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American Faces #39





Derek De La Paz is the highly caffeinated man behind the handmade coffee mug. His dark brown eyes, infectious smile, and truly engaging personality welcomed me into his kitchen as he told me a bit about his life. I heard his zest for life, food, and all he senses in the world around him as we spoke. His life story has as many complex layers to it as the food dishes he once created as an award winning chef in California, and in the multifaceted taste profiles he creates through his masterful roasting at Mill City Roasters. Derek spoke of how he incorporates the world around him; sights, smells, and what he feels all in some way become fused into the beans and ultimately a great cup of coffee. Derek’s humor and wit were on par with that great cup of coffee as he spoke of his Dutch and Mexican family backgrounds. This part Dutch, part Mexican, and all-American guy is so thankful for his mom, sister, and grandma who poured into his life and encouraged him along the way. Those three women helped form his view on life and helped to influence his mark on the coffee world one roasted batch of beans at a time.

There is always much that can be read between the lines of every story written like this one. Is Derek perfect? No. No one is. But this 46 year old man is learning something new about himself every day. He strives to bring out the best in others, just like others have done for him.

Derek ended our conversation with a powerful statement; “Every moment is a moment to change things.”




Those eight words can change the world. May we all live out Derek’s words in the days ahead.

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