By Matt Minich
Jonathan S. Jarrow makes one hell of a cup of coffee.
Jarrow has spent the last eight years mastering all things ground and roasted. His kitchen is filled with top-of-the-line gizmos for brewing the perfect cup of joe, and the walls are decorated with awards he’s won as a competitive barista and roaster. He doesn’t just read books about the chemistry behind coffee, he knows the authors of those books personally. He uses a spectrometer to measure the darkness of each cup of coffee he makes. He subscribes to Barista Magazine.
So if anyone in Fort Collins is qualified to open a new kind of coffee shop, it’s Jarrow. And that’s exactly what he plans to do with Harbinger Coffee.
Somewhere in Old Town next month, Harbinger Coffee will officially open as a kiosk. The stand won’t offer the myriad combinations of milk, sugar, and espresso that are the mainstays of coffee shops everywhere. Instead, Jarrow will serve up black coffee, brewed by the cup to his exacting standards.
And those standards are no joke. In the experience of this journalist, a cup of coffee produced by Jarrow’s methods is one of the most balanced, robust hot drinks a person can enjoy. It’s a work of real craftsmanship, and one Jarrow clearly takes very seriously.
“I’m the last step in the chain now,” he said, listing off every professional to lay hands on the beans, from coffee farmers to roasters. “And I can make or break this cup of coffee.”
But no matter how good the coffee is, Jarrow is taking a gamble with Harbinger. Whether his bets pay off will depend not just on his abilities as a businessman, but on the priorities of the Fort Collins community.
“I like the idea of people going out of their way to have something special, something good,” Jarrow said. That’s the same thinking behind the craft beer movement, which successfully turned consumer curiosity into a thriving culture of beer.
As he sees it, that success is the result of not only great craftsmanship but also a creative culture. He comes to Fort Collins after several years in Chicago – the top city in the country for coffee drinkers – where he said he learned to appreciate the benefits of an urban lifestyle.
“The closer people are together, the richer they are,” he said. “You put people closer together and they exchange ideas.”
Jarrow sees that urban ethic taking root in Fort Collins’ Old Town, and hopes to share his own passion with his neighbors in January through the Harbinger kiosk.
“I don’t want you to come in and have to prove what you know about coffee,” he said. “I want to grab your hand and frolic with you through the meadows of great coffee.”
Find out more about Harbinger Coffee at harbingercoffee.com.