Watch Us Work: Leah Ford, Logistics Specialist

By: Chelsey Walker-Watson

Jul 11, 2018

As a roaster sourcing coffee with Atlas, you might be wondering who all those people are that assist you with the numerous steps of selecting your green coffee, from exploring your options, processing orders, and getting a pallet delivered to your roastery.  Although we have been building relationships with coffee producers and roasters for over twenty years, just a small team of twenty people work together to move specialty coffee along our supply chain.  With our “Watch Us Work” series, we will take a peek behind the coffee-curtain to introduce you to Atlasians.

First up, Leah Ford, our Logistics Specialist.  Although the title of her role seemingly indicates someone that pours over maps and reviews quotes and data, serving as a master of logistics truly requires a person that can understand manage both the needs of others, the scattered details that she receives from differing shipping businesses, and the ability to translate information and facilitate communication, all while remaining cool as a cucumber.  Read on to learn more about Leah…

Q:" What did you do pre-Atlas?"

A: “Before Atlas, I was working at Nintendo in Customer Service, my first job out of college…I was working in bilingual customer service in Portuguese and English.  I knew nothing about video games before, like, at all, because I wasn’t allowed to have them as a kid, so that was a crash course in learning about Nintendo in a very short period of time…"

Q: "How did you get here?"

A:  "I did not know a lot about coffee, certainly not specialty coffee, and working at Atlas was my first coffee job.  Before this, I just knew that I liked coffee—if it had caffeine, I was on board.  I have really developed a lot of strong opinions since and learned the layout of the specialty coffee industry.

The commonality [between my two roles] was customer service.  Because, really, the basis of my job in Outbound Logistics is customer service. That is what I am really doing.  Assisting customers in getting their coffee out the door, whether that is communicating needs to a warehouse, setting up freight for them, choosing freight for them, tracking down their coffee when it is lost, late, or something has gone wrong with a delivery.  It is still that same skill-set of service and communicating that information that people are looking for."

Q:  "Leah, what do you do that no one else can do, either because you are awesome or the  keeper of knowledge?"

A:  "I have the most name recognition of people and the roasting business that they work at, because most everyone else [at Atlas] has just a small group of roasters that they work with, and I send out every single D.O. [Delivery Order] for everybody, so I have a lot of those random bits of knowledge that, ‘Oh, that roaster is in Eugene!  That one is from Ohio.’

I would say, as far as skills, and this might be a challenging thing to say, but I might be the fastest typist [in our quirky inventory management system].  During rushes, when there is no one else to help fill things out, I have gotten SO MANY Delivery Orders out quickly.  There was a time that we were a little short-staffed, and I just had to get out every order NO MATTER WHAT, and I definitely got up to speed.  I do pound the keyboard pretty hard.”

Q: "What is your favorite thing about Atlas?"

A:  "My coworkers and their sense of humor.  Everybody makes me laugh, all day.  Coming from previous jobs where everyone was a bit beige, and silent…here, we really care about each other, connect to each other, and we are really &^%$ funny.

The coffee is also hard to beat."

Q: "What is your favorite part of your role?"

A:  "Just like any other job that involves problem solving and service, it is really nice to receive a genuine thank you.  When people remember me at an event and come up to thank me, that is really great.  It can be hard to fix things on the outbound side of logistics, as when we are working with so many other parties, most problems are out of our control.  We have to depend on the broker, or the carrier, or the warehouse that we are working with, to provide information, and that can make it pretty hard to solve problems.  When roasters call me in distress, or call me needing coffee yesterday, I feel that stress and understand and feel that stress, and I want to make that better."

Q: "How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?"

A: "One if I am on my best behavior, two if it is a normal day, and up to four if there is something special that I really need to taste.  And this is excluding cupping.  I try to cup at least once a week."

Q: "If you could make coffee for any one person, who would it be?  What would you make for them?"

"Music is a really big part of my life, and I am a music nerd.  St. Vincent is my favorite musician of all time, and every time that she is even remotely near Seattle, I try to go see a show.

I would brew coffee for Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, and I would brew a Myanmar Natural on a Chemex for her.  She is classically trained and knows how to push boundaries, just like that coffee."

Q: [Her coworkers know that Leah loves RuPaul’s Drag Race].  "Leah, who is your favorite Queen?"

A:  "For season 10, definitely Ms. CrackerShe is just so funny and so smart.  IN general, my favorite queen that I have been introduced to is Katya.  She is the Chelsea Peretti of Drag [Leah loves standup comedy], and that is the highest compliment that I can give."

Q:  "What else are you doing when you are not at Atlas?"

A:  "On a weekday evening, I’m usually working out, handing out with my girlfriend, or going on a walk and listening to a podcast. My favorites include Comedy Bang Bang, Put Your Hands Together, Bodega Boys, and Brand New Podcast.

I have grown up in the Pacific Northwest my whole life, and no one has AC in Seattle, and the best way to deal with the heat I the summer is being near water, whether that is hiking, going to the islands, or heading to the beach for a swim."

Q: "Who is your favorite goalie in soccer?"  [Leah played soccer as a goalie for twelve years].

"I’ve been a fan of the Seattle Reign since the National Women’s Soccer League started in 2013. Haley Kopmeyer was part of the team for most of those 5 years, and she is just incredible to watch."

Thank you for exploring Leah's role, and hopefully you gained insight into how she works.


To experience our adventures in Seattle and at origin from afar, follow @atlas_coffee

Do you have a passion for logistics like Leah?  We are hiring for a temporary Logistics Assistant...