Amidst a flood of new and innovative culinary offerings, it’s exciting to find a food that revives time-honored techniques. Enter the humble bagel. This is where traditional style reigns supreme with simplicity, quality ingredients, and unparalleled texture. Lucky for Colorado Springs, we now have a company dedicated to those standards.

The Springs Bagel Company was recently established by longtime Springs resident Austin Johnson, who is passionate about providing our city with the highest quality fresh bagels. His enthusiasm for his craft is immediately apparent. His eyes twinkle the entire time he explains his process and the history of his business. His infectious joy inevitably draws me into his excitement over the bagels.  

Bagel 1


He uses only five ingredients for the bagels, including the traditional malt syrup, which lends to the chewy texture, rich caramel color, and distinctive flavor of the traditional New York-style bagels. The bagels have no preservatives. While this means they need to be either eaten or frozen within a day to experience them at their best, it also means that they have a delightfully fresh and unadulterated flavor.

With skillful precision, Austin effortlessly slices strips of dough while fielding inquiries, twirling them in mid-air to stretch them out. He takes the opportunity to showcase his technique of pulling a section from the strip and deftly twisting it around his hand, bestowing the bagels with their distinct shape. While this manual process undoubtedly demands more time than automated methods, it remains integral to Austin’s unwavering commitment to crafting bagels of unparalleled excellence. 

“Honestly, we like to call it a lost art, especially the bagel rolling,” Austin says, “But what’s different about The Springs Bagel Company is that we’re hand rolling each and every single bagel—and so, making sure that one, it’s up to our standards, and that it’s a good roll. But secondly, it’s not being compressed into the cylinder. The dough needs to be treated very delicately.” This careful process makes the finished bagel more airy and light rather than dense. Finally, he secures the ends of the dough by pressing and rolling them against the table, effectively “locking” the bagel into its signature ring shape. Austin reveals that this distinct lock is not only functional but also serves as a visual testament to the handmade nature of the bagel.

Bagel 2


Austin is largely self-taught, having developed his process through lots of research, trial and error, and practice, practice, practice. Surprisingly, he didn’t start in the food industry.  Before starting The Springs Bagel Company, Austin worked with an entrepreneurial organization, engaging with fellow visionaries. He was captivated by their spirit and the potential to have a meaningful impact on his city through business and offer exceptional products to the community.

His movements are quick and precise. Before long, he has filled the tray with the uncooked bagels. He then puts them on a rack that will eventually go in the cooler to ferment for between 24 and 48 hours. Fermentation is one of the most important steps to achieving the distinctive flavor and texture of a traditional New York-style bagel. He adds,

“You’re gonna see the blisters on the outside from fermenting in the fridge. You can always tell a bagel that’s been rushed. It doesn’t have those blisters.”

I first decided to sample the sesame bagel, enticed by Austin’s description of the enhanced flavor derived from toasting the sesame seeds before baking. True to his word, the toasted nuttiness of the sesame seeds shone through, the aroma hitting my senses as I took my first bite. The bagel’s texture was soft and fluffy on the inside. The outer layer was satisfyingly crispy. Its exterior boasted an even caramel hue and a glossy sheen from the boiled dough. As promised, the exterior had blisters from the fermentation. The bagel itself was lightly sweet and very fresh tasting. Pairing it with cream cheese created a delightful contrast, as the slight salty creaminess of the spread mingled with the sesame’s nutty umami flavor.

Next, I tried the Everything bagel, which offered a robust combination of garlic, sesame, and onion, yet managed to balance well with the bagel without overpowering it. I tried the Everything bagel on its own, relishing its distinct flavors. Then, to elevate the experience further, I added fresh slices of cherry tomatoes atop cream cheese. The combination was heaven. The interplay between the aromatic everything herb mix, the cheese’s savory creaminess, and the tomatoes’ sweet-tart burst created a symphony of flavors that tantalized my taste buds. Needless to say, I was in love. 

The Springs Bagel Company currently offers its bagels at four locations in Colorado Springs. Hold Fast Coffee Co is a convenient option for those near Academy and Montebello. Near downtown, bagel enthusiasts can visit Gift Horse Bar and Cafe at The Well on Pikes Peak or make their way to Switchback Coffee Roasters, situated off Boulder and Institute. Kairos Coffee, located near Garden of the Gods Road, is another delightful spot to enjoy them. You can find the bagels featured on their menus at each of these establishments, making it the perfect opportunity to pair them with a steaming cup of coffee.

Beginning in July, The Springs Bagel Company has exciting plans to establish a dedicated station for customized orders at Holdfast Coffee. Once the website is up and running, customers will be able to select from the company’s three current flavors: classic, sesame, or everything bagels. After placing their order, customers can swing by the stand the following day to collect a fresh bag to savor at home.

“I really want to do everything with excellence,” Austin said. “And so I want to be… I want to have the best bagel… I just want to have the best bagel. I just want to be able to create the best bagel I possibly can and see where it goes. If I have that type of mentality, where I’m so dedicated to my craft that I’m relentlessly pursuing it to continue to get better and better and better, it’s incredible to look back at the process and see how far you’ve come. So, that’s the goal, to just constantly be improving.”