sump coffee brewer, zach althaus photo by greg rannells

Ones to Watch 2015: Zach Althaus

Age: 29
Why Watch Him: This brewer is in it to win it.

Zach Althaus is competitive. He can’t help it. In fact, he attended college on a golf scholarship and almost played professionally before trading his clubs for coffee beans. For the past 10 years, he’s plied his craft at Kansas City’s Roasterie and St. Louis’ Kaldi’s, Comet Coffee, Foundation Grounds, Goshen and Sump Coffee, where he now works. His creativity and zeal elevate coffee from mere morning quaffable to an experience akin to drinking wine. His monthly cuppings (educational tastings) and experimental “R&D Mondays” are nonpareil. We’re not the only ones who deem Althaus a rising star. In 2014, he reached the penultimate round of the United States Coffee Championships Brewers Cup, the Olympics of coffee. He’ll compete again this February. And around St. Louis, his admirers weigh in with highly caffeinated praise.

His boss
He’s ambitious and driven, loves to compete and wants to win. This is his life and because of that there’s an intensity, a sincerity and a connectiveness he develops (with customers). It’s like being a sommelier: A good barista shouldn’t intimidate. He should ask questions seamlessly, talk about the coffees without being confusing. Zach does this exceptionally well. (What’s) amazing is his enthusiasm hasn’t waned after 10 years in the coffee world. He still has the same rapture. – Scott Carey, co-owner, Sump Coffee

His golf partner
One day – and this is not a joke – (Althaus and other Sump employees) were debating what pouring water clockwise or counterclockwise over the grounds does to the cup. It goes to that level. Watching Zach working with coffee is like watching a chef in the zone, controlling the tempo. – Adam Altnether, corporate chef and partner, Niche Food Group

His regular
He’s dedicated his life to (coffee) not because it’s cool. There’s integrity, there’s realism. When you’re really good at something, there’s no arrogance. You’re humble … and it’s all about making people happy. And Zach is very humble. He’s definitely one of those people that makes the experience better.
– Kevin Nashan, chef-owner, Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.

*Chef interviews were conducted by phone to maintain the anonymity of Sauce restaurant reviewer Michael Renner.

Tags : People