It was almost exactly 20 years ago that the owners of Colorado’s Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea shuttered their six Daily Grind Coffee Company retail cafes in order to focus full-throttle on growing the wholesale coffee roasting business.
With the roastery currently servicing roughly 350 wholesale clients and 1,500 mail-order customers, it’s safe to say they got that job done. “We’ve reached a point where we want to start sharing our story and our passion with our community again,” Vail Mountain Co-Founder Chris Chantler recently told Daily Coffee News.
And so it was that this month, in a glassed-in 1,300-square-foot portion of the 7,150-square-foot building the company owns in Minturn, Colo., the Vail Mountain Roastery Cafe soft-opened to the public. Dual Modbar pourover stations emerge from the counter upon which sits a 2-group Slayer Espresso machine, with a Mahlkonig EK43 and a Mahlkonig K30 Vario doing the grinding. A Bunn ICB brewer is on batch duty, while a pair of Bunn H5X hot water dispensers issue the ideal steeping serum for an exceptionally extensive menu of 60 whole-leaf teas.
“Our philosophy has always been that coffee and tea can co-exist,” said Chantler, noting that there are also about 35 different coffees on offer, all of which are roasted in full view of patrons on the company’s San Franciscan SF75 roaster. A four-tap Panther draft tower on the café bar dispenses nitro coffee and nitro iced tea, side by side.
“What started with the Daily Grind is going to be continued through our new café concept,” Chantler stated. “In essence, we are building a platform for our two passions: coffee and community. The café will showcase our coffee and tea, along with the cutting edge brewing equipment we sell, plus give a place for Vail locals and tourists to meet, greet, and drink some of the finest coffees and teas in Colorado.”
The brewing equipment he’s referring to to are the Slayer and the Modbar, both of which Vail Mountain distributes and services in the Vail Valley region. And while Chantler also said the company has bandied about notions of additional cafes over course of recent conversations, the plan for 2017 at least is to continue the pursuit of wholesale growth while trying to give patrons peak coffee experiences at the new cafe.
Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea is now open at 23698 US Highway 24 in Minturn, Colo.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.