently sold the business to long-time friend and owner of PT’s Coffee, Jeff Taylor.

Based in Kansas City, PT’s was recently named No. 7 on a list of influential domestic coffee companies, so it seems that Taylor is a perfect fit to expand and take the reigns this reputable business.

While the sale recently came to fruition this past July, Taylor says that it has spent roughly eight years in the making.

“I’ve known Chuck for at least eight years,” said Taylor. “Whenever we would speak, I would subtly mention that if he were ever looking to sell, that I would love to live in San Diego. I mean … Who wouldn’t? Finally, I received I call from him last summer, saying ‘We’re ready to sell, and I think you’re the person for this.’”

Taylor, a former photojournalist with loads of energy, decided to quit his “day job” back in 1993 and open a coffee shop. As he says in jest “in Topeka, KS of all places.” This was at a time when the coffee market, typically static, was in a slump. During this time, coffee was selling for roughly 45 cents a pound, so the farmers in less-developed countries were making next to nothing.

Coffee mills, where laborers “clean” the seeds, were in poor condition and dirty. Rather than exploit cheap labor, Taylor reversed PT’s business plan to insure that the farmers were paid more for their efforts. This, in turn, allowed them time pay attention to their crop.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters has been direct-sourcing their coffee for many years, as has PT’s. Taylor cannot stress enough that this will remain a staple of their business model. Having used similar sources as former owner Patton, Taylor now will be procuring coffee for both companies.

“In regards to the transition, currently, you take stock of where you are and what you need. I visited a few coffee shops yesterday, which has been the evolution of a month-long process,” said Taylor. “We are going to remain focused on direct-sourcing quality coffee from Latin America, Africa and Sumatra. With 10 and 15 years of the practice between Chuck and myself, respectively, the relationships are there.”

Direct trade allows for Bird Rock Coffee Roasters to offer coffees that wouldn’t otherwise be available in San Diego. Initially, Taylor was brainstorming a way to assimilate his two businesses, but, after being advised to “keep them different,” that is the approach he is taking.
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