As an experienced Beverage Steward at our Bend Market, KJ’s foremost advice is to have an open mind when choosing a bottle of wine or fresh-roasted coffee.
“There’s such a huge world out there to discover,” she says. “There’s so much innovation and creativity in the beverage space right now. I would encourage anyone to explore outside their usual selections or comfort zone and try something they haven’t tried before.”
After attending a tasting at age 21, wine has been her passion ever since. In college, she and her friends would head into the forest with a bottle of wine and talk philosophy under the stars.
Before joining the Market of Choice team in 2019, KJ racked up years of experience in the wine industry. While working for an organic winery in California, she had the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world. She’s trained with the Court of Master Sommeliers and continues to follow the most recent trends through her own studies, as well as company-sponsored events.
“I love wine. It’s just a never-ending world of experiences to discover,” she says. “You could study it your whole life and still not know everything.”
She enjoys sharing her wine and coffee knowledge with customers, especially with those who are willing to try something new. “There have been times when a customer comes back and says, ‘I loved that wine! Or ‘I loved that coffee you suggested!’ Moments like that make my job really fun – opening a door to a new experience for customers.”
KJ vividly remembers her first experience as a customer at our Bend Market in 2016, when she and her husband decided to move to Central Oregon, having pulled into town late after a long day on the road.
“It was the only place that was open, and we were like starving and hungry,” she recalls. “It was so amazing to be able to come in and find healthy choices.”
She did some research and liked what she saw in us, in terms of our community commitment, eco efforts and lifestyle choices, and decided to apply for a position.
“The culture and my colleagues – the professionalism and friendliness and kindness of managers and teammates – is something that I really appreciate,” she says. “I’m very grateful to work here.”
When she’s not working or wine-tasting, KJ enjoys day trips with her husband in search of new coffee shops. They also like to go mountain biking, hiking and getting together with friends for wine tastings. After all, the next great wine or cup of coffee is just a sip away.
“The palate always wants variety. You could be drinking the best wine or coffee in the world, but you wouldn’t want to drink that every day,” she says.
KJ is happy to help her customers embark upon their own drink journeys. “Tap your local beverage steward for suggestions and have fun,” she says.