In 1992 Paul Odom founded Fonté Coffee Roaster, just as the coffee boom was about to explode in Seattle, Washington. While specialty coffee was becoming more popular with consumers, Odom saw a void in the hospitality market for a high-end product, noticing a lag in exceptional quality and service to chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers. At age 22, Odom made it his mission to create the finest coffee and espresso blends in the world by setting the strictest standards in product development and delivery. He procured the best roasting and processing equipment, built a sales team with experience in premium coffee and established a business to service this untapped market. Described by his peers as possessing a discriminating palate and a passion for the variety of rich flavors found in coffee, Odom partnered with master roaster Steve Smith to create the first of many high-quality specialty blends. Odom, along with Smith, a 25-year industry veteran with a coveted knowledge of the best sourcing regions in the world, developed a process where fresh coffee was shipped within 24 hours of roasting. Unheard of at the time, the roast-to-order program quickly established Fonté Coffee Roaster as one of the top coffee providers for the luxury hospitality market. In 1997, Odom also launched Fontés online business to service a rising demand for its coffee products in the consumer market. Today, Odom oversees a rigorous daily roasting schedule, a sales force on both coasts and a quality control program that maintains the highest standards of service to its top-tiered clientele. Award-winning chefs, fine restaurants and five-star hotel properties including the Wynn Resort Las Vegas, Four Seasons and the Peninsula are clients and order Fontés specialty coffee and espresso blends each week. In addition to luxury hotel clients, Fonté Coffee is sold direct to consumers via www.Fontécoffee.com and is also exported to coffee operators in Japan, Korea, Canada, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Costa Rica.
With a distinguished career in roasting coffee spanning over two decades, Steve Smith is an industry veteran and considered an expert by many in the coffee trade. Beginning in 1979, Smith worked for Starbucks and was one of the first roasters ever trained under the three original owners of the company. In the twelve years he worked with the company, he was the first and only roaster to earn the title of Master Roaster and was responsible for all aspects of the roasting process. In 1991, desiring to use more of an artisan approach to roasting, Smith left the company to pursue his passion for roasting coffee and went to work for a small, now defunct coffee company. It was here that he developed his personal roasting style discovering unique ways to bring out natural flavor profiles of various types of coffees. Just a year later, Smith brought his expertise to Fonté Coffee Roaster, an independent roaster in Seattle, where his craft-style of roasting coffee was welcomed as part of its unique approach to servicing high-end hospitality clients. Smiths production philosophy is that of a coffee purist his techniques adhere to the strictest standards and work to maintain the integrity of the coffee flavor during the roasting process. This is a driving force in Fontés methodology today. Smith, the most senior roaster in Seattle, is responsible for every aspect of the coffee production, including developing and maintaining important relationships with some of the finest coffee growers in the world. He works to secure the best beans available and visits key coffee growing areas to ensure the quality of harvest practices. He holds regular cuppings with Fonté owner Paul Odom to study flavor profiles from various regions and to create a plan for the development of Fontés new proprietary blends. He also oversees a rigorous production schedule based on a daily roast-to-order system, shipping out enormous amounts of coffee to clients within 24 hours of roasting, always making sure that Fonté delivers the freshest product possible. He also manages the tea program, which includes importing a variety of exotic teas, supervising the blending and developing new blends at a clients request. Smith is a Seattle native and grew up in Mercer Island. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Spanish and Literature. His daughter is a National Merit Scholar and currently attends Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Other than coffee, his passion is world music, especially Afro Cuban music.