Rich Abker
  • Male
  • Seattle-Washington, Coffee-Boom-1985
  • United States
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Profile Information

What is your position in the coffee industry?
manager, barista trainer, coffee roaster, coffee enthusiast, industry professional, consultant, supplier
Where are you located? ( City and Country )
How many years have you been in the industry?
Over 20 years of experience training, selling, and service in the Specialty Coffee Industry.
If you are a barista or shop, are you interested in a barista exchange with another coffee shop/barista?
Tell us more about your coffee shop or barista skills.
It all began for me back in 1991 with coffee and espresso training
courses from Mauro Cipolla, Italian style. Mauro is an internationally
acknowledged expert on coffee buying, roasting, blending, and extraction.
He first became interested in the art of roasting and blending when he
was growing up in Italy. He continued to hone his craft in the USA while working as an apprentice during his college years, working for an Italian roaster in Canada, in the early 1980's.

In 1985 Mauro and his family, founded Caffe' D'arte in Seattle Washington. Here they celebrated their vision of bringing a taste of Italy to the United States, in particular to Seattle, in the form of Italian style espresso.

I am fortunate to have had Mauro as my mentor in all aspects of coffee,
during my very early years in the coffee business. I learned a lot by working side by side with Mauro, and his charming family. They loved food, coffee, and family.

Gourmet Retailer Magazine featured Mauro, along with twenty four other
individuals from the United States, as coffee figure heads who contributed greatly to shaping small batch coffee roasting, as we know it today.

During the 1980's in Seattle, Caffe' D'arte and a handfull of other popular roasters began offering free classes on coffee and espresso, once or twice a week. These classes were free and open to the public. They set the bar for coffee education by sharing directly with the consumers of coffee.

Roasters began standardizing espresso beverage terminology, drink names, cup sizes, methods for evaluating quality, and of course adding latte' art.

The "espresso boom" began in Seattle area during the early 1980's, it
boomed from 1985-1995. People from all over the world flocked to Seattle. They came to learn the art of perfecting quality espresso.

During this period, a number of coffee people pioneered the way.
Three individuals from the Northwest were chosen by Gourmet Retailer Magazine and featured in a full page article for their achievements.
Those individuals were: Mauro Cipolla from Caffe' D'arte Coffee, Bruce Milletto from Bellissimo, and Howard Schultz from Starbucks Coffee.

In February 2005, I graduated in a group from Bellissimo ABC School in Portland, with a Coffee Business & Barista Degree 8-). It was a fun education! I learned about ways to help others to be successful in the coffee business. My class leaders were Matt Milletto, Bruce Milletto, and Ed Arvidson. I Enjoyed meeting and mixing with the other class members from across the United States. It was a great learning atmosphere.
This class led by qualified instructors who loved their jobs.
What cities or countries are you interested in traveling to?
Casablanca, Morocco
Paris, France
Palermo, Sicily
Lima, Peru
Maui, Hawaii
Java or Sumatra, Indionesia
About Me:
As a student of coffee, I have studied the product intensely, from plant to
cup since 1991. I continue to learn about coffee botany, growing methods, harvesting techniques, buying habits, coffee species, single origin, regions, roasting and blending, packaging, coffee preparation methods,espresso extraction, espresso mixology, milk properties, milk stretching, foam texturing and signature drink recipes. I always enjoy learning from others and sharing my experiences.

I am humbled by the fact that the more I learn about coffee, I discover there is much more to learn, and much still unexplained.
No doubt there are other coffee students out there, like myself, who agree that even in our life time, we can never learn everything about this wonderful beverage. Not even William Ukers or Dr. Ernesto Illy understood it all. Coffee still has wonderful secrets to discover. The real fun and satisfaction is in the learning journey, and this coffee student yearns for the next journey.

**Coffee wakes the body, lifts the mind, and befriends the spirit.

**One double macchiato breve to GULP!

**For me, the art of espresso beverage-presentation counts, only if the quality of taste pleases my taste buds.

**Did you know that the American Coffee Revolution began in 1773, during the British tea
tax rebellion. Well planned protests by patriots from emerging coffee houses,
and culminating at the famous Boston Harbor Tea Party.

The history of coffee reveals the future, as the past is repeated.

Once I submitted a specialty drink recipe under the Penn name of Randy Maine, and won first place in a summer drink contest :-)~ An iced licorice mocha was the winner which I named a Mocha Mist!
I gave the drink instant appeal by garnishing with whipped cream, a refrigerated licorice stick, ends clipped, and used as a thick solid color straw.

** I co-wrote and edited the original book Espresso Seattle Style, authored by Phillip Janssen. (Eventually reprinted under the title Espresso Quick Reference Guide) It is a soft bound book about espresso techniques, coffee trivia, espresso beverage recipes and coffee history. Currently it is in dire need of updating the techniques and coffee information. Phil & I had a great deal of fun preparing and writing it.

**I have had much enjoyment collecting some of oldest books on coffee,
some being very rare. I am looking to add to my collection. Do you know
anyone who is willing to sell or trade?
If so....Email me ( or call me 425-269-3672

I love learning the future by studying the past. I enjoy exploring the minds of the early coffee savants, writers, researchers, and growers.

Here are a few examples of my much enjoyable book Collection:
Coffee: Its History, Cultivation, And Uses- by Robert Hewitt jr. 1872.

Coffee From Plantation To Cup- by Francis Thurber, Third Edition 1883.

Coffee-A Monograph of the Economie Species of the Genus Coffea-One-
by Ralph Holt Cheney, 1925.

The Saga Of Coffee- by Heinrich Eduard Jacob, 1935, first English printing.

Coffee, The Epic of a Commodity- by Heinrich Jacob, translated to
english, 1935.

A Story of King Coffee- by Costa Neves in 1942. (Brasil)

The Penny Universities by- Aytoun Ellis, 1956

Dictionary of Gastronomy- by Simon and Howe, 1970.

I own and enjoy many other espresso books, postcards, videos,
coffee paraphernalia, and informational pamphlets discussing best
brewing and extraction methods.

Coffee lovers, please consider:
We cannot take all the credit for coffee as we know it today.

What we know today has come from many years of coffee evolution. Hopefully we will remember the early pioneers who helped advanced our cause.
Where are we at in the coffee evolution of quality in the cup? Picture a large clock on the wall in your mind. Now consider the numeral 12(noon) as being the optimum quality. Think of the number 6(twelve thirty) as the worst quality. Where do you think we are over all as an industry?

Past history says coffee quality moves in cycles around the
clock, clockwise of course 8-). Noon being when coffee is at the point of optimum quality.
Since I entered the 1985, I believe I witnessed
the clock move from twenty to 12 noon to ten past 12.

You may find this hard to believe but I feel that presently
we are in a decline of true quality coffee. We have begun to
let the dollar get in the way of what we began as a quality

Yes, in my opinion, we are in the middle of a coffee-education
revolution, but we are also allowing faux information to
mingle with the truth.

So, what is the truth? Is it what you have been taught? Is it
based on empirical coffee facts or on what some one told you,
that knows a little more than you do?

Who among us is willing to test every theory in coffee
roasting, espresso extraction, texturing milk, or even
what pleases our customers?
About My Company:
Caffe' D'arte Coffee, a Seattle based specialty coffee roaster
provided me an opportunity to work in an exciting industry,
Coffee, the world's most popular social beverage.

Caffe' D'arte is a Traditional Italian Style Roaster founded
in 1985 in Seattle, by Mauro Cipolla and his family. They
migrated from Italy to build a better life in the United States.

Translated into english, Caffe' D'Arte means "The Art of Coffee". Roasting is surely a culinary art!

Mauro, our founder, was my boss and early mentor,was charismatic
and so passionate and knowledgeable about coffee, that when I
first met him, I listened to every word as gospel. Mauro used
demonstrations frequently to prove his points.
At his recommendation,
we were all encouraged to learn from other
coffee experts and compare notes. He used to say, Be a sponge!

Joe Mancuso, brother-in-law of Mauro Cipolla, is the General
Manager of operations. He and our two local owners Jeff and
Mark, lead Caffe' D'arte into the futue and a new direction.
All of our coffees are certified Kosher.
We have added organic, fair trade, and we have refined our
Alderwood Wood Roast to our bold, full bodied Italian style
coffee blends.

I am grateful for having the opportunity to represent such complex, flavorful, aromatic coffees. In general, the Caffe' Darte coffee profile is intense in flavor, and carrys a hint of cocoa, recognized during the swallow, at the back of one's throat.

Each of our blends has a pleasant, natural coffee aroma.
However each is unique in flavor due in part to the individual
varietals that comprise each blend recipe. Of course the degree of roast, and the marrying process contribute greatly to the consistency of each taste profile.

I am proud of my contribution in sales for Caffe' D'arte to
the local coffee market in the Seattle metro area.

I get satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment by performing
my work in my territory each day with an urgency, as if it
were my own company. I feel responsible for the succes or
failure of my assigned territory.
What is your favorite thing about the coffee industry?
Meeting other people in the industry who have developed a passion for coffee, its history and its tradition.

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Comment Wall (61 comments)

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At 6:06pm on July 4, 2009, Garrett said…
Thanks for taking the time and getting back with me and giving me those suggestions. I think those reads will keep me busy for awhile. If I'm ever in Seattle sometime, I'll be sure to stop by.

At 9:28pm on June 29, 2009, Garrett said…
Hey Rich,
I see you have read many coffee books in your time. What would you say were some of the most informational as far as basic coffee knowledge and would be most useful for someone just getting into the industry? Any other suggestions? THANKS!
At 9:09am on June 23, 2009, Sarah Dooley said…
you are such a brat! I totally miss the trespassing part...sometimes you just got to get it done:). Any ways, sorry for the delayed response, I really should check this more often. Have a good day and happy belated daddy's day- yours, Sarah
At 10:46am on May 13, 2009, Kevin K. Leffler said…
Hello Rich!

My name is Kevin Leffler and I am with Finest LED Signs! I am an Independent supplier up here as well and would love to network with your people to provide Marketing solutions for the their Barista's & Coffee House's

Here is our web site or

Take care Rich and looking forward to hearing from you!
At 7:22am on March 28, 2009, Bart A Rogers said…
Thanks Rich, I use a vibiamme Domo Bar now
At 11:49pm on March 18, 2009, Settie Safa said…
Hi Rich,
I will be at Javart tomorrow at 10:00 meeting with a client. I have an appointment in Bellevue at 11:00 am and a meeting at home at 2:00 pm. I cam meet with you on Friday. Let em know. Thanks
At 11:49pm on March 15, 2009, Settie Safa said…
Hi Rich, I will be happy to show you the cart and my operation. Would you call me on my cell 425-269-4326 to be sure I am at the store. I am moving between home and work.
Look forward to meeting you.
At 12:11am on March 11, 2009, Sarah Dooley said…
too much coffee this past week, still can't sleep..How are you rich?
At 6:47pm on March 4, 2009, Stewart Hime said…
Hi Rich,
I and my family once lived in Seattle, actually Mercer Island befor the Starbuck
became the public. We really enjoyed Seattle especially Apr. - Oct., you know. I do not know, you have a interest or not, Have you ever heard a Eco-Friendly Coffee Filter? Bcz I'm currently trying to promote this product in USA and Canada since I have received an exclusive sales licence recently.
This is made in Denmark, called MillCaffe, made of the easy degradeable material polypropylene whichis same material used for a nursing bottle.
A single MilleCaffe filter can be used for more than 1000 pots of coffee.
This filter good for any V shaped dripper include coffee machine.
Currently used at EU, and Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Sells 700 (around $7.50) Japanese yen at shops.
Is this product attract people in Seattle ?
What do you think?
At 11:13pm on February 19, 2009, eve said…
It's a frangipani; my favourite!

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