Words: Stephanie Thornton, Marketing Manager, Coffee at Finlays Americas
Finlays Americas Master Coffee Roaster Jose Perez shares his story on how he set out to achieve his dream of a different future for his family.
“Coffee is not just a drink. It is an invitation to life. It brings people together to share over conversation, through laughter, tears and joy,” says Finlays Americas’ Master Coffee Roaster, Jose Perez, who has been roasting coffee for 43 years.
Beginning his journey in 1978 to what would turn into a lifelong passion, Jose roasted his first batch of coffee on a 200-pound Probat drum roaster as a protégé to a German Master Roaster in Veracruz, Mexico. Jose’s mentor taught him the key to becoming a master at his craft was owning his space, making the roasting area one he could be proud of.
“Coffee is not just a drink. It is an invitation to life”
Before roasting, Jose was taught to always have his entire area clean and free of chaff and debris, a practice Jose continues to exemplify today at Finlays. Jose says: “I like to do my job to the best of my abilities each and every day, because I know a lot of people around the world are drinking the coffee that I have roasted. I am proud of my craft and appreciate bringing the character of each bean to life.”
During his three years in Veracruz, Jose mastered the art of bringing vitality and colour to each batch of coffee. He learned life lessons of resilience, fortitude and safety while roasting during sporadic earthquakes, and established an unparalleled work ethic. In 1981, after three straight years of working without vacation, Jose took time off to visit Niagara Falls where he met his wife, which ultimately led him to moving to the United States.
In the US, Jose worked from coast to coast, until he finally found Finlays, formerly Aspen Beverage Group, in 2012. Driving through San Antonio’s industrial park, Jose smelt coffee in the air. When he found the building that was producing the aroma that was so familiar to him, he walked in and submitted his application, thus starting his nine-year tenure as Finlays’ Master Coffee Roaster.
“At Finlays, I have roasted beans from around the globe including my favourites – Yemeni and of course Veracruz, Mexican. I enjoy the global diversity and the challenging opportunities Finlays brings to my day-to-day life. I get to constantly learn while also working with some of the world’s largest coffee brands,” states Jose.
“I am proud of my craft and appreciate bringing the character of each bean to life”
Becoming a Master Roaster does not happen overnight. It takes patience, willingness to learn and adapt, and a fiery love for one’s craft such as that seen by Jose’s saying, “coffee is my blood.” Every sip of coffee begins with a perfectly crafted bean, and the master behind that perfectly crafted bean is Finlays’ very own Jose Perez.