Corey Russell opened Santa Barbara Roasting Company 26 years ago with a deep commitment to providing the highest quality coffee from all over the world in tandem with incredible customer service. Corey then decided to roast his own coffee in small batches of 50 pounds or less, a process customers get to see as they sip their cups inside the cafe. Trendy coffee houses have proliferated all over Santa Barbara in recent years, but RoCo remains our most legendary.
I first met Corey in 1997, when the business expanded into wholesale and he helped me open the coffee shop I co-owned in Summerland. He was so generous with his vast knowledge of coffee. When I reached out to him to answer the Proust Questionnaire, he told me he’s uninteresting. Well, I beg to differ.
Who do you most admire?
My father. He taught me so much and when I reflect on his life I am still learning. Truly the coolest, hardest working, most loving man I’ve ever known.
What do like most about your job?
After more than 25 years, I now love the freedom it gives me to do anything I want. At the beginning it was just loving the fact that I could earn a living and do what I love. It is true, what they say.
What is your current state of mind?
Anxious. I have some projects in the works and hope to finish them soon so that my current state of mind will become peaceful and content. But then I will probably start another project.
What do you most value in friends?
First, I like it when they can remember my name, that’s a big one. After that I’m just glad when they stay alive a long time. Unfortunately many of them are starting to let me down on that one.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Hmm, I’m going to have to think about that one. If I were pushed into a corner I would say Chevy Chase. I guess he is not historical yet, is he?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having good health along with a healthy, happy family and close friends that you can explore life with.
What is your greatest fear?
Being forced to live in Bakersfield.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Traveling. I love to travel and, when I do, I love to go places I’ve never been and just explore. Except for Bakersfield.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Honesty, kindness, and love.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
What is your most marked characteristic?
When I am interested in something I go all in to learn everything I possibly can about it. I can be rather obsessive until I learn all I can then I tend to become uninterested in it and I move on.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome. I think most everything is quite awesome.
Which talent would you most like to have?
A natural ability to sing and play music.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To always be kind. Sometimes I fail at that and I am working on it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Surviving the ‘70s….not everybody did!
Where would you most like to live?
Right here in Santa Barbara. That’s not a fair question I don’t think. Otherwise maybe Bakersfield?
What is your most treasured possession?
My wife but she hates it when I say that.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My grandkids. I usually know what they are thinking when they give me a funny look.
What is your motto?
Life, it’s a beautiful thing!
On what occasion do you lie?
Mainly during interviews like this one.