By: Doug Usher

The craft scene in Northern Colorado continues to explore new directions, with one of the latest trends being the nationally exploding craft coffee scene. A new breed of coffee shops are popping up around Fort Collins, with an emphasis on elevating your cup of java to something more refined, more exciting, and definitely conversation worthy.

Harbinger Coffee was one of the first on the local scene. Around two years ago they moved from their underground kiosk to a sleek and modern storefront on the Mason Street corridor, and in just a few weeks will be opening their second location at Harmony Commons in south Fort Collins. Owner Jonathan Jarrow is finally seeing his dreams come true, as his little coffee shop expands into a multi-location retail and wholesale operation. With years of experience in large markets like Chicago, Jonathan learned roasting and brewing from some of the best in the industry, before returning home to Colorado in 2011 and taking the first steps towards launching his own brand.

Jonathan’s goal is simple enough, provide a high quality beverage experience, paired with the same level of quality in service and atmosphere. But for an industry that’s so often been associated with a grab and go mentality, changing the customer’s expectations of the experience takes time. But he says that, “as Fort Collins grows, bigger city things are becoming more normalized. People see these trends in other places, and they not only want it, they expect it here.”

The new Harmony Commons store will be nearly three times the size of the Old Town location and will feature their new, custom-made San Franciscan roaster. This will allow Harbinger to roast large batches of coffee in-house, enabling them to support the volume of a wholesale operation. This means selling their coffee direct to customers as well as to local restaurants and stores, like Revolution Artisan Pops (who make a popsicle featuring Harbinger coffee) and the soon-to-open Gold Leaf Collective.

Jonathan is very excited about the new opening. The store will stylistically echo the Old Town location, but have its own feel. “You should know you’re walking into a Harbinger store when you come in,” he says. “But it will have more texture, more brass.”

It will also have the first Slayer Steam machine in Northern Colorado. This new espresso machine allows baristas to adjust temp and even the “oomph” coming out of the steam wand, and has less water vapor, which results in a less watered down drink. Jonathan is himself a tinker, who loves to use science in his work. He custom modified the espresso machine in the Old Town store and uses tools like a refractometer to ensure his customers are getting the best cup of coffee possible.

While Harbinger doesn’t have the enormous menu offerings of certain national chains, their more focused approach still has endless room for creativity. Every season they have a featured drink, developed by the staff. Currently they are offering The Scent of Roses, made with espresso, local honey, rose water, and house-made almond-macadamia nut milk, shaken over ice and strained into a cocktail coupe. It’s refreshing, complex, nutty, floral and just slightly sweet, with a balanced finished that leaves you wondering if you ever actually enjoyed those “other” coffee drinks.

Harbinger coffee is located at 505 S Mason Street and will be opening their second location at Harmony Commons in late May.

Information: harbingercoffee.com, phone 847.274.2253.

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