Joe Marrocco has been a member of the Café Imports team since October of 2011, now working as a Senior Sales Associate and the Director of Education.
Joe hails from the Midwest state of Missouri, where he grew up playing baseball, fishing, hunting, camping, and doing all of the other idyllic Midwestern boyhood activities you are probably conjuring. Yet, Joe was also a bit different. Gifted with an insatiable curiosity, a mom who was a nurse and a dad who worked in maintenance at a hospital, he was able to get his hands on a high powered microscope and plenty of micro-biology text books from the old nursing school days. Kicking around the woods led to discoveries and research. Everything was observed. Micro-organisms were categorized. Every cell structure he could think of was studied.
By the time Joe was fourteen years old he had read the family’s World Book Encyclopedia set from A through Z. His interests led him to taking every bio-based class he could when in high school. Much to his delight, the schoolroom was a great venue for sharing the research and development he did in his spare time. His teachers noted his passion and competence, and made sure not to let pesky requirements such as homework and tests get in the way of his work; they instead fostered his inquisitive nature and allowed him to use the classroom to go far beyond the bounds of the curriculum, even going so far as to grant him the opportunity to assist in teaching courses. His exhaustive bug collection is still hanging in the school last he checked.
Parallel to an interest in the sciences, Joe grew up singing on stage. Highly involved in his church, he was leading music, singing in various choirs and ensembles, and soloing regularly. When college finally came around, and a full ride scholarship for vocal performance was offered, a career in science became a less likely future (plus, girls like rock stars more than Petri dish oglers, it seemed.) Joe took the scholarship and ended up being the leader in all of the musical groups he was in, finishing college with the acceptance of the highest musical achievement award offered.
Then, adulthood happened.
Married at twenty two to the gorgeous and whip-smart Monica (then Meyer).
Isabella was born two years later.
Liam was born four years after that.
During the family growth stage, a few things became apparent: music does not pay well, working in churches is not truly a way to make the world a better place (for Joe, anyway) and certainly does not satiate the scientific curiosity, and there has got to be some way for Joe to connect to something that fits and matters.
Starting as a barista at Grace Café in Cape Girardeau, MO while attending Southeast Missouri State University pursuing a far more practical degree in philosophy, Joe discovered a new passion. He had already been to coffee farms in Nicaragua 4 years earlier (2001, and actually celebrated his 21st birthday there). Being inspired by the horticultural side of coffee, the philanthropic side of coffee seemed a far more reasonable avenue in which to change the world than singing in churches.
Joe was hooked.
Three years later Joe moved to Saint Louis to work as a full-time roaster for Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company. Working with this family owned company was truly like going to coffee college. While there he packaged, flavored, delivered, roasted, brewed, sample roasted, cupped, etc… He was able to see many sides of the business. He moved from the roasting side to the training side, which he ultimately led during the last portion of his time there.
As his knowledge, training, and expertise grew, Joe searched for wider aspects of the industry that would allow him to dig deeper. His initiation into the Barista Guild of America and Barista Competitions served as a catalyst for propelling him towards higher learning, stirring his strong pull towards green coffee and nudging him into a passionate exploration of how he might become more involved in coffee at the farm level. It’s been full steam ahead ever since.
Some of Joe’s coffee credentials are:
- BGA Chapter Rep 2009-2010
- Roasters Guild Executive Council 2013-present
- Level 2 SCAA Barista Certificate
- Level 1 Roasters Certificate
- SCAA Specialized Instructor
- SCAA Subject Matter Expert in multiple areas
- Published in multiple coffee related periodicals
- Instructor of courses in multiple SCAA Certificate tracks
- 2010-2011 season Regional Barista Champion (South Central)
- Barista Championship Judge
- Instructor at Coffee Fest tradeshows
- Head Judge for The Roasters Choice competition
- Member of the SCAA Nominating Committee
- 2015 recipient of the SCAA Special Recognition Award
Joe now lives in Saint Paul, MN with that beautiful family he and his wife started nearly 13 years ago. His greatest joys come during time spent with them. Joe is still very much into the outdoors, only now he has some much younger fishing buddies learning the ropes from him. Following his science leanings, Joe’s love of flavors and artistic approach to them has led him to fall passionately in love with cooking, culinary travel, cocktails, and various other flavor filled muses.
Joe Marrocco feels incredibly fortunate to have been able to carve out a successful career from what began as curiosity. Specialty Coffee has allowed his various interests and skills to culminate into one focused job. He now spends his days talking with roasters from all over about green coffee, roasting theory, taste, evaluation, and how to push the industry forward. He teaches courses all over the country. He is fortunate enough to spend time on various machines with literally hundreds of different coffees every year. He is listening to other roasters and coffee professionals share their thoughts, and consequently able to share this growing body of knowledge and experience with others; helping both individuals and the industry come closer to completing that full circle.