Our Story

Switchback Through the Years

Brandon DelGrosso and a friend decided to create Switchback Coffee Roasters in 2010, with the desire to be a catalyst for specialty coffee in Colorado Springs. From its humble beginnings of roasting coffee in a garage to establishing two successful cafes and a roastery, Switchback has had an impactful story. Throughout the entire  journey, Switchback continues to be dedicated to cultivating strong, meaningful relationships in every facet of business. 

Where it all Began

Switchback Coffee Roasters was founded in 2010 when Brandon DelGrosso moved back to Colorado Springs. Together with a friend, he began the journey of establishing a roasting company with a vision to elevate specialty coffee in the region. While there were already some great local roasters, we felt a lack of emphasis on exploring the nuances of acidity and the true potential that coffee had. 
With determination, we acquired a small eight-pound roaster and set up operations in a garage, focusing on roasting for our immediate circle of family and friends. Our dedication and commitment to quality paid off, as we received the Bronze award in the Colorado Springs Independent. The following year, we received the Silver award, and by 2013, in just our third year, we proudly achieved the Gold award.
In October 2011, our commitment to advancing coffee led us to transition from our garage to a warehouse space in old Colorado City. Then, in July 2012, we achieved a significant milestone by moving into a prominent retail space with a front-facing presence. Our primary motivation was to educate people and spread the word about the wonders of beautiful coffee. We wanted people to understand that coffee could be an absolutely delightful experience. We believed that by mastering pour-over methods, sourcing fresher and higher quality beans, anyone could savor the truly delicious flavors coffee has to offer.
Our main focus was to empower people to truly comprehend the entire coffee brewing process. We dedicated ourselves to helping them grasp the nuances of using a pour-over method, ensuring that if they chose this route, they would invest their time and attention in enjoying each cup to the fullest. Our heartfelt mission revolved around educating the community. We displayed a variety of pour-over methods, showcasing every available option at that time. When visitors stepped in, our goal was to spend quality time with them, around 30 minutes, to share valuable insights about coffee. We took pleasure in enlightening them about the roasting process, the art of using a pour-over, the significance of grind size, and other essential aspects. Our commitment was to ensure that every interaction was educational and enriching for anyone that visited us.
By December 2013, we started to outgrow our previous space and were looking for a new, more spacious location. Coincidentally, our good friends recently purchased a coffee shop known as Ravens Nest, located at 330 North Institute Street. This cafe had been a local cafe for 12 years prior to their ownership and our friends rebranded it as Fifty Fifty. In discussions with them, we saw a fantastic opportunity to create a synergy between our roastery and their cafe. The idea was to have our roastery right next to a cafe that served our coffee. With this vision in mind, we made the decision to move next door to 330 North Institute in December 2013. This move brought us closer to our friends' thriving cafe, ensuring that the experience of our coffee was even more enjoyable and seamless for our customers.
As we settled into our new space, our dedication to coffee education grew even stronger. We invested more time in helping people grasp the intricacies of various coffee beverages. Simultaneously, over the following year and a half, visitors who came to Fifty Fifty for a cup of coffee were in for a treat. They could simply step next door and immerse themselves in a wealth of profound coffee knowledge, delving into the entire roasting process and much more. By 2015, we realized the need for expansion and capacity in our roasting capabilities. We decided to make a transition from our air roaster to a more advanced drum roaster. After careful consideration, we invested in a 12-kilo Probat roaster, a choice that has stood the test of time, as it remains the same roaster we proudly use today. This upgrade allowed us to take our coffee roasting to new heights and ensure a continued commitment to delivering the finest coffee experience to our valued guests.
Our primary mission was to propel the coffee industry forward, and as part of that vision, we explored the possibility of establishing a cafe. This was a new direction for us, as we had focused solely on brewing coffee through pour-overs and similar methods in the first five years of our company. The idea of owning a cafe presented an exciting new journey. During our discussions, we engaged in conversations with the owners of the neighboring cafe, Fifty Fifty, to explore the potential for collaboration and mutual learning. In partnership with Fifty Fifty, we delved into the world of espresso and the cafe process, seeking to enhance their coffee program. Over approximately six months, the owners of Fifty Fifty proposed that if we were willing to invest such dedication and effort, we might as well consider buying the cafe outright. Eventually, in February 2015, we made the decision to become the owners of Fifty Fifty Cafe. This marked the beginning of a fresh chapter for us as Switchback Coffee Roasters, with a new roaster and a thriving cafe under our ownership. The journey ahead promised even greater growth and progress for our growing coffee company.
A significant aspect we aimed to uphold was maintaining our position as a wonderful community space, honoring the legacy of those who had come before us. In the summer of 2015, we initiated local maker markets, a novel concept for Colorado Springs at the time. These markets became a platform for local artisans and businesses to showcase their creations and offerings. Additionally, we introduced local food trucks that would park in front of our establishment, providing a delightful and diverse culinary experience for our guests. Our ultimate objective was to offer our guests access to a wide array of unique and delightful experiences, supporting local talent and fostering a vibrant community atmosphere within our space.
In March 2015, our Probat roaster finally arrived, marking a significant milestone for us. Following this development, we decided to begin participating in SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) events, taking us to Seattle, where we delved deeper into the world of coffee and its intricacies. Surprisingly, during one of our flights to Seattle, we met the Menendez family, leading to the establishment of our first farm relationship. This encounter paved the way for us to visit their Menendez Family Farm at the beginning of 2016, immersing ourselves in the fascinating seed to cup journey. The experience of witnessing the entire coffee production process firsthand was transformative. It allowed us to truly appreciate the effort and dedication required to bring that delightful cup of coffee to our customers. In addition, being able to control how our coffee was served at our cafe played a crucial role in sharing the story behind each cup. We realized that by having this control, we could serve and share more coffee while also imparting the story behind every batch. To ensure our customers understood the labor and love that went into each cup, we embarked on a journey to capture the entire coffee-making process through video and firsthand experiences. Our head roaster, a close friend, and I traveled to the farm, where we documented the entire journey. From plucking coffee cherries to tasting them, from witnessing the washing process to understanding every aspect of coffee cultivation, it was an awe-inspiring experience. Most guests who visit our cafe are unaware of the tremendous effort, taking almost 2,000 hours of work, that goes into crafting each cup of coffee. We are deeply committed to sharing this remarkable story with our guests, allowing them to savor their coffee with a newfound appreciation for the journey it has undertaken to reach their hands.
Towards the end of 2016, after the inspiring farm tour and experiencing steady growth, we decided to break down the back wall of the cafe to extend the space. As the years went by, we continued to evolve and transform. Today, you witness the result of these gradual changes and continuous improvements. We further expanded by moving our roastery offsite and ultimately creating a much larger and inviting cafe space. Throughout the history of Switchback, there have been numerous little iterations that have led to the beautiful and spacious cafe you see today. Our commitment to growth and progress has driven us to create a welcoming space for our guests, allowing them to enjoy a delightful coffee experience in a setting that embodies our passion for excellence.
In 2018, as our company continued to expand, we welcomed various talented individuals into our team. We remained committed to attending SCAA events, and with the encouragement of Sam, our team member, and Evan, our head roaster, we decided to compete in our first US Coffee Champs competition. Alongside our partners, including Sebastian, we were eager to test our coffee on the national stage. To our delight, in our debut year at the competition, Evan secured the title of second-best roaster in the entire country, while Sam earned the prestigious sixth-best Barista ranking. Sebastian's remarkable performance landed him in the 12th place. This achievement highlighted that our coffee was standing strong among the nation's finest companies. We are proud to be part of the thriving coffee community in Colorado Springs, a city that often goes unnoticed in the coffee world. Collaborating with our friends at Loyal, Holdfast, and Story, we worked together, sharing knowledge, and even participating in judging competitions together. Our collective efforts have been propelling the coffee scene forward in our beloved city. As we grow as a coffee company, we continue to focus on competitions, pushing the boundaries of coffee excellence, and forming partnerships with other cafes in the city. Together, we endeavor to make Colorado Springs a recognized hub for exceptional coffee experiences.
As the coffee scene in Colorado Springs flourished, we noticed a rising tide of appreciation for quality coffee. Amid this exciting journey, we were asked to open a second location. Although this new spot was just a mile down the road from our original location, it aligned perfectly with our value of being at the heart of communities. Embodying the next neighborhood over, we eagerly opened our Hillside location in July 2020. Situated right in the middle of the Hillside neighborhood, this area boasts a rich history and stunning aspects that contribute to the beauty of our city. Both our locations, including the Hillside spot, are located just east of downtown, reinforcing our commitment to being part of the vibrant fabric of our community.
In July 2021, we underwent a couple more remodels at our Shooks Run location. We decided to further enhance the space by opening up another wall and completing the bar. Additionally, we made significant improvements to our kitchen, allowing us to elevate our offerings to another level. As part of our growth and evolution, we relocated our Roastery to a small warehouse-type space, where we now have a separate training facility. This move allowed us to streamline our operations and focus on providing exceptional coffee experiences. Throughout these changes, our heart remained committed to expanding our cafe, creating a welcoming environment where people could savor great coffee and create meaningful connections. Our ongoing dedication to excellence drives us to keep pushing the boundaries and providing our guests with the best possible coffee experience.
Currently, we operate two locations, and while we remain open to future possibilities, our primary objective is to ensure that each spot delivers the same consistent coffee and experience. However, we also celebrate the uniqueness of each neighborhood, and we strive to create spaces that embody the distinct characteristics of their surroundings. You'll notice similarities in the plants, lighting, and ways we engage with our customers at both locations. Moreover, we serve the same high-quality coffee at both places, ensuring a consistent standard of excellence. Yet, at the same time, each location possesses its own charm, reflecting the individuality of its neighborhood. Despite these differences, we are united under one great company, committed to providing excellent coffee and fostering a sense of community in every cup.

Watch the Journey of Switchback