They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, but there doesn’t appear to be any wisdom about whether or not you can put a gift horse in your own mouth. So long as it is coffee anyway. And in Colorado Springs, this is now a real possibility thanks to the newly-opened Gift Horse Bar & Cafe.
And this new space is a gift that keeps on giving. A multi-roaster cafe by day, Gift Horse doubles as a cocktail bar for the PM hours to quench all manner of imbibement fancies. With pastries in tow, there’s pretty much no reason to leave once you sidled up to the bar. It’s a tasty coffee for you, and a stiff drink for the horse you rode in on. (Keep the cocktail for yourself. The horse probably won’t appreciate it.)
As told to Sprudge by Joe Slivik.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Gift Horse celebrates the symbiotic relationship and craftsmanship of high level bartenders and high level baristas. Located in Colorado Springs, we are a multi-roaster program that shares ideas, concepts, and techniques from both trades. We share a space and partner with the Philanthropy Collective where profits from the space go back directly into the community of Colorado Springs. We are currently featuring Chicago’s Passion House and Missoula’s Black Coffee Roasting Co, and utilizing a two-group La Marzocco Linea AV, two Mahlkönig EK65S and one EK43.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
At the center of The Well you’ll find Gift Horse Bar & Cafe, an all-day concept serving coffee drinks, pastries, and offering a full bar from daybreak hours to sundown and beyond.
At Gift Horse, we’re just here to give you something nice–so you can kick back, relax, and entrust us to take care of you, delivering a good time, every time. We’ve set high standards for ourselves, so leave those daily anxieties at the door and come join us! You are welcome and you’re welcome.
What’s your approach to coffee?
I believe speciality coffee is in an unprecedented place and time. New challenges have arrived that can make coffee feel exclusive and unapproachable. I believe the industry spent the last two decades trying incredibly hard to legitimize itself (successfully at that), but has created a new set of hurdles that I think must be cleared to maintain sustainable growth. Similar to other specialized industries, inclusively and accessibility begin from the ground up, or in this case, at the barista level. High level staff can navigate the “coffee-nerd” and discuss brix, processing variations, and the sorts with grace, just as easily as the person who groggily walks in looking for “their caffeine fix.” Similar to a great DJ, its our job to read the room and meet people where they are at, guiding them to and through an experience intentionally. Again, that begins with a high level, highly trained, but most importantly, kind, staff. Our coffee program is designed to do all of the hard work and science on the back end, in hopes that our techniques will pique an interest after a few visits. (Why are you weighing that? What does that button do? What the hell is that thing?”)
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
A two-group Linea AV, two EK65S, and one EK43. Our multi roaster program currently features Passion House’s 501C3 backed Backline Blend for house espresso, and Lake Shore Drive for featured espresso. Similarly, house drip features Black Coffee Roasting Co. AM Blend for House drip, and Single Origin Limmu Kossa on featured drip.
How is your project considering sustainability?
Our space has spaces for compost and recycling, but I believe within the cafes control it comes down to what we source both as far as direct trade coffee goes, and other locally sourced consumables. We are using returnable gallon milk jugs from a local dairy farm, and our next round of coffees are looking to be from origins and producers with non-imperialistic and righteous virtues, while pushing the overall health and sustainability of the coffee industry into a healthier place.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We have opened our doors to the public as of March 2022.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Our Cafe and Bar is managed by Simpatico Hospitality, with help from Chicago’s Two Barspoons, and myself, who moved to Colorado Springs for consultation and management on this project from the wonderful city of Detroit. Fixer Creative designed our logo for the Bar and Cafe.