People Behind the Brew



Leslie Hunt

Leslie's Montana Coffee Traders journey began in 1993 when she moved to Whitefish, instantly feeling welcomed by the community and her colleagues. Fascinated by the opportunity to experience coffee from all over the world in northwest Montana, her love for coffee became a driving passion. 

Starting as a coffee bagger in production, then working up to becoming production manager, Leslie has witnessed remarkable growth throughout her career at Montana Coffee Traders. Over the past three decades, Leslie has embraced diverse roles in many departments throughout the company including production, outside sales and cafes.

One of the aspects Leslie cherishes about Montana Coffee Traders is the exceptional work/life balance it affords. This flexibility allows her to raise her children and pursue her passion for skiing and snowboarding. She also appreciates the genuine care and value Montana Coffee Traders places on its employees, creating a supportive and fulfilling work environment.

Leslie and the entire team at Montana Coffee Traders understand that providing a delicious cup of coffee is just the beginning. They endeavor to create a community space where people from all walks of life can connect, share and find genuine human interactions. Leslie believes that being in the service industry is more than just a job – it's about making a positive difference in people's everyday lives and creating a space for authentic human interaction.

Green coffee buyer

Alison Chopp

Alison Chopp

Our professional cupper, Alison, is an emissary of taste and sustainability. From the misty hills of Ethiopia to the sun-kissed plantations of Costa Rica, she treads the paths that intertwine with the lives of growers. Her travels unveil the intricacies of coffee farming, as she witnesses firsthand the delicate dance between the coffee farmer and the land.

It takes more than passion; it takes the pursuit of excellence. Alison has undergone rigorous training and sensory exploration, delving deep into the nuances that define each coffee. With a finely tuned palate and a profound appreciation for the art of cupping, she ensures that every small-batch and craft roast carries the stamp of perfection. Engaging with Alison is like chatting with an old friend over a cup of coffee.

She effortlessly bridges the gap between expertise and relatability, making coffee accessible to everyone she encounters. Alison breaks down complex coffee concepts into relatable terms that resonate with all levels of coffee enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned coffee aficionado or just beginning your journey, Alison’s approachability and genuine interest in connecting with people make her the ideal guide. She eagerly shares her knowledge and encourages exploration allowing you to fully embrace the captivating world of coffee.



Zach Farnes

Originally from Tacoma, Washington, Zach Farnes had a deep connection with Montana Coffee Traders long before he joined the team. As a trained chef, he met his future wife, who is from Whitefish, in San Francisco, where they bonded over their shared love for coffee and exploration of new coffee gems in the city. Their visits to Montana always included a stop at Montana Coffee Traders igniting Zach's passion for the company.

After living in a few cities, Zach and his wife decided to make Whitefish home. Zach began his journey at Montana Coffee Traders, exploring different positions within the company. When an opportunity arose to become a roaster, Zach's curiosity, culinary expertise and dedication to the craft led him to embrace the role. Within a short time, he became the Head Roaster, responsible for bringing out the best flavors in each batch through his skillful artistry.

With a delicate touch, Zach handled single origin coffees with the utmost care, comparing it to working with food, where precise temperature control is crucial. For Zach, the beauty of roasting coffee comes from the combination of the science and art behind that perfectly roasted bean. 

Montana Coffee Traders nurtures his curiosity through the variety of annual professional development opportunities, which allows for continued connection to the broader coffee community.

For Zach, coffee is more than just a beverage; it is a culinary experience. His background in the culinary world taught him the power of coffee in connecting people and enhancing moments of appreciation. Zach's journey through the art of roasting embodies his unwavering commitment to showcasing the true essence of every coffee bean.