Monday, March 28, 2016

Jamie Jeschke of La Cosecha Wants to Change the World Through Coffee

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 6:45 AM


Gio Sparks (left) and Jamie Jeschke, co-founders of La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. - HARLAN MCCARTHY
  • Harlan McCarthy
  • Gio Sparks (left) and Jamie Jeschke, co-founders of La Cosecha Coffee Roasters.
Before co-founding La Cosecha Coffee Roasters (7360 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-440-0337) in 2006, Jamie Jeschke thought he took his coffee seriously. He ground his own beans, brewed using a French press and had a general appreciation for different origins.

Then he went over to his friend Gio Sparks' house, and his coffee worldview changed. 

"Gio had been roasting his own beans at home using a hot air popcorn popper," Jeschke recalls. "He told me about it, so I went over and tried it. I was blown away."

Jeschke, who has a background in international business, had always been interested in different cultures. His newfound appreciation for roasting came the desire to learn all he could about coffee. That led to an understanding of coffee as a commodity and how the economics of the coffee trade impact its producers. "I began learning about the farmers and how little they make," Jeschke says. "So one day, flying back from a business trip, I thought, 'We can do something about this.'"

Jeschke ran the idea of starting a coffee-roasting company past Sparks, who did not have to think too hard before enthusiastically saying yes. The pair began La Cosecha Coffee Roasters as a wholesale company first, focusing on providing fair trade-certified beans to their customers. 

For years, fans of their coffee would ask Jeschke and Sparks if they had a cafe where they could come to grab a cup. Finally, in 2013, the pair partnered with Great Harvest Bread Company and opened a coffee bar in Maplewood. Their business model was not the only thing to evolve: Now, La Cosecha is focusing on direct trade coffee, which ensures an even higher wage goes to the farmers. 

Jeschke took a break from the roaster to share his thoughts on the St. Louis food and beverage scene, his food and beverage guilty pleasures, and why he doesn't have a problem spelling the names of all of those different coffee regions. 

What is one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did?
I was an alternate for the spelling bee and running long jump in fifth grade.

What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?
Enjoying that first cup of coffee.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Super-speed would be fun, but I could probably do more good healing others.

What is the most positive thing in food or beverage that you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year?
Strong support for local businesses seems to be growing each year.

Who is your St. Louis food or drink crush?
Food — Nachomama’s. Drink — Side Project Cellar.

Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?
Coffee, duh.

If you weren’t working in the coffee business, what would you be doing?
Travel host for Globe Trekker.

Name an ingredient never allowed at La Cosecha.
Cottage cheese.

What is your after-work hangout?
Hanging out at home with the family.

What’s your food or beverage guilty pleasure?
Food — malted milk balls. Drink — Squirt pop.

What would be your last meal on earth?
Carnitas, tacos al pastor, guacamole and cerveza.

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.


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