From offices in Boise, Post Falls, Twin Falls, and Pocatello, TechHelp Specialists help Idaho manufacturers, food processors and entrepreneurs improve their competitiveness through continuous product and process innovation.

Idaho Coffee Company Brews Up a Modern Food Safety Program


This number had become an inside joke around the Patano household. The number represents how many cups of coffee Terry Patano has made for his wife over the last thirty years. The French Press was his gateway, this led to his curiosity to dabble with pour-overs and ceramic drippers. At some point, he added better grinders to elevate his cup of coffee. He updated to a commercial espresso machine and grinder in the kitchen, then led to advancing to a high-tech Technivorm brewer.

In 1997, Terry and his wife Rebecca were laying the groundwork for DOMA Coffee. They have known from the start, that what they do matters. From their humble beginnings in their garage to their current incarnation, they’ve kept their noses firmly pressed to the grindstone. They drew inspiration from their local surroundings and traveled to coffee-producing countries. They have surrounded themselves with community-central artists, thinkers and outdoor enthusiasts who live, work and play in the landscape of the North Idaho Panhandle.

Along with community and family values, roasting at DOMA combines science and craft. Their lead roaster, Jim Hottenroth, holds a chemistry degree, a background he puts to good use. Each small-batch is methodically trialed, tested, and recorded to create flavorful consistent roasts profiles. They are proud of their packaging, displays, and promotional work, but it’s what happens ‘off label’ that sets DOMA apart. As a third-generation family-owned business, they value inclusive decision making in day-to-day operations with staff. They maintain open communication with employees and actively empower them to contribute ideas and provide feedback. They work hard to better communities — both local and global — through philanthropy and outreach. Most importantly, they strive to improve their knowledge of the industry and business practices.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation requires every processing facility, such as DOMA to have a trained Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI) who has completed an FDA-recognized training program, DOMA searched on how to obtain this FDA-approved specialized training. Food processors must also have a food safety plan that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls to minimize or prevent identified hazards.  A proper food safety plan is a basic requirement needed to expand into national, regional, or local markets. DOMA Coffee took advantage of an opportunity to create its plan under the guidance of TechHelp’s Food Manufacturing Team.

Terry Patano discovered that a specialized PCQI two-day training course developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), was being offered by TechHelp, a member of the MEP National Network™. Participants would receive a certificate of completion directly from the FSPCA after completing the course.

Also, TechHelp was offering the grant-funded Idaho Food Safety Cooperative (IFSC) Program to assist small food manufacturers with developing the required food safety plan. TechHelp provided eligible companies a food safety gap assessment, training, and templates to create an FSMA Compliant Food Safety Plan. TechHelp Food Manufacturing Specialists also offered six hours of one-on-one consulting to help companies create their plans. The cost of the program was refunded upon completion of the program and food safety plan. The DOMA Coffee team attended both courses and was able to achieve both the required PCQI and food safety plan requirements.

In short, they’re passionate about coffee — and they’ve built a life around this passion. One thing that has remained constant for Terry is the zen-like moment each time he makes coffee in the morning: pouring the beans into the hand grinder, standing outside to grind so as not to wake anyone, filling the water kettle, and then carefully setting everything up while waiting for the water to boil. The motion, the sounds, and smells — really, the whole process — continue to captivate him to this day. With any luck, he’ll be able to almost double that number mentioned at the start. Their dedication to the craft and commitment to sustainability connects DOMA to its customers. That dedication and passion will allow them to continue roasting quality coffees for generations to come.

The timing of our completing the Food Safety program with TechHelp was really perfect in relation to this current virus situation.  We had completed much of the staff training and implementation early in the year.  We were actually in Guatemala when the pandemic started getting crazy. We were quarantined at home for 2 weeks.  Fortunately, we had our Food Safety Plan in place and were able to add a few additional policies and procedures to address the new requirements for keeping an essential business open and safe in the midst of COVID-19.  We were able to make the plan changes from home, and since we had a solid Food Safety Team trained and in place, we were able to keep the roastery running safely with no interruptions.  If we did not have the training you provided, it would have been much harder to adjust to, and document, the new reality of shared workspaces.

Jim Hottenroth, Roasting Manager