Coffee culture has finally percolated its way to Colorado Springs. Having grown up on the outskirts of this awkward city, situated beneath some truly impressive peaks but eternally confused by the coexistence of drum-thumping hippies, extreme recreationalists, bible-thumping preachers and the U.S military, it seemed as though progress here would never be possible with such strong, contrasting opinions.
I no longer live here, but have come to respect it more since I left in 2010. On this particular visit I had the pleasure of meeting a friend for coffee in the industrial sector just south of downtown — an area finally seeing some badly needed urban renewal — at a hip new spot named “Urban Steam.”
Don’t let the ugly blue strip-mall facade mislead you; inside you’ll find a groovy cafe that might even please even the beardiest Portland hipster. Dual bars, an open kitchen, stools and sofa chairs strewn about the paint-splattered concrete floor contained by toothpaste-colored walls decorated with snazzy art, a dozen old welding masks strung from the ceiling; these are the design considerations that give Urban Steam its character. When I close my eyes, listen to the boisterous funky tunes that fill the air and breathe the scent of Sumatran coffee drifting from the back room roaster, both competing with a sizzling panini across the room, I can almost convince myself I’m sitting in a west coast cafe.
A line-up of at least five rotating roasts brewed as pour-over only (no traditional drip here!) piques my interest and I deviate from my usual Cafe Americano. My choice proves to be a good one; the coffee I’m served is plenty hot with a simple, well-balanced taste profile featuring subtle notes of cinnamon and chocolate. I promptly order another cup upon draining the first.
A short menu of waffles and sandwiches, full liquor selection and live music equipment tucked against the north wall suggest that Urban Steam attempts to cater to a broad clientele at a wide range of hours. I would encourage coffee-seeking souls to pay Urban Steam a visit and give it a try. Catch up with an old friend or get some work done — it’s good for either. I’m simply happy to see legitimate coffee being brewed in Colorado Springs; keep it up Urban Steam!