Morning and Night, Tomboy Has the Brew for You
by Martinique Davis
Dec 08, 2005 | 502 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tomboy Coffee Roasters Adds Ale

To its Repertoire

A hand-written sign affixed to the main entrance of the Tomboy Coffee Roasters and Ale House reads:

Tomboy Coffee Roasters, open 'til noon.

Noon-3 p.m., closed for skiing/powder day.

3 p.m.-?, Tomboy Ale House open.

In only a few words, the sign sums up an idyllic day in the life of a typical Telluride local; that is, stumble to the coffee shop in the morning for an early caffeine fix, then head to the lifts for a few hours on the slopes, and finally finish the day off with a beer (or two) at a local watering hole. Repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and... it's a full winter schedule for a Telluride ski bum.

Telluride Coffee Roasters owner, R.C. Gartrell, reconciled many a Tellurider's two great loves - coffee and beer, with some outdoor adventure wedged in between consumption of the two - when he added the Ale House operation to his existing Tomboy Coffee Roasters enterprise earlier this winter. With the extended hours of operation, it is now possible to get a steaming cup of locally roasted java and a full-of-character brew, all at the same counter.

"I wanted to try and ramp up the night-time thing by bringing in the beer, so that this can be more of an all-day place rather than just a morning place," says Gartrell of Tomboy's recent expansion, which he says was precipitated by customers' requests for an all-day locale for caffeine consumption.

While Tomboy Coffee Roasters has become a favorite morning hangout since the business opened in the just-off main street space (behind the Excelsior Café) over a year ago, the operation's new hops- and malt-infused extended hours have quickly brought about a new kind of ambiance after dark.

"This is definitely not your typical bar," says Gartrell of the Tomboy Ale House, with its eclectic collection of retro-style armchairs and sofas that lend it a relaxed atmosphere.

The Ale House's beer menu reflects Gartrell's own confessed love of beer (matched only by his love of coffee), combining exotic, hard-to-find brands with traditional brewery fare. Such beer-drinkers' stand-bys as Pabst Blue Ribbon and Tecate hold court on the menu next to more out of the ordinary selections, like Racer 5 I.P.A., Endinger Hefe-Weisen Dark and Velting Pilsner. Beer connoisseurs will likely be intrigued when they discover they can order a Chimay Ale (considered by many to be one of the finest) or a Meantime London brew (which became available in the U.S. a mere two months ago) or, for the truly evolved, a 40-oz. Old English.

"I wanted to do something no one else was doing," Gartrell says. He adds that he plans to bring in more live music, especially on-tour bands, that will set up on the space's newly restored stage. Pizza from the kitchen of next-door-neighbor Excelsior will also be available to order at Tomboy.

Gartrell, who is originally from the Pacific Northwest, is a veteran of the coffee industry. Prior to moving to Telluride almost two years ago, Gartrell owned and operated four different coffee shops in Portland, Ore., and has been "in coffee" for much of the last 17 years. Gartrell is a one-man coffee roasting show, utilizing old fashioned, Italian drum style roasting for all Tomboy Coffee Roasters blends.

"There are no computer chips involved," Gartrell says, explaining that his method of roasting coffee relies primarily on sight and smell.

His roasting operations have so far been confined to a space in Ilium, but Gartrell has plans to move them in-house. Currently, Tomboy Coffee Roasters blends are served at Between the Covers, the Espresso Bar at Chair 8, the Window at Chair 7, Hotel Telluride, and at Alpine Lodging locales; plans to expand the wholesale coffee operation are ongoing.
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