Partner, Director of Coffee
I am not a big fan of talking about myself. But I’m told it’s important that our prospective customers know where my skills and interests are for me, and my family business. Below is really what I’m about. I have a bio someone wrote for me. If you want to learn more about my background and experience in the coffee business, here it is. But, here’s why I can be the guy you buy your roasted coffee from, for you or your customers morning ritual and afternoon dessert:
- I’ve been buying and roasting coffees for almost 35 years. I’m not that old, but I started my coffee career at 18 with a roaster who has been in Portland for many years.
- I know where to find the best quality and valued fresh crop bourbon, typica, geisha or any other heirloom coffee varietal, many discovered by going to coffee origins and looking for them.
- I’ve roasted every type of coffee in every style there is, from over 30 countries and from over 75 unique regions hidden inside each country.
- I know how to roast every varietal and raw coffee process style that exists today and have a clear understanding of how roasting profiles and roast levels for each origin and varietal contributes to their aroma and flavor.
- I’ve spent a lot of time traveling the world buying coffee and I know how to create economically and environmentally prosperous and sustainable deals with coffee farming families, directly with these growers.
- I’ve dedicated most of my years in this industry to learning from the best coffee people in the world and then sharing my learnings with others. And now, I want to share my experience and stories with my local community, and friends and family abroad.
- I have volunteered over 25 years during my career, to the efforts of the Specialty Coffee Association, SCAA Roasters Guild, Barista Guild, and many other industry conduits, giving me valuable insights and connections in the coffee industry, and earning me my most cherished friendships.
- I’ve raised a family of 6 daughters and 2 sons, many who are adults today. And I have 6 grandchildren and more on the way, so I’m a very patient person and a good listener.
My personal mission at Thornton Family Coffee Roasters is to share my experience with the coffee lovers in Portland and surrounding area where I live and love so much, in the form of really good coffee. And to offer education about coffee to our customers, while creating a sustainable business with my family, and for my family and friends.
PS: Rose City ‘Til I Die!
Rachel Thornton Verhaalen
Partner, Sales Director
My name is Rachel. I’m the second child of Paul Thornton – or as he likes to call me, “number 2.” That happens when you’re one of 8 kids.
I grew up around coffee, which I guess isn’t too surprising with who Dad is. I remember riding in his old VW Bus to CBI when I was little, buzzing with excitement that I got to cruise along with Dad at work. The sight and smell of roasting coffee is a big piece of my childhood, along with memories of stacked burlap bags of green coffee in the warehouse. Hanging out in his office while he worked, I’d be coloring or playing games. We would take a break and explore the building, climbing up steep ladders and seeing the action happening up close – where coffee came from, how it was roasted, was a fact for me. I always grabbed a handful of hair-nets to bring home to my siblings to play with.
It was just so cool. Dad’s job was so cool.
So, I got into coffee with my first job at 16, working at the same coffee plant my dad did in Portland, Oregon. Here’s a little bit about me, from then to now
- I spent 3 years working in a large roasting facility. I did some of the less-glamourous work in the industry - labeling, rolling, and taping bags being churned out of the form and fill machines, and filling orders coming in – picking items, packaging them, and shipping them out to customers.
- I like talking to people. I love talking to people about coffee, and I love making it. I worked as a Barista, as well as a retail manager, in both Tigard & Beaverton, Oregon, for nearly 5 years and it became a passion of mine. The opportunity to continue training others in coffee education is a driving force for me.
- I lived and breathed coffee production from 2010 to 2016 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, with my husband Chris. Picking, wet milling, and raking parchment on a 110-degree drying deck was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but because of it I have an immense amount of respect and care for coffee farmers and what they do.
- I learned to roast on a feisty Probat roaster on a coffee farm in Hawaii, focusing on roasting for flavor, manual control, and tracking stats in a roasting log (aka, a dirty, well-worn notepad)
- I managed operations for one of the largest producers of Kona coffee for over 3 years - hiring new employees, discussing ways to grow business, writing company policies, managing accounts, and company cash-flow and budget/forecast. I also helped train employees on quality control while buying cherry, and wrote company documentation for the process.
- I’m the lucky mom of a crazy, awesome 4-year-old. Our daughter was born in Hawaii, and has spent her entire life surrounded by coffee – she knows green from parchment to roasted. She’s also been surrounded by a million Barbies, and has a love for Monster Trucks and Disney princesses.
- I grew up in the Portland-Metro area. I have a deep love for the city, the culture, and the sports teams – when I root, I root for the Timbers!
I want to share with others my passion for coffee. The work that goes in to that morning cup, from the farmer to the barista, and on to the consumer.
Starting this company with my husband and my father is beyond exciting. And it is just the beginning.
My name is Chris Verhaalen, I am Rachel’s husband and Paul Thornton’s son in law.
I was born in Portland and grew up in Tigard. Since I was young I have had a passion for the outdoors and machines. I have always considered myself a “doer” whether it was repairing my own bicycles at a young age, or my cars, motorcycles, and computers as I got older. In recent years, this has transitioned into a love for coffee processing (specifically roasting) and the machines that we use to make it happen.
In 2012 I decided to move to Hawaii to work on a coffee farm. This decision was partly due to being between jobs at the time and having an opportunity to have an adventure and learn something new. But to be honest, it was mostly for a girl. That girl is now my wife and the mother of my daughter, so I guess you could say I made the right decision.
I took to coffee processing quickly, after a couple short years I became the roastmaster for what was one of the largest Kona Coffee processors in the state at the time. Not long after that I hired a roasting assistant, took over our dry mill operations, and moved into a management role for our coffee buying and processing operations. With a focus on quality and efficiency, I executed various policy changes in roasting alone making the company more efficient than ever realized. I bring this devotion to quality and efficiency into the work I do, reducing waste and lowering costs.
I spent a lot of time learning about raw coffee defects and their values in specialty coffee, which has made me well versed in raw coffee production. I know how to identify these defects and expect this skill to support TFCR’s green coffee buying process through an extended communication with our growers and producers.
I could not be more excited to be involved in this new venture with Paul and Rachel, and look forward to sharing our passion for quality coffee with the public.