For 10 years, Brandon DelGrosso has been the owner and operator of Switchback Coffee Roasters, a local business that has ensconced itself as perhaps the preeminent coffee roaster and cafe in the Pike Peak region.
Despite the current, near cataclysmic year, DelGrosso has piloted Switchback through the tumult, quickly pivoting via innovative ideas and even adding a second location along the way. We recently sat down with him to lean how he’s handled the current climate and what a glance into the future might look like for the venerable coffee company.
Switchback’s approach to COVID was among the fastest and most innovative. Tell us about it.
I saw the writing on the wall, so I figured we’d need to innovate quickly to make it work. We were already in the midst of transitioning our “Point of Sale” system that would allow greater online/app usage for ordering. I spent two nights inputting everything into the system to be ready to go. Once we received the closure of seating indoors order, we were immediately ready to go live with online ordering.
Also, for a long time I’ve dreamed of the idea of having a local grocery as a part of our operation as we haven’t had a grocery store in the heart of downtown. I had already purchased local ingredients for myself by being a part of a local CSA and milk-share program. So we had some connections with farms/farmers and had been building that repertoire with a plan to utilize as many local ingredients as possible in our new location, especially for baking. We also had some extra refrigerators we’d bought that were waiting to go into our new location, so we just ended up bringing those to our Shooks Run location for the operation of the grocery store.
You’ve just alluded to it. Tell us about your new location in the Hillside neighborhood.
Our goal was to be in the middle of what’s already a great neighborhood. Hillside has incredible history and fantastic people. We had already been involved there for a few years primarily through sponsoring Hillside Connection, a local nonprofit who uses basketball to develop character in young people. When the opportunity to open a location in Hillside popped up, we were thrilled. Hillside hasn’t had an indoor “watering hole” gathering space for a while. So we wanted to be able to provide that space where neighbors can meet neighbors and continue to increase the assets that are already in Hillside.
Being so close to our original location drove us to dream of a new menu, which includes baking our own pastries. Not only did we want to innovate our menu, we wanted to have food that was healthy and from quality local sources. We are getting pork and flour from a small farm in the San Luis Valley, many of our greens and tomatoes from New Roots in Canon City, lettuce from an aquaponics farm in Black Forest, fruits from Paonia and cheese from northern New Mexico. The ingredients we use to make our pastries are beyond organic and the farmers do regenerative soil practices to make sure nutrients are quality and rich. One example is our Hillside breakfast sandwich that combines all of these onto a house-made English muffin, sausage, white cheddar cheese, pickled onions and arugula.
Tell us about ordering to-go and online options.
Currently, all our menu items are available to-go. While we’ve stopped online ordering, we might pick it back up this winter. You can still order your coffee-bags online and they’re available for pickup at the Shooks Run Roastery. There are also our new to-go 3/4 gallon coffee boxes.
What does the future hold for Switchback?
We are increasingly growing our local food sources and we plan to replace many of our ingredients at both locations with these sources. We are working with a local pig farmer now to replace all of our bacon and ham with high quality, grass-fed pork. We now have moved those great, high quality pastries found at Hillside up to Shooks Run as well. Also, you’ll see some seasonal menu specials throughout the year as we follow the availability of local produce. We also started selling boxes of brewed coffee: an easy way to grab a bulk of drip coffee.
Looking forward, we’re considering some patio remodel features right now, particularly to provide heating on our patio as we’ll continue to have limited seating into this winter.
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