Bobby Grover's goal is to change the way the world thinks about coffee -- and in late August, he, along with his two partners, Zak Anderson and Jay Junkin, will do their best to make sure they succeed when they openThump Coffee
in Capitol Hill. "We're trying to educate people that coffee isn't this burnt, pungent, bitter, harsh, carbon-y substance that a lot of corporate brands are making it out to be," explains Grover. "Our mission is to make coffee that doesn't require cream or sugar."
Thump Coffee got its start in Bend, Oregon, where the partners opened a java joint and a separate roasting facility in 2009, but the Denver space, which is 3,000 square feet, will combine both under one roof -- and the Capitol Hill 'hood was the obvious choice, says Anderson, who grew up in the area and managed Govnr's Park for four years back in the '90s. "Both Jay and I have roots in Capitol Hill, which has such a great neighborhood feel, plus we just love the energy and diversity here, and this particular space is large enough that we can house both a cafe and a roasting facility," he adds.
Grover, who roasts the beans, has a physics background, and has spent the last thirteen years immersed in the coffee world, says that what separates Thump Coffee from the commercial coffee companies is a combination of several factors, including the beans themselves and the roasting processes. "We're making coffee better by trying new things and doing crazy stuff with coffee that's never been done," claims Grover, adding that his brewing techniques are top secret." I can't elaborate on my brewing techniques, but I can tell you that we do them all, and our coffees -- like wine -- have very distinct flavor profiles, and we make sure that the coffee is graded at 86 points or higher on a Q-grade scale, just like wine," he says.
Coffee beans, he adds, are seasonal, and "like all agricultural products, they're fresh crops and over time, they lose their nuances that make them so special, so my job is to sample, roast and find the best coffees I possibly can -- coffees that wow me on the table." And it's not an easy endeavor, admits Grover. "Finding great coffee beans is like looking for a needle in a haystack, and you can never guarantee that coffee beans are going to taste the same from one year to the next," he points out.
"Bobby has spent a lot of years roasting beans and playing with chemistry and flavor profiles, and what we do is a light to medium roast -- the coffee has a brown rather than black tint -- which keeps a lot of essential oils, flavors and aromas in the beans themselves, as opposed to a dark roast, which roasts a lot of the essential flavors out of the bean," explains Anderson. "We take the time to profile the beans and find the particular qualities in those beans, whether they're from Ethiopia, Africa, Indonesia, or Central or South America, and we source from the best microlots that we can and work hand-in-hand with our importers."
Anderson says, too, that the addition of Thump Coffee to the Denver market is part of a gourmet coffee culture that's already brewing. "A lot of stores are doing the same thing as we are by bringing a new surge of coffee shops to Denver. It's a lot like what's happened with the microbreweries in this city," he notes. "We feel like were bringing Denver a product that we appreciate -- this gourmet coffee roasting concept -- and the competition is wonderful, because it means we're collaboratively getting out the word about this new kind of coffee that's becoming so popular."
The quarters, currently under construction, are "rustic-contemporary," says Anderson, who exposed the building's original wood beams and brick walls. "I look at this as a coffee museum," he tells me, "where everyone who comes through the door can see the entire process, beginning from the raw materials -- the green beans coming right off the farm in burlap bags -- to the coffee being roasted, bagged and poured."
Anderson, who will also serve panini, along with breakfast dishes, desserts, quiches and pies from Humble Pie, has applied for a beer and wine license, as well, although alcohol won't be a focus. "We'll have a few wines and microbrews on tap to complement our coffee, but our main business is coffee -- that's what we do."
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Thump Coffee is slated to open the fourth week in August, and hours will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Once the partners have their liquor license, Anderson says that he'll extend the hours to 11 p.m.