Whether you’re brewing it over a morning campfire, using it to get through the workday, or perfecting your pour-over technique, there’s no denying that coffee has a powerful impact on the people who love it. As coffee has steadily increased in popularity, so too has its availability and presence in everyday life. It’s no secret that large-scale chain coffee shops tend to dominate the caffeine landscape, and it’s not difficult to understand why. These places not only provide their customers with a consistent and reliable caffeine fix, but they also offer an ideal place for social interaction, with comfortable seating and acoustic music in the background. As a result, coffee culture has become just as much about the social experience in a coffee house environment as the coffee beverage itself.

While the chain coffee shop can be thanked for helping to make coffee culture more mainstream, there’s another alternative that’s worth investigating.  Imagine walking into a local coffee shop, with the warm and nutty smell of freshly roasted coffee hanging in the air.  The stench of over-roasted beans is nowhere to be found. Instead of ordering your drink via smartphone app and making eye contact with no one, you order your drink from the person who roasted the beans themselves; this creative human being has a clear passion for their coffee craft and is willing to share as much information as you’d like to know. This type of experience can be found all over our region — here are a few places that we highly recommend.

Brown Dog Coffee
713 U.S. 24, Buena Vista
105 F St., Salida
browndogcoffee.com

Whether you’re looking for a quick coffee fix before heading out into the mountains, or to snag a bag of beans to brew at home, Brown Dog Coffee is worth the visit. With locations in both historic downtown Salida and Buena Vista, Brown Dog serves up a variety of coffee, breakfast, and lunch options in a cozy and family-friendly atmosphere. 

Brown Dog Coffee roasts all of their coffee weekly at their Buena Vista location, which is then available for purchase at both locations. According to their owner Jennifer Pyle, they source their coffee “from sustainable and socially responsible farms and use organic and fair trade varieties as well.” Their coffee selection includes light, medium, dark, and organic roasts, which can be purchased by the pound. If you find you really love Brown Dog’s coffee but can’t reach their location as frequently as you’d like, you can join their coffee club and have freshly roasted Brown Dog coffee beans shipped to you every month.

In addition to a great selection of coffee options, Brown Dog is known for its great breakfast and lunch menu. The more popular items range from pastries made in-house to breakfast burritos and quiche. Next time you’re setting out on an adventure in Salida or Buena Vista, be sure to check out Brown Dog coffee!

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Photo by Jesus Lozoya

Inertia Coffee
406 S. 8th St. Unit B, Colorado Springs
inertiacoffee.com

If you’re on the Westside of Colorado Springs and looking for a freshly roasted brew with a friendly and unique atmosphere, look no further than Inertia Coffee. The owners of this science and space themed coffee shop, Brian and Joanna Derheimer, are truly passionate about coffee, from roast to brew. Both veterans of the United States Navy, this husband-and-wife team began their coffee journey as roasters, selling their beans at the Old Colorado City farmers market in Bancroft Park in 2015. They quickly realized their potential and expanded their roasting business to a full coffee shop.

When you first walk into Inertia Coffee, you can’t help but notice the cool science culture and friendly staff. All of their coffee is roasted on-site and is never more than just a few weeks old. You can enjoy a coffee beverage or grab a bag of one of their nine different roasts (to include a decaf option) to brew at home. Not sure what to order? The staff will gladly help you select one of their fresh roasts for a pour-over or point you in the direction of one of their science-themed espresso specialty drinks. The Caramel Sagan, named in honor of renowned astrophysicist Carl Sagan, is a popular choice. This caramel and espresso drink is served with a “pale blue dot” of whipped cream, a nod to Sagan and his book by the same name. To top it off, the beverage is even served in a glass beaker. While you’re there, make sure to look around and see how many astronauts you can find hiding throughout the shop!

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Photo by Jesus Lozoya

Loyal Coffee
408 S. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs
loyalcoffee.co

Are you someone who likes to “geek out” over coffee? Do you have a favorite coffee region? Do you discuss coffee flavor profiles like someone might describe a glass of wine? If so, you will want to check out Loyal Coffee in downtown Colorado Springs. This barista-owned coffee shop and roastery is the embodiment of the Third Wave coffee culture, with an emphasis on bringing out the best flavors in each coffee using varied and creative roasting techniques.

Everything about Loyal Coffee feels well-appointed and polished. You certainly don’t need to be a card-carrying coffee geek to appreciate the Loyal Coffee experience. From the moment you walk in the door, the atmosphere is inviting, and the staff is eager to share their coffee knowledge and suggestions with you. While you certainly could grab a cup of coffee to go, this is the type of coffee shop that begs you to stay, read a book, or catch up with a friend. The selection of roasted beans available for purchase is varied, and often they have beans available from other local roasters as well. If a pour-over is what you’re after, they typically have a selection of three to four roast choices available. They also have a variety of classic espresso drinks and a solid cold brew as well.

Solar Roast Coffee
226 N. Main St., Pueblo
solarroast.com

If you like some creative engineering and ingenuity along with your incredibly smooth cup of coffee, you will enjoy a visit to Solar Roast in Pueblo. Solar Roast claims to be the first and only commercial solar-powered roaster in the world. Owned by Oregon-native brothers, Mark and David Harktop, Solar Roast began as a satellite dish, 100 plastic mirrors and a broccoli strainer. Yes, you read that right. To take advantage of the nearly year-round sunshine here in Southern Colorado, the Harktop brothers developed a method of roasting beans using solar concentrated energy. After a few iterations of their roaster, they’ve graduated to roof-mounted solar arrays, and the result is a highly refined and efficient method of roasting coffee beans that is also environmentally conscious.

While the creative roasting process itself is certainly a draw, what keeps locals and visitors alike coming back is the overall Solar Roast coffee shop experience. A family-run operation, Solar Roast treats their customers like old friends. A wide variety of roasts are available on-hand, ranging from light to espresso and everything in between. Solar Roast has used entirely organic and fair trade coffee beans since the beginning, and they are certified by the USDA as 100 percent organic. Whether you’re after black coffee, and espresso-based specialty drink, or some creative latte art, you can find exceptionally appealing cup of Joe at Solar Roast Coffee.

By Julie Warren