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The story of the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company began thirty years ago under the same set of circumstances that have sculpted epic tales throughout history: a protagonist, driven by passion, experiences an event which spurs a journey filled with risk. In this case, the protagonist was a student in Santa Cruz and the catalyst for undertaking the journey was a love of coffee and an assigned econometric study on the coffee industry.

An economics major and lifelong coffee lover, Colleen Crosby conducted a study on the coffee market in her senior year at UC Santa Cruz. Inspiration struck, and she chose to take a leave of absence in order to start the first coffee roasting company in Santa Cruz. (Two decades later, Colleen returned to the university to complete her studies, which is why we use the term “leave of absence” as opposed to “dropped out.”) Along with Bronson Baker (her then fiancé and soon to be husband) and their friends (in particular Jim Legg, our current Chief Technician and resident equipment genius), the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company was built and up and roasting at the “Top of the Mall” on Pacific Avenue on April 1st, 1978. Colleen rose before dawn to roast the day’s coffee, opened and managed the shop during the day, and made wholesale deliveries at night, leaving at least six hours a night for paperwork, accounting, and the occasional nap.

Bronson and Colleen dedicated all of their time and energy to managing their small coffee shop located in downtown Santa Cruz. Within the first year of their business, Bronson and Colleen innovated the BrewBar, a device designed to provide customers with the ultimate individually-dripped gourmet coffee experience. The BrewBar™ was a hit, and coffee lovers were soon lining up out the door and on to Pacific Avenue for the best cup of coffee money could buy. Within several years, there was a greater demand for the fresh roasted BrewBar™ coffee than their store could accommodate. In 1984, an extension of the Santa Cruz Roasting Company named The Brewbar opened a few blocks away, followed by the Aptos Coffee Roasting Company in 1986.

In 1989, the original Coffee Roasting location was destroyed in the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake. Bronson and Colleen continued to satisfy the Santa Cruz coffee lovers’ demand by roasting out of their garage. Although this was a cozy arrangement, it wasn’t the most practical solution for the long term. Several years later, a beautiful, spacious cafe was opened at 1330 Pacific Avenue, in the historic Palomar Inn. At the same time, the wholesale/production department was moved to a location in Watsonville, where roasting, packaging, and shipping are currently handled. The warehouse is also large enough to accommodate Jim & Brett’s equipment repair and bike modification workshop, as well as the occasional barbecue._(continued on next page)

Bronson, Colleen, and their inventory
__Bronson, Colleen and their inventory, 1978
The Original Coffee Roasting Company
The original Roasting Company, 1978
Future general manager Sarah Crosby-Baker poses in front of the original Roasting Company
VIEW NEXT PAGE Future General Manager Sarah Crosby-Baker poses in front of the original Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company,
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