Remembering an Industry Icon

The View

Born December 20, 1951 in Boston, John recently passed away at age 65 in his home in San Francisco of heart failure.

John led an illustrious life as coffee professional, independent real estate professional, intrepid businessman, investor, art collector, and photographer. In 1990, John joined Knutsen Coffees, Ltd., in San Francisco, where he met the love of his life, Erna Knutsen, and pursued a 20-year career as CFO until 2010. Knutsen Coffees shuttered their doors in 2014 with an announcement at the annual SCAA Exposition as John’s wife, Erna received the lifetime achievement award. Most recently, John was responsible for the launch of the Erna Knutsen line of single serve coffees in Taiwan.

Those who knew John, knew him to be opinionated, boisterous, intelligent and a personality within the specialty coffee world himself, who per his wife Erna, “never liked to pick up the phone”.

Among his many achievements in specialty coffee, John served as an SCAA Board Director from 1998 – 2000, representing Knutsen Coffees at the Roasters Guild as sponsor and participant on the cupping team. John once appeared with Erna in a fund-raising calendar completely nude. John was known as a no-nonsense person with a very quick wit and dry sense of humor and heart as large as his girth.

An avid traveler, John loved to travel with Erna, not only in coffee producing countries but also credited to more than 15 cruises and motor home adventures with dear friends.

John’s love for Erna is possibly the best characteristic for which he is remembered. Assisting Erna everywhere, with care and devotion.

John leaves behind many friends which include many luminaries in the coffee world. John is survived by his wife, Erna Knutsen, 95, who resides in San Francisco.

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