Greeley coffee lovers can rejoice.
Yet another coffee shop has come to town, and another one is on its way.
This comes after two earlier this year, all riding a wave of independent brew shops that have opened since the infamous closure of Starbucks at Westlake Shopping Center in 2011 and longtime coffee shop Margie’s Java Joint shortly thereafter.
“Coffee is a very popular thing right now,” said Bob Hutson, co-owner of Aunt Helen’s Coffee, which opened last spring the new 800 on 8th building in downtown Greeley. “Coffee today has gone somewhere it’s never been.”
Indeed, coffee drinking has reached some interesting new heights to lure the independent coffee shops to the area.
According to the National Coffee Association, 67 percent of Americans now drink coffee daily. That’s up from 57 percent last year.
As a result, smaller, independent franchisers are seeing opportunity.
Bob Smith, formerly of Salida, just opened Continuum Coffee in St. Michael’s Square after an entire career of teaching. The Hutsons opened in the spring along with Roots Coffee at 808 22nd St. Adriana and Jose Ramirez just opened Café Aroma in the Riverside Library in Evans.
Next year, the Human Bean, which has a drive-thru coffee chain throughout northern Colorado, plans to open a shop at St. Michaels and Windsor.
“It’s almost like the craft beer industry has done,” said Dan Cobble, who opened Keynote Coffee at 802 9th St. two years ago. “There are definitely a lot more coffee shops in town, and it’s kind of about time for it.”
Seven years ago, the loss of Starbucks sent shockwaves through Greeley’s coffee-drinking masses.
It was just one shop but a popular one. One that seemed busy. All the time.
Art and Karla Long, from southern Colorado, had been looking for a coffee shop to run in Greeley about that same time. The doors weren’t closed long enough at Starbucks, 2030 35th Ave., for anyone to remember it was closed before the Longs took over.
Since then, The Blue Mug swooped in on two other closing shops in Greeley and have slowly grown after building upon their predecessors’ success.
As Cobble said, the specialization of coffee is now rivaling that of the craft beer industry, and every shop has its niche. The Longs boast roasting their own coffee; Smith at Continuum is pretty proud of his custom-built espresso machine and Fort Collins — roasted beans.
T.J. Wilson, owner of John Galt Coffee Co., 709 16th St., started his shop five years ago, promising pour-overs and manual brews instead of large-batch coffee brewing. That niche has carried him through these five years. Cobble at Keynote also has a pour-over coffee.
“I read something a few years ago, someone said we’re still in the infancy as far as espresso goes,” Wilson said. “We don’t understand the full potential of what we can do with it.
“That’s exciting to me. It means I’m part of an industry that has forward momentum.”
Based on the National Coffee Association survey, clearly, more people are finding adventure in coffee — music to Greeley’s shop owners’ ears. Past-day consumption of gourmet coffee-based beverages jumped to 24 percent from 18 percent last year, which the association states is the largest increase in its survey history. When the survey was taken earlier this year, 59 percent of consumers in America had consumed a gourmet beverage in the past day.
“People’s tastes and flavor preferences have changed quite a bit over the last few years,” said Hutson of Aunt Helen’s. “People expect bigger, better and more. What we’re seeing in the coffee roasting industry is they’d done an exceptional job of bringing in great coffee to the market and that lends itself to people’s changing palates.”
And, almost out of necessity, the offering for such coffees is growing, as seen recently in Greeley. Some coffee shops are starting to see “shop hopping” among groups to taste the different kinds of coffee offered throughout the city.
“It’s fun to see,” Cobble said. “Especially in Colorado, we’re such beer drinkers that when the coffee scene meets up with that, people get really enthusiastic and want to try new things.”
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