Colorado Springs has it all in the way of places to shop and eat. Chain stores pepper the city from North to South selling familiar goods like clothing and dog food and Starbucks coffee.\u00a0 But we also have the specialty boutique stores, independently-owned and locally run offering unique, high-quality goods which you cannot get anywhere else.\u00a0 I\u2019m talking about Colorado Springs-based shops like the Wimberger Bakery which bakes its finest German breads right here, or the Ranch Foods Direct meat market which offers hormone and antibiotic free, Colorado-raised beef\u2026or one of my personal favorites, Colorado Coffee Merchants which locally roasts and sells the best coffee I\u2019ve ever tasted.\r\n\r\nHOW IT ALL STARTED \r\n\r\nFounded in 2004, Colorado Coffee Merchants opened for business in a quaint stucco building on Filmore Street located in the central, and what-used-to-be more industrial part of town. The owner, Eric Umenhofer, claims his store and success was completely unintentional.\u00a0 A former firefighter, he had a passion for good, well-prepared coffee. As a result, he and some of his work friends developed a hobby of roasting their own coffee beans. \u00a0Eventually, they landed this location, a commercial building where they could install the giant roasters with tall metal stacks venting through the roof and roast to their heart\u2019s content. They had no idea this \u201chobby\u201d would draw such local interest. And before long, they had a cult following of committed coffee drinkers insisting to buy some. What began as a hobby evolved into a thriving coffee shop, offering single serves or beans to go as well as scrumptious eats from local vendors.\r\n\r\nWHAT MAKES THIS COFFEE SO GOOD?\r\n\r\nI am told it\u2019s the combination of the air roasting method plus the finest quality imported beans from trusted growers all over the world which makes this coffee taste so darn good. The coffee brand is called Umpire Estate Mountain Roasters. The beans are imported in select batches from places like Guatemala, Ethiopia, Italy, Mexico and even France.\r\n\r\nA GOOD FEELING\r\n\r\nStep inside and you\u2019re immediately warmed by familiar smiling faces, the heavenly smell of good coffee and rustic atmosphere. This local store is always buzzing with loyal customers greeted daily by the staff or owner himself. Yah, he knows everyone by name. How he remembers everyone I don\u2019t quite know. But I guarantee you\u2019ll feel welcome. And if it\u2019s roasting day, you just might leave with your clothes and hair smelling of great coffee!