Greg Roberts was already 42 years old when he started Equator Coffee. What was he doing until then? In his college years Greg hitchhiked through Mexico and spent a year in the Peruvian jungle, becoming quite fluent in the Spanish language along the way. In the 1970’s and 80’s Greg worked as a freelance writer and musician. He wrote for the outdoor press, specializing in fly-fishing, and did some professional fly-tying to help pay the bills. His articles appeared in magazines such as Fly Fisherman, Outdoor Life, and Sports Afield.
As a violinist Greg played in jazz and country bands, sometimes wearing a tuxedo, sometimes a cowboy shirt and string tie. In those days, he was also in demand as an emcee for Northwest bluegrass and folk festivals.
In 1987 a U.S. fishing tackle company sent Greg to Guatemala to resurrect a women’s fly-tying co-op. He was picked for that job because of an unusual skill combination: fluency in Spanish and tying flies. Greg’s contact in Huehuetenango, Antonio Galvez, often reminded him how great the coffee was from that part of Guatemala, and that he should export that too, along with the fishing flies. (Greg must have always kept that in mind because he included some Huehuetenango coffee in that first shipment of beans sent to Eugene just a few years later).
In 1989, he took a position as a regional sales director for a large Northwest coffee roaster. His career there was cut short when the company was sold to a consortium that slashed much of the company’s personnel. What to do? Set out on your own and roast the same coffee at a better price with faster service.
After 20 years of building the business, Greg still enjoys his hobbies of music and fishing. Fishing and his Spanish language skills have made him many friends in Mexico and Central America, and he continues to play music with the many great country and swing musicians in Oregon. Currently he is playing swing fiddle with the Texas Toasters.
But these activities are just hobbies. Greg still works at Equator five days a week, sometimes six. He enjoys his work, and is not likely to give it up while he is still walking around. . .