During my junior year at the business school at ASU I got a call right before class. It was one of the most random and weird phone conversation I have ever had.
At this time in late 2012 I just started roasting at Reserve in North Phoenix and building my reputation as an event coordinator and coffee educator. The guy that called me, Curtis, had heard about me due to my activity in the coffee community in Phoenix; but was informing me about his new cafe in Tucson. It really was more of a ramble about an event downtown that he had to get ready for and his wife wanting better coffee at the hospital she works at. Honestly, I didn't understand much of what he said besides that this guy was opening a cafe in Tucson soon.
As you can imagine I was a bit skeptical of the whole confrontation and put it on the back burner for a while. A few months later the guy contacted me again about the grand opening of his store, Stella Java. For some reason unknown to me I drove down to Tucson for a weekend to stay with this guy I have never met and help him work the bar for the first opening days. It was an orchestra of coffee carts inside a new open air market just outside of downtown and they were using a local roaster called Exo. I was pretty hyped!
I ended up falling in love with Curtis, his family, his vision, and Tucson (to some degree). I would end up returning quite frequently to stay at Curtis' house in order to help him with Stella and eventually his new project, Presta. Curtis knew he wanted to roast from the get-go and got into this perfect space sharing a building with an architecture firm. He hooked up a nice roaster, put up a nice bar with legit machines and grinders, and started to roast for Stella Java as an experimental platform. I got to come down to Tucson and teach him how to choose green coffee and roast specialty coffee. Curtis has always been a huge support and was also there for me 100% when I needed help getting ready for barista competition. Now that he is ready to go as a roaster after a few years as a store owner and very hard work we are excited for the grand opening of Presta Coffee Roasters retail store front.