As some of the more observant members of our community might have realized, we are currently in the midst of Colorado Springs’ own Craft Week. Colorado Springs Craft Week is an annual celebration of the craft culture here in our increasingly exciting city. Its purpose is to “serve as a catalyst for the craft culture in Colorado Springs through collaboration, education, celebration, and philanthropy in our community.” The week highlights the quickly growing artisanal culture here in Colorado Springs with a long list of events and specials such as local beer tastings, homebrew (beer and coffee) classes, discussions, and music.
One such event occurred in Shove Chapel on Tuesday and was an open “conversation” highlighting the value of community in coffee and beer featuring barista, preacher, and poet Tyler Hill and Colorado College student David Wright. Despite being sparsely attended, the discussion was ripe with noteworthy dialogue on the subject of beer…. and coffee.
Hill, one of the lead baristas at the Ivywild’s coffee and cocktail bar the Principle’s Office, discussed the large role coffee can play in bringing together community. Hill emphasized coffee’s “spirit of connection” and its ability to bring people together when taken seriously. Not only does it connect people in one community, such as at the local coffee shop, but also in a broader sense by connecting all involved parties including the berry growers, roasters, and marketers.
“People in the coffee industry are finally starting to care for the farmer,” said Hill. The same is beginning to hold true in the beer community as well as can be seen in locally grown hops.
Hill also emphasized the importance of top-notch quality coffee, and its infectious nature. As the standard of coffee is raised, it positively infects other sectors of the industry as well through a chain of events, which raises the quality of all aspects of the production. Not only does elevating the standard of coffee lead to a better tasting cup of coffee, it also leads to higher standards among farmers and roasters. Hill believes that high-end coffee is not just a “cool trend,” but is something capable of breeding integrity among communities and its citizens.
While Hill was referring to local, independent coffee shops such as the Principal’s Office, he was surprisingly sympathetic towards giant chains such as Starbucks and Seattle’s Best. He argues that these companies were essential in allowing for artisanal high-end coffee by first establishing the coffee culture. Without those industry heavyweights, Hill believes places like the Principal’s Office and Wild Goose might not have had the opportunity to exist. Wright agreed, saying that much of the same can be said about the microbrew culture.
As I quickly learned, senior David Wright knows his beer. Not only is he a knowledgeable source regarding artisanal beer, he’s also a recipient of a beer-themed Venture Grant. As a part of his grant entitled “Drink Local: Culture and Subculture of Colorado Microbreweries,” Wright spent blocks five and six touring around the state attending and researching nearly everything pertaining to Colorado beer. Wright drove over 1500 miles and met more people than he could count. The one caveat? He’s not even 21 yet. “I turned down a lot of free beer while at these places… I mean a lot of free beer,” says Wright. Bummer, right? Maybe not as Wright believes his lack of legal drinking age was a positive as it allowed him “to engage with people in a different way” than he would have otherwise. Wright has also written some of his own work in beer blog Focus on the Beer and Denver Off the Wagon on TRVE in Denver. Wright says he hopes to continue writing for both Focus on the Beer and Denver Off the Wagon in the future.
Whether you’re a beer junkie or a coffee addict, I urge you to visit and get to know your local craft breweries (coffee and beer). Don’t think Colorado Springs has a local coffee and beer scene like some other “hipper” cities? Think again. Just look to the Wild Goose, Poor Richards, or the Principal’s Office at Ivywild, all three of which are within a short bike ride from campus. And for beer, I urge you to look to Bristol Brewing Company at Ivywild, Trinity Brewing Company, and Manitou Brewing Company.