Though named after the surrounding housing in the Lowell Development, Lofty's seems intent on justifying its moniker on its own.
A photo exhibition recapping co-owner Josh Kennard's other one-time venture — the now-defunct Rubbish Gallery, which he co-founded — currently hangs on the walls, with more exhibits to come; a fantastical comic book about the café's history is in the works (see "Flash of genius," March 3); and a gathering of minds will occur at upcoming "Lofty Idea" sessions, where Kennard hopes to bring together the city's thinkers and doers.
"I just hope to get people to talk about what they want Colorado Springs to be," he says. "I think it's important to have pride in the city that you live in; I think that's something that's very lacking in Colorado Springs."
That regional pride shows up in Kennard's wall-high brown-on-green mural depicting ex-resident Nikola Tesla kicking back with a book against a spider-web pattern, as well as his decision to source coffee from Pueblo's excellent Solar Roast Coffee and bagels from Olde World Bagel and Deli, which he co-owns with his father.
While there is a very good Americano ($1.69), other barista efforts need work: The mocha ($3.09) is more like hot chocolate, and the cappuccino ($2.49) and chai tea ($2.99) are mostly milk, with little espresso or spice flavor, respectively.
As for eats, the location lacks a proper kitchen, so a lot of the food is in sandwich form with heating achieved through microwaves, panini presses and the like. (Most of the prep work is completed at Olde World.) Overall, it all works pretty well.
The Western Eggwich ($5.08, with cheese and meat) — a breakfast-y layering of egg, sausage, onion, tomato, bell pepper, American cheese and salsa on a pepper jack bagel — is messy, but tastes fresh. An awesome lox and cream cheese bagel ($6.99) sits 4 inches thick and features tomato rounds, biting red onion and capers — definitely a regional standout. Morning disappointments include a breakfast quesadilla ($5.58), annihilated by the flavor of American cheese, and a cinnamon roll ($2.19) from Olde World that's a bit dry.
Sandwiches ($6.95) show up again for lunch, and while the inclusion of a side would be nice price-wise, they're largely fresh and filling.
Cold options include the Weber St. Club, the Taos and the Sunny. The Weber pops with sprouts, mayo and strong bacon, while the Taos and Sunny both do a great guacamole; the former also includes turkey, salsa, Swiss cheese and red onion, while the latter brings turkey, spicy brown mustard, Swiss, tomato and sprouts.
Those interested in hotter offerings should grab a great Reuben, slick with grease and tang, or the Honey Pie: an amalgamation of turkey, Bavarian ham, melted Swiss, lettuce, tomato and honey Dijon mustard that seemed more interesting than it turned out to be, tasting mostly like honey mustard.
Ultimately, the java house and café is still an idea in progress. Its coffee sourcing is commendable, but the drinks need some work. Its menu contains more than a few solid dishes, but the focus on cost-effective food also yields some pretty generic tasting items. (And American cheese is always hard to swallow.)
Kennard's goals to inspire are as laudable as they are lofty, but consistency is the key in the kitchen, and it's in somewhat short supply here.