The specialty coffee culture is booming in Colorado Springs. But it is about so much more than brewing a tasty cup of coffee.
Passionate roasters, café owners and baristas are making it their mission to help change the world’s perception of coffee one cup at a time. And we as consumers play a huge roll. "People don’t realize the impact they can have when they purchase coffee from cafés that support the fair treatment of farmers," says Vinnie Snyder, General Manager of Peak Place. And it all starts with the personal relationship that’s developed between coffee farmers around the world and roasters.
Building Three Coffee
Sean Buckles is the owner of Building Three Coffee, a brightly-furnished café and roastery in the Lincoln Center.
Not only do they serve ethically-grown coffee, they also visit farmers to purchase their beans directly or through a trusted importer. Forming relationships with these farmers and roasting their beans has been life- changing for Buckles. It’s enabled him to tell their story and be a link between the growers and the consumers.
Like Anny Ruth Pimental’s farm in El Salvador. Last year, he watched them harvest their coffee "cherries." He even got to carry one of their 150 pound bags over his shoulder, and he was humbled by the hours of work that went into producing their specialty beans.
Buckles is also passionate about serving the community through ministry and partners with non-profits like the Springs Rescue Mission.
Breakfast and brunch items are prepared fresh daily by men in culinary training through the Rescue Mission’s New Life addiction recovery program.
Check out the video at building3coffee.com, and you can see who’s cooking your food.
IF YOU GO: 2727 N. Cascade, 80907 / (480) 586-5731
Switchback Coffee Roasters
With its bright white walls and hanging plants, Switchback’s café is perfect for lingering over a cup of espresso. While next door at the roastery, Evan Schubarth, head roaster, samples dozens of coffees at a time to find the best cup of coffee to serve in their café.
Sometimes, finding that best cup of coffee happens through direct trade with the farmers.
"We can offer them a fairer price and the consumer a better quality cup," Schubarth says.
Through direct trade with the Menendez farm in El Salvador, Switchback has not only been able to visit the farm, but they’ve also been able to deliver a check in person to family members who live in Denver.
Unfortunately, many farmers have stopped growing coffee. The cost to produce coffee has risen, but farmers are still being paid the same world market price they have received since the seventies.
Thanks to direct trade and trusted importers, farmers are beginning to enjoy a living wage.
"And, if everyone starts buying specialty coffee for a few extra dollars a pound," Schubarth says, "we can slowly help bring up the overall economy in the world."
IF YOU GO: 330 N. Institute St., 80903 / (719) 581-9478
Loyal Coffee is one of the only coffee shops in the country that is owned and operated by six baristas.
"We care about people more than anything," says Tyler Hill, Director of Guest Experience. "We want our guests to feel seen and noticed. And coffee is the vehicle we use to bring people together."
Bright and comfortable, their café offers innovative food from Andouille Corn Chowder and Sweet Potato Hash to their Soft-Boiled Egg on Toast.
Choosing only ethically -sourced coffee, they roast their beans in the Loyal Coffee Clubhouse at Ivywild.
"Roasting is another way to build community," Hill says. "It connects us to coffee producers as well as coffee shops and homebrewers around the country through our online sales."
They even include stickers and personal notes in the boxes of coffee they send.
"People are becoming more educated about the value of specialty coffee," Hill says, "and they’re willing to pay more for it."
IF YOU GO: 408 S. Nevada, 80903 / (719) 235-5477
The Wild Goose Meeting House
Located in the heart of downtown, The Wild Goose Meeting House lives up to its name--a public space where the community can come together for amazing coffee, innovative food and spirits and live music.
They are proud to serve single origin beans, locally roasted by Building Three, Story and Hold Fast Coffee, and they take the art of creating a cup of coffee to new heights.
Check out the local latte art throwdowns. Every few months, baristas from all over Colorado gather in different coffee houses to compete.
"It’s the closest to an athletic event you’ll see in the coffee industry," says Ashton Longwell, Front of House Manager.
Their food is addictive. Like the Wild Boar Sausage and Egg Quesadillas for breakfast or the street tacos, grilled sandwiches, soups or locally- made brats for lunch or dinner.
From the moment you walk in, you will instantly feel at home.
IF YOU GO: 401 N. Tejon Street, 80903 / (719) 445-0170