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Katie Carguilo to Help Lead Counter Culture Coffee’s Westward Charge

Counter Culture Katie Carguilo

Katie Carguilo. Photo courtesy of Counter Culture Coffee.

Of Counter Culture Coffee‘s eight existing regional training centers, the Chicago outpost its Westernmost. That’s about to change big time, as the company is moving “fully into the West,” in the words of CCC’s Katie Carguilo, who has recently been assigned the title West Coast Coffee Analyst, a new leadership role within the expanding company’s Coffee Department.

After beginnings at Nick Cho’s Washington D.C.-area Murky Coffee, Carguilo has for the past seven years been helping lead coffee quality and training efforts at CCC in New York. The 2012 U.S. Barista Champion will now play a large role in calibrating the company’s coffee program from coast to coast, as CCC readies a 1,200-square-foot training center and roasting lab, set to open late this year in Emeryville, Calif.

Carguilo says she expects to work on a day-to-day basis with CCC’s other coffee department heads: Roastmaster Tim Hill, Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu, and Coffee Buyer’s Agent Hannah Popish. This being CCC’s first roastery outside of its Durham, N.C., headquarters, Carguilo repeatedly mentioned the concept of calibration throughout the coffee department in a recent interview with Daily Coffee News.

(related: Counter Culture Buyers Ionescu and Hill on a ‘Coalescing’ Direct-Trade Philosophy)

“We already to coordinated tastings at all of our East Coast training centers at 10 o’clock on Fridays,” says Carguilo, adding that an organizational email goes out before each tasting, which may include new coffees, coffee comparisons and brew method comparisons of individual coffees. “It is one of the things as a company that we have found keeps us all calibrated in our different roles.”

While the Durham team will continue to lead coffee buying, Carguilo’s new role puts her between the West Coast roasting operation and the coffee department. And much as she has in New York, Carguilo will help lead quality and training operations at the new quality lab.

“I didn’t anticipate how much I would like the style of work I’ve been doing,” Carguilo says of her time with CCC in New York. “I really love the training part and the coffee-expert-knowledge part of the job. I just love what I do.”

(related: Check Out This Fun, Interactive Coffee Seasonality Map from Counter Culture)

Asked what to expect at CCC’s new West Coast digs, Carguilo says even she is not totally sure, although much of the 12,000 square feet will be dedicated to the roastery and production area. The lab, she says, is likely to share some of the practical and aesthetic elements found in the company’s New York training lab, which opened last year. Jane Kim, who led the design of the NYC facility, has also working on CCC in Emeryville, although renderings of the new space have been highly guarded.

As this largely East Coast company moves West, we asked Carguilo — a native New Hampshirite who has spent most of her professional career in New York and D.C. — what the move will be like personally. “For some reason, there has always been a special place in my heart for California,” she says. “When I was a teenager, I did the 101 drive with my parents and it made a big impression on me. This feels a little bit like a dream come true.”