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Presta: Roasting Beautiful Coffee

Coffee: a superfluous commodity made central by our common addiction. Even for the irreligious, the aroma of the percolating murky liquid awakens the soul before the caffeine has a chance to do its job. Our long to-do list is often made possible by the men and women who produce and purvey this magical beverage.


Presta Coffee Roasters is one of those excellent producers that we can proudly say is owned and operated right here in Tucson, Arizona. I remember my first experience at Presta. The sincere conversations over the register as I ordered my cappuccino are hard to forget. As a newly minted Tucsonan, it gave me hope for the genuine hospitality in my new city. And then it got even better when I took my first sip. Presta served up more than friendly interactions, their coffee was wonderful.

By now, I’ve tried most everything from their potent nitro cold brew to their delicious mochas to my at home pour-over with their freshly roasted beans. I’m always in awe of what they create. Presta is true to the slogan that is proudly stamped across their website: Roasting beautiful coffees in Tucson.

There is so much to this statement that rings true. Coffee is a universal language with many dialects, each one telling the story of its unique place and time. Presta simultaneously displays the best of Tucson and of many coffee-growing communities around the world. They make the world a little smaller by allowing us to taste of the beauty cultivated by the hands of farmers we’ll never meet. They allow us to drink in the legacies of family farms that have done this good work for generations.


Enjoying Presta’s coffee gives us the chance to support our local and global neighbors simultaneously. A beautiful truth weaved into the fabric of life is that what tastes best to our palates is often good for the world. The Presta team carefully selects the coffee that they source and pays the farmers more for the superior product. In fact, the team just recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica to taste new coffees and spend time with the people that make it all possible.

They also do regular “cuppings” locally as a part of their meticulous process of determining the right roast for each unique coffee. I was invited to join, and was amazed by the distinctive flavors as the coffees stood side by side. Through this process I learned that one reason Presta can produce such diverse products is precisely because we’re in Tucson. The more moisture present in an environment requires the coffee to be roasted longer to push out that humidity. Our dry, desert air allows them to play with lighter roasts that show off the complexities of the coffee bean. These flavor nuances tell us a story of origin: perhaps the rainy side of a sloping hill at a high elevation. All of these factors create distinctive, beautiful coffee.


Each Presta location delivers this spectacular coffee in a different atmosphere. The coffee (and beer and wine!) bar at the Mercado flows seamlessly from indoors to outdoors and is surrounded on all sides by local businesses. A collision of people with different interests and intentions find their home in this space; a cornerstone for Tucson visitors and natives alike. The 1st Avenue location (just north of Grant Rd.) is tucked away in an award-winning space filled with friends that have become a part of the Presta family. Also on display is the hard work that goes into roasting beautiful coffee and some clues into how Presta got its name.

Named after a type of bike-valve, Presta’s original inspiration came from owner, Curtis Zimmerman’s long history in the cycling world. Especially during his time in Europe, the cycling community started their day at coffee shops. This daily liturgy stuck with him. These cycling roots definitely still find expressions in the life of Presta. Last year Presta gave out 680 cups of coffee to riders at Clif Bar’s tour de Tucson. They plan to continue to imagine new ways to engage with this world just as they have brought their hospitality to other community events such as Cultivate Tucson and other pop-up markets with the iconic Presta van.


If you’re already a fan of Presta, get excited…very soon they will be moving all of their roasting operations to their new warehouse on 17th and Park. This is going to be yet another meeting place for countless collaborations and good times drinking coffee. The increased space for roasting will also help Presta keep up with their growth, with yet another shop opening in the coming months in the Iron Horse neighborhood and many new wholesale accounts at some of the best local restaurants in Phoenix.  

This growth continues to increase meaningful employment here in Tucson, which is something that excites Presta manager, Braden Hammond. For him, employing young men and women isn’t just about providing them with a paycheck but developing their talents and interests as an integral part of Presta Coffee. When they are able to express their unique gifts, they make the business better and have a more meaningful work life. For Braden, he hopes to help extend this mentality even beyond the team, and work towards a more connected coffee community across Tucson that can learn and enjoy each other’s craft.

So this is Presta. There is much more to it of course, but I hope that this helps give you a fuller picture of this company that roasts beautiful coffee in Tucson. Next time you grab a cup or a bag of beans look out for their newest releases: The Los Congos from Nicaragua and the La Luna from Mexico. Also keep an eye out for the release of the Dos Cabezas Pinot Noir barrel-aged Guatemalan Esperanza that has already been aging for over three months! See you at Presta!


Teena lives in Tucson, Arizona and loves to capture the passions of others with words.

Find more of Teena's work at www.shakingspirits.com.

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