Equator Coffees is made up of unique and passionate individuals. In our latest installment of our, Get To Know Us series we introduce you to one of our Associate Coffee Roasters, Kiana Lunasco.
Kiana and our fantastic team of roasters roast thousands of pounds of coffee on a daily basis. If you're drinking a cup of Equator Coffee, then there is a good chance Kiana roasted it. We chatted with Kiana to learn the behind the scenes of what goes into roasting coffee at Equator each and every day.
What is your role at Equator Coffees?
I am part of our eight-person roasting team at our headquarters. On a given day I roast anything from our beautiful signature blends to thoughtfully sourced single-origin coffees. Most days you can also find me in front of an espresso machine pulling shots of our seasonal espresso blends such as Tigerwalk Espresso or Fair Trade Organic Jaguar Espresso to ensure that everything is tasting up to par. I also help facilitate production roast coffee cuppings of all our current menu offerings for the roasting and green-buying teams. When I’m not in front of the espresso machine or cupping table participating in quality control, you’ll also find me in the office inputting new coffees on our website for customers to enjoy!
Where did you get your start?
My first coffee job was at a little company called Starbucks back in 2006. I was a barista with them for over four years, and I loved it. I had an excellent manager at that time who had an admirable passion for coffee and the preparation of it. His attitude was infectious, and soon I caught his passion for coffee. I honestly didn’t start loving the taste of coffee until a couple of years into my job, because I did not understand how to taste coffee. I remember vividly the day he prepared a perfect French Press of a Sumatra for me; earthy, full-bodied, and surprisingly clean with a cherry note that lingered for what seemed like days. It was something I had never experienced before when drinking coffee. It was a revelation for me early in my career that coffee is a nuanced and complex beverage that has distinct flavor notes. I took some time off to finish my Theatre Arts degree at Sacramento State College, but as fate would have it, I found my way back into the coffee game when I became enthralled in learning how to roast coffee last year and have yet to look back.
What is a typical day like for you?
First things’ first: brew up a Chemex. Roasting starts as early as 5:00 AM, so we need great coffee in our systems to keep us fueled for the busy workday ahead of us.
The roasting team receives a critical document each morning called a ‘Roast Report’ from our operations team and the production team then forecasts all the coffees we need to roast so everything can get packaged and boxed before the end of the day. We keep three machines running from 5:00 AM until 7:00 PM: a 35-Kilo Loring Kestrel, 35-Kilo San Franciscan 75, and our classic 7.5-Kilo Petroncini (a roasting machine that has been with Equator for more than 15 years!). When we’re not roasting on one of those machines, you can find any one of us helping our production team match wholesale and retail bags to fill. Restocking and cutting open green coffee bags on the main production floor, cupping coffees or pulling espresso shots for quality control. And, of course, keeping the warehouse space clean, be it sweeping or washing dishes!
Why do you love working in the coffee industry?
The community of people that grace my presence every day is the most beautiful thing about this industry. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. There are so many different and unique personalities within our community, but everyone has a common denominator: a big heart. There are no egos to be found at Equator; everyone is open to sharing ideas, knowledge, and also listening to what their colleague has to say. The support and positive vibes I receive from everybody are life-sustaining and inspiring. I wake up each morning with excitement, passion, and pride for what I do because our community has that effect on me. I’ve never felt more at home with Equator and the coffee industry. That’s a beautiful thing.
Associate Coffee Roaster | Equator Coffees & Teas