While on my coffee tour of Colorado Springs, I stopped by Pike’s Perk Coffee and Tea House. Like my visit to Special Grounds, it was worthy of a repeat visit. The most incredible part about Pike’s Perk is the barista engagement. My barista interaction on my first visit is what drew me back again, and I was amazed to have another incredible interaction with a different barista. It was truly wonderful to experience their set-up, talk with their baristas, and to drink drink their coffee.
The Set-up. Pike’s Perk really has everything you’d want or need in their shop. There’s plenty of space, tables, and seating. There are tables large enough to have meetings and small enough for an intimate coffee date. There are couches cozy enough to fall asleep on and chairs firm enough to sit and write at. Then they have board games and the usual free coffee house newspapers as well. For travelers, there are clean and spacious restrooms. Add to that the large coffee bar with clear ordering area, and you have the perfect layout and location. With all that goodness, it was still the employees that made Pike’s Perk exceptional.
The Baristas. My first trip in I had the mot incredible coffee and coffee business conversation with the gentleman barista working the counter and bar. He was the most engaged coffee shop employee I’ve spoken with, outside of Peixoto in Chandler, AZ. We talked espresso, drink recipes, rewards programs and the challenges of having card or a Point-Of-Sale (POS) tracking systems, single origins and blends, and what his recommendations were. But the most incredible part is how he excused himself from our conversation to welcome a new customer into the shop. When she wasn’t ready, he kept talking to me. Then he checked on her again, took her order, and continued rocking the shop. To watch him, in complete control of his environment, was a thing of beauty. No way it could be repeated, right? Wrong.
I cam back the next morning to be greeted by a different barista. She was equally engaging, willing to talk about coffee, coffee business, and this remarkable ‘Change’ banner they had set up next to the counter. When another customer walked in, you guessed it, she politely excused herself, helped him, and was willing to continue our conversation. Two different baristas, both knowledgable about coffee, the shop they worked in, and committed to providing incredible experiences. That’s unusual and awesome.
The Coffee (and food). The coffee was good. They had a cortado on the menu, which is more than most coffee shops. When I got it, it came in a regular mug without a little latte art on top. That’s okay because it tasted good, but I’ve had better cortado experiences at place like Royal Coffee in Phoenix. There, it’s served in a glass with a little leaf art on top. It’s also served a little cooler, which makes it easier to drink. Still, Pike’s Perk’s cortado was good. Their mochas were great, and their cinnamon rolls terrific.
You know how I am about cups, and these cups were blank. The service, coffee, and vibe of Pike’s Perk deserve a better paper cup presentation. Something that communicates that what’s inside the cup is as special as the artwork on the outside. Even a simple stamp would do. I know I would gladly carry a little billboard all around Colorado Springs for Pike’s Perk to let everyone know where I got my coffee from and that they should go get some as well.