NAME: Karley Jane Webb
YEARS ROASTING: 2 Years
COMPANY: N/A, San Francisco, CA
“If I had to identify with an animal, I’d pick an ant. They’re really good at getting things done and then coming home to their colony,” Karley says, jovially and without batting an eye. Karley is our featured roaster for March at Matchbook, and is maybe more excited about this project than you are (certainly not us here at Matchbook HQ—we’re thrilled!). “I’m doing this because it seems like it’d be really fun,” she exclaims. Trying to transcribe Karley’s interview made me question how many times I was using exclamation points, but Karley radiates pure enthusiasm and delight.
Expect to taste that excitement in her coffee, which is a washed Colombian coffee called Bella Vista. Initially expecting to pick an African coffee, Karley was blown away by this Colombian coffee that defied her expectations. “Usually when I think of Colombian coffees I think of nutty, but this one I picked was so sweet.”
Yeah, yeah, ok…but what about that ant thing? Karley elaborated that she identified with ants because they are detailed-oriented and know how to get tasks done, things she likes when she’s working. “They’re really smart and really organized and know how to get their shit done,” she says. Quickly, she switches to a dog comparison, and notes how she always likes to be occupied, moving around and running from task to task. “I’m like a puppy—you have to take me out all day and tire me out before I want to go home.” This also informs the way she thinks about her future in coffee.
She’s been a trainer, a barista, but her true passion is roasting because it checks off so many of the traits she cares about, including keeping busy. “I need to constantly be doing a task. As much as I love front of service, I need to always be occupied.”
(By the way, Karley did just get a puppy, and if you haven’t checked out photos of it on her Instagram, you’re missing out.)
Karley’s coffee future is full of possibilities—she’s interested in green buying, still loves to roast, and talks casually about maybe opening her own place—and part of that is due to her coffee past. As a student in microbiology in Hawaii, Karley ended up being introduced to coffee as a barista, but then quickly ended up working on a coffee farm picking and processing cherries. “I’d be on the farm for eight hours a day and be picking all day and I’d come back with only eight pounds and then it gets processed and I’d end up with even less!” The work was grueling, but gave her an insight into coffee most roasters don’t get to experience. “I’m not Q certified, but I’ve spent a lot of time looking and processing green. Seeing green product and knowing how much it’s gone through—like we know some of that stuff conceptually, but knowing how long things take and the work that actually goes into making coffee happen is amazing.” This work propelled her love of coffee and solidified her commitment to it.
For now, you can catch Karley pulling shots at her local café, and then running off to the beach to hang out with her puppy. “I really resonate with the ocean,” she shares. She came to San Francisco, where she’s currently based, because “the only thing I knew about San Francisco was that it was the place to go for coffee,” and right now it feels like doors are open everywhere for her. When she talks about opening up her own café—not for sure, but a possibility—she mentions being told that she’s too passionate or into her work. “People have said, ‘you care too much about your job,’ and I think, ‘is that a bad thing?’ It’s kind of when your mom loves you too much.”
Although Karley has a ton ahead of her, it hasn’t always come easily. “It’s discouraging to hear that you’re too passionate about something,” she shares, and talks about how easy people are to penalize her enthusiasm. “That’s why for the past two years I’ve been sort of in and out of the coffee industry.”
For all her passion and drive, however, there’s still lightness. There’s still talk about ants and sideways discussions about her puppy and her silly dad humor. “I think my personality is really cheesy. If I could be any piece of clothing it’d be a fanny pack.” Karley is both predictably likeable and unpredictably focused and determined, and she wants people to know her passion for coffee shouldn’t be off-putting—quite the opposite, actually. “I don’t open up to a lot of people, and I want people to know that I’m approachable and I care so much about coffee,” she shares.
Karley knows herself well; maybe that’s from hours working in solitude picking cherries or roasting green, and perhaps it’s what makes her an amazing roaster and interesting person to interview for this project—and we’re thrilled to have her. So think deeply about yourself and your traits when you drink Karley’s coffee. Or think about fanny packs. You’ll have fun either way.