NAME: Camilla Yuan
YEARS ROASTING: 2.5 Years
COMPANY: Temple Coffee Roasters, Sacramento, CA
“I’m not really used to talking about myself.”
Camilla opens up our conversation hesitantly—the only way I can think to describe Camilla in the beginning is cautiously grateful. Camilla is our featured roaster for the month of May, and when you ask her why she thinks she was chosen to be part of the project, she responds with the same careful grace. “I was so floored. I thought, ‘me?’”
We have no questions about Camilla here at Matchbook. We chose to work with her because of her kindness and talent. She’s been roasting coffee for Temple Coffee in Sacramento, Calif., for over two years, and approaches roasting much like the rest of her life—measured and with intention.
When others describe their ascent into the coffee world, it’s usually riddled with accidental circumstances: a break from a job ended up being a worthwhile career move, or a casual barista job at your neighborhood café to make an extra buck morphed into something more. Not a lot of people approach coffee professionals for informational interviews—which is what Camilla did as a student at UC Davis.
“I really wanted to get into specialty coffee, and at the time UC Davis was coming out with a coffee course. I went to talk to one of the professors and she gave me a list of coffeeshops to visit,” Camilla shares after working at Starbucks throughout college. “That’s when I approached Temple Coffee. I set up an informational interview with Eton Tsuno [then head of coffee for Temple] and told him I was interested in learning about roasting and green coffee.” After that, Camilla shadowed Eton and Temple’s head roaster, Jake Deome, and worked her way up at the café: first working the register, then becoming a barista and eventually moving into roasting.
Camilla’s approach to coffee is direct and straightforward, and sort of feels like what Camilla communicates organically. “I want to highlight what the green coffee can offer naturally. We don’t want to really add anything to it.” Speaking to Camilla means getting straightforward answers. No run on sentences, no guessing on questions she doesn’t know the answer to. Instead, Camilla is considerate and patient, weighing in when something needs to be said.
When I asked her to describe herself, she pauses. For a long time. After thinking perhaps I need to ask the question again, she says, “I pay really close attention to detail. I’m particular and meticulous. But I also like to keep things simple. I take things step by step and one by one.”
For someone who likes to let coffee speak for itself, I can’t think of a better person to roast you coffee. Camilla might not always say the same about herself, though. “Imposter syndrome is something I’ve always dealt with, and I think it’s especially a thing people who are new to the industry feel,” she shares, referencing the phenomenon that many of us feel when we receive accolades, promotions, or praise for our work but doubt we’re worthy. “I remember a time when I was roasting and my boss was doing QC work, and he said, ‘Oh these are nice coffees, good job.’ And I thought, ‘really?!’ and he said, ‘why would you ask that?’” Camilla finds comfort in her friends and co-workers, but that doesn’t mean she’s figured out how to get over it entirely. “At some point, you have to have confidence. I think, even gaining experience, I’ll always struggle with this. Let’s say I get a really big award—I’ll think, ‘is this really happening?’”
Regardless, Camilla is determined to always work harder and be better. For Matchbook, she’s chosen a coffee from Ecuador that is meant to challenge both her and you, the drinkers of this delicious coffee. “I picked this coffee because it tasted great, but it’s also different from coffees I normally gravitate towards,” she shares (funny story—Camilla approached us weeks before her release to taste and pick coffees, and initially picked a coffee that had accidentally been nabbed earlier by our April roaster, Steve Cuevas). Camilla’s coffee was produced by Hernan Zuñiga, and you can expect to find balance, sweetness, and complexity in the cup. “I really like a coffee that punches your palate and makes you come back to it and think about it.”
Above all else, Camilla wants you to like the coffee. “I want people to think, ‘Wow—this is really well-roasted!’ I want people to think I’m doing a good job.” She’s keen on giving our audience a well-crafted product, and has the talent, restraint, and patience to do so. We’re thrilled to feature Camilla’s coffee. We know you’ll be thrilled to drink it.