“There is no shortage of coffee. Speculators are bidding up the price of coffee without any intention of taking delivery,” CEO Paul Odom of Fonté Micro Coffee Roaster said. Unlike the rumored coffee shortage, Fonté will not follow the current trend of increasing their cost. Instead, it will maintain its mission of customer satisfaction by distinguishing itself as a real niche by catering to worldwide businesses and the hospitality industry opposed to the average consumer.
Beyond appealing to the hospitality industry amongst other businesses and not sticking with the trends of the industry, what separates Fonté from others in the industry is its track record of bringing customers the freshest coffee with a commitment of shipping all products within 24 hours of roasting. To top off the freshness of its coffee, the unique packaging keeps the roasts fresh and sumptuous. This furthers the ideology of Fonté with a dedication to giving the customer the best possible product with special consideration to attention to detail.
Furthermore, unlike the plethora of current coffee makers, Fonté has elected to roast coffee the traditional, artisan way opposed to modern digital technologies. It is because of this artisanal process that personnel needs to be well trained with the ability to perform thorough cupping to ensure quality control of each individual lot. In doing this, the coffee has a worldly, unique taste to it.
Additionally, what Fonté has been able to establish is the depth of selection with special selection coffees that are worldly from Brasil Mariano Peaberry, to Kenya Kangocho AA, to El Savador Miravalle Cup of Excellence along with several others. Other products included on its line are single origin coffees, decaffeinated coffees, 10 coffee blends, espresso pods and even tea and specialty coffee machines.
Fonté was started in 1992 by Paul Odom. After flirting with the beer and soda pop industries, he wanted to do something different. “Coffee was a new thing in Seattle in the late 80s. What was nice is you could use creativity and fill a void in the industry,” Odom said. In time, Fonté did exactly what Odom wanted by creating a different kind of coffee company, which in turn made it a trend setter in the industry with the will to not follow rules or increasing cost that became the industry norm.
It was during its early years that Odom aligned himself with Steve Smith, an industry veteran and former Starbucks employee. During his time there, Smith learned his craft with over 12 years in the company by distinguishing himself as the first and only roaster to earn the title of Master Roaster. This meant he oversaw the entire roasting process. However, in 1992 he quit Starbucks for other pursuits — mainly with the desire to explore his own creative desire of roasting with his own unique, artisanal style.
With Fonté just beginning, Smith was immediately interested, because he was intrigued in serving the hospitality industry and he could push forward his creative juices by stepping away from the corporate world. Ever since, Smith and Odom have brought the company to new heights from a startup with only a handful of employees to 45 currently.
However, when it comes to Fonté’s personnel, there is a mandate to make sure employees are the best of the best according to Odom. “The level of expertise in our company is different. We have a coffee department run by somebody who had to be on the master roaster, and to hire someone we put them on a very specific program,” he said.
This is the philosophy of Fonté. Its principle goal simply put is to make the best tasting product out there. “We want it to taste as best in the can after it’s been out of the roaster for weeks,” Odom said. With this dedication, it is no surprise that Fonté has been able to grow its brand exponentially over the last 20 years, not just in terms of personnel, but in terms of their clients. Through the years, the company has worked with significant global leaders including the Wynn Las Vegas, Four Seasons, St. Regis Peninsula and others.
Crush, a famous restaurant in local Seattle is another client of Fonté and as head chef Jason Wilson, 2006’s Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef says “I take pride in serving the very best to my guests. Fonté’s commitment to excellence is second to none and gives me a confidence that I want from all aspects of the dining experience.”
Fonté Coffee Roasters is well suited for a future in making itself commercially viable as a worldwide independent brand of coffee. “We will have no supply problems nor will there be sales problems,” Odom said. This dedication of not increasing cost exemplifies the determination, will and follow through of Fonté Micro Coffee Roaster by continuing their success for another 20 years as a trendsetter in the industry.
By Simon Mounsey