Today we want to tell you about a legit new family coffee business in the incredibly scenic mountain town of Eagle, Colorado, around a half an hour away from Vail, founded by a guy with experience at high-end coffee bars in SoCal and Denver. This is beer country, so they’ve got a truly killer sounding Colorado-forward keg program, plus tasty teas from the experts at Song Tea in San Francisco. The whole thing is super local, but unafraid to draw inspiration from great cafes across the country. To top it off, they’re roasting as well, staying close to the Rao books and rocking a brand new Probat P12.
This is Color Coffee Roasters in Eagle, Colorado.
As told to Sprudge by Charlie Gundlach of Color Coffee Roasters.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We are a brand new coffee company starting out in Eagle, Colorado. For those who don’t know, Eagle is an awesome mountain town about 30 minutes down-valley from Vail. It has access to world-class outdoor activities year-round including mountain biking, fly fishing, trail running, kayaking, snowboarding, tubing, hiking, and many more. Building a specialty coffee company in a place like Eagle has always been a dream of mine. Color is that dream being realized.
Color is a family business. It was started by me (Charlie), my Dad (Clark), and my uncle (Barry), with help from others in the family as well. We all saw the need for specialty coffee in the area about two years ago and have been working on making it happen ever since. We each have our own strengths and have all been able to contribute unique talents to the business so far.
At our new space, we will be doing roasting and retailing. I have worked at two very successful operations in the past, Portola Coffee Lab and Boxcar Coffee Roasters, and have seen this model thrive. For us, it was the only way we wanted to do this. The synergistic effect of having the two parts of the chain (roasting and coffee service) under the same roof is key to driving demand and customer engagement. I also really love roasting AND being a barista, so it’s a platform where I can do both.
In addition to coffee, we will have a few other offerings I am really excited about. We will be doing wine by the glass and will have draught beer. We are working with Crooked Stave Artisans out of Denver to get a small, but carefully curated craft beer list. We love barrel-aged sour beer so look for a bunch of those as well as some really juicy, fresh IPAs. Kegs from Melvin, Crooked Stave, Almanac, Breakside, will be the norm. One other brewery who we plan to bring in is Casey Brewing and Blending out of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. They produce world-class barrel-aged sours and fruited sours with all Colorado ingredients (including ridiculously fresh and delicious Colorado fruit). They are just starting to keg them and our proximity and friendship will allow us to access them. Stay tuned for that!
Last but certainly not least, we will be working with Song Tea & Ceramics to help us build our tea program. I am so excited to share these with people as they are crazy delicious. Peter and Justine from Song were kind enough to take us on as their first Colorado account and we can’t wait to work with them.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The space we are taking over is about 2200 square feet. We just took it over on June 1. The space was previously occupied by 7 Hermits Brewing Company, a small local brewpub. They outgrew the space and are moving about a quarter of a mile away. Currently, the space is set up great for production and retail service. It should be somewhat of an easy transition for us to move into as a lot of the work is already done. The bathrooms are there, the plumbing is there, the gas line and ventilation for the roaster is there, the kitchen sinks are there, etc. That being said, we are going to completely renovate the bar and build out a bar that is designed for coffee service. A few other cosmetic tweaks and we should be ready to roll!
What’s your approach to coffee?
We want to roast and brew the tastiest coffee we possibly can. Color is about bringing all of the current knowledge out there on roasting, espresso, brewing, and hospitality to build an extraordinary coffee experience. We don’t want to cut corners on any piece of the puzzle. I have spent the last three years trying to figure out how to do this while working at Boxcar and Portola.
On the roasting side of the equation, I learned everything I know from Jeff Duggan, Joe Harrison, and Scott Rao. These three gentlemen have taught me the ins and outs of developing a roast profile, managing a roastery, and choosing exceptional green coffees. As for the roasting itself, we will seek to fully and evenly develop our coffees, while staying away from any off “roasty” flavors, and highlighting the origin characteristics. We want to achieve the elusive, fully soluble, non-grassy, light roast. To do this, we’ll be employing the work of a refractometer and techniques laid out in Scott Rao’s roasting book. Simply put, we want to roast really sweet coffee with lots of ripe fruit, caramel, and chocolately flavors.
On the retail side, our approach is to serve world-class espresso drinks and filter coffee. We will have a simple menu but want to have seasonal beverages and crowd-pleasing drinks. We want to be able to say “yes” to requests and will do our best to accommodate our customer base. Espresso will be made on our volumetric La Marzocco and filter coffee will be made on our refurbished FETCO. We want to be quick and efficient while not slacking off on quality one iota.
On the hospitality front, I learned everything I know from Vajra Rich, Sean Gallagher, Topher Haven, and Connor Garland at Boxcar Coffee Roasters. At Boxcar, there is a huge focus on hospitality. They have done a wonderful job providing guidance to their baristas on how to make people feel welcome, keeping service consistent, and continually exceeding the expectations of their customers. It was a joy to work with them and I was sad to leave. I fully plan on bringing this focus to Color and hope to provide that same level of service to my customers.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have an awesome roster of new and used gear going into our cafe. Some of the highlights include:
-A brand new Probat P12 roaster
-A lightly used teal La Marzocco FB80 (two-group)
-A FETCO circa 2014
-A Quest M3 sample roaster from my home roasting days
–VST refractometer and baskets
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Late July–mid August.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We are excited to be working with Todd Horn from T.Horn Enterprises to get the space built out. He has done an amazing job so far helping us do this project on a tight budget and his knowledge and connections have been an immense help. Maggie Fitzgerald has done our architectural work and has done an awesome job helping us build the coffee bar of our dreams. We’re also working with a local photographer named Scott McClarrinon to get some large format photos of some local athletes doing their thing in the Colorado mountains.
What’s the address?
Photos courtesy of Charlie Gundlach.