Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but will too many baristas spoil the brew? Not if they’re Loyal.
A brand new roasting company based in Colorado Springs, Colo., called Loyal Coffee is poised to open its flagship café, with an ownership team of six talented baristas. All but one has engaged in competitions, and each has his or her department of specialization in running the business, though they all will rub elbows at some point behind the bar.
“Everybody will still be in the café,” Loyal Coffee General Manager Tyler Hill told Daily Coffee News about the all-star partnership that will converge behind a three-group La Marzocco Strada EP, a Modbar pourover station, an EK43 for brew grinding and a pair of Simonelli Mythos grinders for espresso. “Every one will have bar shifts, and everybody has opinions and gets to chitchat from time to time, but we all live within our certain roles as well.”
Number-crunching co-director of operations Eric Nichol, barista trainer/production roaster/director of education Seth Fuller and Hill first came together at the craft coffee and spirits café The Principal’s Office, which is now the sole inaugural wholesale account of Loyal Coffee.
The other co-director of operations, Abigail Baum, and brand-sculpting director of visuals and design, Christopher Mueller, worked together at The Wild Goose Meeting House, and head roaster Bevin Cammel, a New Zealander by origin, started off at the Wellington, New Zealand-based Coffee Supreme and has more recently held court at Switchback Coffee Roasters in Colorado Springs.
Cammel’s will be the executive hands on the Loyal 5-kilo Probat P5, through which tumbles greens sourced mostly through Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders for now, though Cammel looks forward to incorporating coffees from Café Imports and Nordic Approach soon.
“It’s always tough as a start-up business. You know you want to buy the best coffee that you can,” Cammel told Daily Coffee News, adding that so far it’s been more a pleasure than a struggle. “We’ve had a lot of fun using our knowledge of quality in green coffee to find really unique stuff to balance quality with uniqueness and creativity.”
Craft-wise, Cammel characterizes the Loyal team’s collaborative vision as one that accommodates a discerning consumer on a post-acid-craze level.
“We certainly have an industry here in Colorado Springs that’s not demanding coffee of the heavy citrus-forward or the super bright coffee of three years ago,” said Cammel. “I would describe our coffee as certainly influenced by people we love — Madcap, Sweet Bloom — certainly looking for a lot of sweetness and a great aroma. Really approachable coffee, super sweet, super yum. Complex, but at the same time, easy to drink.”
While Loyal has only just barely cleared the starting gates in pursuit of their goals for growth and expansion, Cammel nevertheless anticipates the need to step up to a larger roaster within the first year.
“You can have someone 40 hours a week roasting nonstop, but you’re kind of chaining talent to the roaster at that point. I’m not a huge advocate of running a roaster at full capacity. I find there can be a little bit of inconsistency with roasting as well as the personal life of the roaster,” said Cammel. “I’m a roaster myself, but my heart aches when I can’t get in front of a customer and sell somebody a coffee.”
It’s exactly that kind of tender-heartedness and respect for a diverse working experience that runs through the core of Loyal’s progressive employment ethos. With six owners, each specializing in a different back-of-the-house department while also taking pleasure on the front lines of customer service and at the creative final link of coffee’s stewardship chain, it would seem at the onset that they’ve got all the bases covered, although there will of course eventually come additional employees that aren’t owners.
“That’s to be determined,” said Hill to the possibility of future rank-and-file workers also having a path within Loyal to partial ownership, collective-style. “I think we are really interested in being very innovative as far as that goes. I would say that as we open maybe a new café or other bars or things like that, or as we continue to grow our wholesale, we are very interested in being a company that advocates for our team members.”
Hill figured that while he’d hope that each new worker is one with aspirations within the coffee industry, not every future employee will have, or be required to have the desire to pursue an ownership commitment with Loyal Coffee.
“They may want to do something else. They may want to work in marketing or design,” said Hill. “All of these things we can advocate for them, and given them the vein to learn and work.”
According to Hill, Loyal looks forward to bringing on additional dreamers and creating a fertile atmosphere that inspires and fulfills them — an ethos that’s central to the very reason this talented and capable gang of six chose to plant its flag in Colorado Springs in the first place, and not a trendier coffee city like San Francisco or Portland.
“We’re going to water the grass where we are. We’re not going to complain that another city is cooler or better or something. We want to help contribute to the place we find ourselves in,” said Hill. “I think the same thing goes for our team. You may be working at the bar for a little while, but how can we water the grass where you’re standing, and help you be the best ‘you’ you can be, and grow and really become a great professional?”
While recognizing that on the face of it, Loyal Coffee is obviously best at growing coffee professionals, they’re also hopeful to help workers develop the same universally valuable skills and knowledge to succeed in any industry.
“There’s also an aspect of being a life professional, being good at life,” said Hill. “Whether that’s us helping you learn how to invest your money well, raise money for your own business like we have, learn how to invest in retirement, providing good healthcare, these kinds of things. Being successful in your life is more than just running a good business or making great coffee. It’s maintaining great relationships. I think through working at a full scale coffee company, you can learn a lot of those things.”
Some things, meanwhile, are certainly unique to working at a coffee company, particularly one at an altitude of over 6,000 feet above sea level, where water boils at around 200-202 degrees. Cammel describes the improvement of a Modbar pourover faucet over a handheld kettle as “priceless.”
“We struggle a lot with water temperature here,” said Cammel. “You have such an inconsistency at this altitude with your water temperature dropping so rapidly, that maintaining an average high temperature — when water comes out of the Modbar, it’s 198 degrees the entire time, perfectly consistent.”
Cammel added, “We would love for the Brewer’s Cup to come by us, for sure.”
The 1,000-square-foot Loyal Coffee roastery is currently up and roasting for wholesale and online retail from inside the Ivywild School at 1604 S Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, in a century-old building that recently reopened to house a brewery, a bakery, a whiskey distiller’s public tasting room and The Principal’s Office coffee shop. The 1,600-square-foot Loyal Coffee café is opening very soon at 408 S. Nevada Ave.