Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Barista-owned Loyal Coffee soon to open

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

Not to strike too superlative a stance on it, but potentially the most fancy schmancy, cool, hip, community-building, excellence-pushing, third-wavy thing to happen to the coffee world in Colorado Springs is just weeks away from happening.

Which isn't to say we're downplaying recent haps such as Springs native Charles Babinski winning the U.S. Barista Championship, or Principal's Office barista Tyler Hill finishing strong at this years USBC, or USBC judge Carissa Niemyer co-founding the fantastic Story Coffee tiny house trailer in Acacia Park.
click to enlarge Loyal Coffee GM Tyler Hill, who's coming from the Principal's Office and filed a fine performance at this year's U.S. Barista Championship in Atlanta. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Loyal Coffee GM Tyler Hill, who's coming from the Principal's Office and filed a fine performance at this year's U.S. Barista Championship in Atlanta.

But I'm talking about the opening of Loyal Coffee at 408 S. Nevada Ave., next to the Blue Dot Place and Iron Bird Brewing and just a block down from the Indy office building. 

There's so much energy and community overlap built into this project that chances are, if you've frequented any of our fine coffee houses, you've already heard whispers of this project. Of central importance to note is the ownership structure, which includes six local baristas. 

Tyler Hill, Eric Nicol and Seth Fuller most recently hail from the Principal's Office, but collectively date back to work stints at quality spots like Colorado Coffee Merchants, R&R Coffee, and Urban Steam. Bevin Cammell also came out of CCM, currently holding court at Switchback Coffee Roasters and Fifty Fifty. And Abigail Baum and Christopher Mueller should be familiar faces from The Wild Goose Meeting House, among a couple other postings. 

click to enlarge Your first taste of Loyal Coffee can now be had at the Principal's Office, where a few of Loyal Coffee's co-owners still work. Later in the fall, they'll open their roastery at Ivywild School (downstairs below the P.O.'s patio) where you'll also be able to purchase retail beans. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Your first taste of Loyal Coffee can now be had at the Principal's Office, where a few of Loyal Coffee's co-owners still work. Later in the fall, they'll open their roastery at Ivywild School (downstairs below the P.O.'s patio) where you'll also be able to purchase retail beans.
Now, that may sound like a lot of chiefs, thereby a recipe for control struggles, tension and disaster, but in talking with Hill at the building site yesterday, I quickly gathered that's something the team has discussed at length. He says they've worked out a clear hierarchy of sorts. For example, he alone is handling media right now, while Cammell and Fuller are focusing on Loyal Coffee's new roasting and barista training facility, which will open inside the Ivywild School (under the P.O.'s patio) later this fall. He says "very specific roles" should keep things on track, plus all six plan to be present throughout the week to staff the counter at Loyal Coffee — so regular communication and troubleshooting will be a given. 

Hill says the Blue Star Group's Joseph Coleman has been a tremendous supporter of the project, in-part allowing the guys to keep their bartending and barista jobs for as long as they need to as they get Loyal Coffee up and running. But Coleman has also supported the sale of Loyal Coffee beans inside the Principal's Office (you can go buy a bag today or try a cup of their product at the counter) and basically made it clear, "whatever it takes for you guys to succeed, I'll help," says Hill. 

He also gives a shout-out to Switchback Coffee Roasters' crew, who've allowed Loyal Coffee to rent time on their roasters until the Ivywild facility gets up to speed. Hill says there's planned collaborations in the future with Switchback, and generally says "our partnership with them is stupid cool." 

As to what should make Loyal Coffee special, beyond all the seasoned talent, Hill points to a very meticulous product lineup, and of course some expensive coffee gadgetry. They'll be roasting on a 15 kilo Probat drum roaster, and pulling shots off a La Marzocco Strada EP. And like Charles Babinski at L.A.'s Go Get Em Tiger and G&B, they'll be focusing on an extremely efficient service process, to include batch brewing and highly automated systems. To be clear: That's not to be lazy or remove barista skill, but to create a super consistent product that can be quickly delivered. It's like the third-wave version of a Starbuck's mentality — in the end it's all geared toward great customer service for those on the run and those with time to linger. 
click to enlarge The business partners and crew hard at work to open sometime around early August, tentatively. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The business partners and crew hard at work to open sometime around early August, tentatively.

Loyal Coffee, recently given national attention by Sprudge, will hold a full liquor license in addition to the drips, pourovers and espresso drinks, some utilizing Madcap Coffee. Hill says "We're a coffee company first for sure, but we love our booze." 

They won't seek to compete with the wide offerings on display at the Principal's Office, but will simplify hooch offerings, he says, focusing on some classics like gin and tonics as well as digestifs and amaros and the like. 

For food offerings, Hill says Loyal Coffee will focus on the toast trend, backed by "spiritual" (as in epic-excellent) breads baked by the upcoming Lincoln School baker David McInnis. He's envisioning simple items like toast and butter or jam or housemade Nutella, but also toast sandwiches like a Caprese or cream cheese and salmon sandwich. Pastries and charcuterie items will be purveyed from elsewhere (there's no full kitchen on site, just a prep area), but Hill hasn't finalized tastings and a contract with anyone yet. He says he'll aim for local companies first, but the best product at the end of the day if it means buying from elsewhere. 

We should expect a prolonged soft opening period around early August, says Hill, prior to some sort of grand opening throwdown closer to September. Meanwhile, here's a few more pics of the progress inside the buildout:

click to enlarge When the paper comes down from the windows, Loyal Coffee will capture abundant sunlight, facing Nevada Avenue. Guests will walk a perimeter around a dining area for grab-and-go. Hill says they designed that so folks would be very visible as they move through, encouraging interactions and community building. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • When the paper comes down from the windows, Loyal Coffee will capture abundant sunlight, facing Nevada Avenue. Guests will walk a perimeter around a dining area for grab-and-go. Hill says they designed that so folks would be very visible as they move through, encouraging interactions and community building.

click to enlarge A large bay door will open up to a patio leading to the Blue Dot Place. Groups will be able to congregate around a counter with both indoor and outdoor seats. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A large bay door will open up to a patio leading to the Blue Dot Place. Groups will be able to congregate around a counter with both indoor and outdoor seats.

click to enlarge Upon entry, you'll be staring directly ahead at a shiny new La Marzocco Strada EP machine and the service counter, past some booth seating and a small retail area. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Upon entry, you'll be staring directly ahead at a shiny new La Marzocco Strada EP machine and the service counter, past some booth seating and a small retail area.


click to enlarge Guests will be able to enter on the west side of the building as well, through a parking lot. The main door faces south. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Guests will be able to enter on the west side of the building as well, through a parking lot. The main door faces south.

click to enlarge While doing demo, the group uncovered vintage signage for Rainbo bread, which they've preserved. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • While doing demo, the group uncovered vintage signage for Rainbo bread, which they've preserved.

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