He just wanted a good cup of coffee
“I couldn't find good coffee,” is the way Toby Anderson tells it. In his quest for the perfect cup, he went a bit farther than most folks might go. He started his own
That was 10 years ago. Anderson's High Rise Coffee Roasters first operated in the Cheyenne area, off Eighth Street, then moved to Old Colorado City five years ago. The small operation, which Anderson operates with his son Andy, is located in a small, warehouse-style building at 2421 Cucharras St.
The front part is set up as a store. Customers can walk in and buy a cup of coffee or a chocolate, or pick from 35 to 40 international varieties of coffee beans to take home.
In the rear of the business is where the roasting goes on. Surrounded by burlap bags of uncooked beans, a four-motor machine that looks remarkably like a small train engine allows the Andersons to custom-roast 300 to 400 pounds of beans a month.
“Roasting is more an art than a science,” Toby Anderson said, pointing out that the effort can be impacted by such nuances as the age of the bean or even the amount of pressure in the city gas lines. “You have to stand there and be with it.”
He had some learning to do at first. If a step is overlooked in the process, smoke can billow out from the roaster. This happened once when High Rise was in the Cheyenne area, and someone called the Fire Department.
A major key to good coffee, Anderson explained, is freshness. In his opinion, coffee beans aren't good after two weeks. At High Rise, “everything we put out there is less than a week old,” he said. “We encourage people to buy less coffee (at a time) and drink it fresh.”
Because fresh beans emit gases, Anderson puts the beans he sells into bags that are made with built-in pressure-release valves. Otherwise, the bags would puff up from the gas and could even explode, he noted.
Then why is it safe to sell coffee in cans? Because coffee companies wait until the beans are several months old and fully stale before they can them, Anderson pointed out.
High Rise uses Arabica beans, which are considered higher quality - though with less caffeine - than the other main type of coffee bean, called Robusta. The Andersons also make sure to have some selections with fair-trade designations (ensuring that growers have received fair prices) and others that are certified organic.
Anderson was the owner of Wooglin's Deli (near Colorado College) when he became a coffee roaster. Until 2000, he ran both businesses, then, weary of “75-to-80- hour weeks,” he decided to sell the deli and became a roaster full time.
As one of several “micro-roasters” competing for a relatively small market in Colorado Springs, High Rise Coffee Roasters will not make him a millionaire anytime soon, Anderson freely admitted. But the Old Colorado City location has worked out well, in terms of additional space and walk-in traffic. “We've got loyal customers and a lot of small accounts,” he said. “It's built up very nicely.”
Westside Pioneer article