I arrived in Chattanooga at 6:10 am on October 1st. The plan was to set up a small coffee roastery in Chattanooga. I had already placed my order and put down my first payment on my Diedrich IR-12 coffee roaster. The roaster was scheduled to be finished sometime in the spring of 2023. At that time we had a 4 family member team committed to the project, so the four of us- Arlie, Derek, Natalie, and Sue, began trying to make our dreams into a business. I had moved to Chattanooga thinking I had no connections to the community. My first weekend in Chattanooga we went to the Farmers Market at Finley field. As I was wandering around I heard my name-"Derek....Derek Delapaz" yelled out over the loud crowd. I turned and looked for who was yelling my name. I saw a 6 ft plus bearded ginger standing behind an espresso machine & It was Tyler the Head Roaster at Goodmans Coffee. I immediately recognized him but wasn't sure where from. Then he said "you taught me how to roast". It all came to me..a few years prior he took the Mill City roasting course that I taught in Minneapolis. What a small world!!! That was the sign I needed.  

But to really understand how I got here we need to go back a few years…

I had been in Minneapolis since leaving Northern California in the spring of 2006. That was a great year for me in coffee. I got my very important job as a coffee roaster (Peace Coffee) and was sent to Ethiopia the same year. Those two factors have had an immense impact on my career and life. I found a new culinary muse-coffee roasting.  Visiting and connecting with the farmers that create this amazing product we call coffee at origin. As a Chef I never had the close relationship with the producers that I always wanted. Now as a production roaster I did. That was a huge difference in those two industries for me. At Peace we held our producer relations very highly! We prioritized long term relationships with producers over most things. Those ideals aligned with my kitchen philosophies. I spent a Great 11 + years at Peace. Many great coworkers, coffee trips, co-op events, fun times, busy roast weeks, and amazing green coffee. I'll always consider myself part of the co-op coffee's family and will always be thankful for all the opportunities that came out of this time, but in life time always moves forward and things end. 

I left south Minne for NE Minne. My career move to Mill City forced me to become much more comfortable teaching and sharing my knowledge of coffee and roasting. Something that would propel me to higher levels in my coffee career. I also gained a unique insight into coffee roasting machines. Some of you all probably know of this time in my coffee career because of the Youtube videos I made. I need to give credit to my two co stars of said videos - Eliza and I had a trial by fire! We had to do videos together even though we had never roasted together or talked about roasting, & we did the best we could and became friends through the ordeal. Thank you Eliza! Then Joe came on board and the videos we made went to the next level. It was great doing videos with Joe! He did all the work, I just had to show up for filming, and make it fun. I also learned a lot from Joe. The next thing I knew I was off to Nashville for a new chapter. 

Nashville was probably the adventure of adventures for me thus far in my life. I only brought two road bikes and a bad ass motorcycle for transportation. My first day at Barista Parlor as Director of Coffee, I had nowhere to live. Nashville had a major housing shortage and Davidson county cost of living was very high!!! So I lived in Brentwood at a long stay hotel. One thing I loved was I got to go 100mph every morning on the commute into Nashville.  Barista parlor itself was also an equally overwhelming sensory experience. I worked at the Golden Sound location-or the “roasting space” as I called it. I eventually moved into my container apartment in the Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood and made a good life for myself in Nashville. I had a lot of new experiences through BP, some good, some not so good. Working in the Gulch was never boring:-) I can wholeheartedly say that I grew more as a person in Nashville than anywhere I've ever lived. 

I also met many interesting and amazing people in that time. Most were employee's of Barista Parlor or customers. I'm really proud of my time in Nashville, but I never felt like Nashville and BP were the right home for me. 

I would not be here in Chattanooga attempting to run my own coffee roastery without those experiences. Since I’d left Minneapolis, my sister had moved to Atalnta, GA, and my parents to Chattanooga, TN. Those cities appealed to me, but Chattanooga’s outdoor culture really appealed to me. So it's off to Chatt;-) Now I need to figure out how to make this new place my home but also more importantly the home of our business.

It's been a challenging few years since I left Minneapolis in the late summer of 2021. A challenge that at times seemed destined to break me and at other times to raise me to a new better version of myself. I'm glad to say as of today it is the latter. And in many more ways than I thought possible.

February 10, 2024 — Derek Delapaz