November 30, 2017

Grind Rewind - A New Cafe for the valley's largest roastery

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Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea’s new Minturn shop.


Back in the mid-1980s, just as Starbucks was becoming a thing, Chris Chantler and Craig Arseneau met while working in the hotel industry in Boston and decided to open a chain of espresso bars. Until the young entrepreneurs took a ski vacation in Vail, the only question was where.

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Craig Arseneau and Chris Chantler.


“We looked around and nobody was doing the specialty coffee thing, so we quit our jobs, moved out here, and opened the Daily Grind,” Chantler recalls. “We didn’t know very much about coffee, but we knew about how to build community, and we knew about service.”

That original Bridge Street café quickly expanded to six locations in the valley and Denver. By 1997, as Starbucks was opening stores in Japan, Chantler and Arseneau divested themselves of their mini retail empire to focus on their Minturn roastery. Twenty years later, 350 wholesale clients (from local restaurants to national grocery chains like Kroger and 1,500 mail-order customers), Chantler and Arseneau decided they missed the brick-and-mortar side of the business. Over the summer, they carved 1,300 square feet from their 7,000-square-foot roastery (showcased behind glass like a brewery at the center of a pub) and opened an upscale café for coffee aficionados.

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The daily grind.


“It’s always been pure; it’s been simple,” says Arseneau. “When you manufacture something, when you cook and create, and then you serve it to the community, it’s all-encompassing, and it becomes part of your life.”

And coffee flows in your veins.

Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea

23698 US Highway 6 & 24, Minturn, 970-827-4008;

After Two Decades, Vail Mountain Coffee Makes Elevated Return to Retail - Roast Magazine "Daily Coffee News"

It was almost exactly 20 years ago that the owners of Colorado’s Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea shuttered their six Daily Grind Coffee Company retail cafes in order to focus full-throttle on growing the wholesale coffee roasting business.


With the roastery currently servicing roughly 350 wholesale clients and 1,500 mail-order customers, it’s safe to say they got that job done. “We’ve reached a point where we want to start sharing our story and our passion with our community again,” Vail Mountain Co-Founder Chris Chantler recently told Daily Coffee News.

And so it was that this month, in a glassed-in 1,300-square-foot portion of the 7,150-square-foot building the company owns in Minturn, Colo., the Vail Mountain Roastery Cafe soft-opened to the public. Dual Modbar pourover stations emerge from the counter upon which sits a 2-group Slayer Espresso machine, with a Mahlkonig EK43 and a Mahlkonig K30 Vario doing the grinding. A Bunn ICB brewer is on batch duty, while a pair of Bunn H5X hot water dispensers issue the ideal steeping serum for an exceptionally extensive menu of 60 whole-leaf teas.

“Our philosophy has always been that coffee and tea can co-exist,” said Chantler, noting that there are also about 35 different coffees on offer, all of which are roasted in full view of patrons on the company’s San Franciscan SF75 roaster. A four-tap Panther draft tower on the café bar dispenses nitro coffee and nitro iced tea, side by side.

“What started with the Daily Grind is going to be continued through our new café concept,” Chantler stated. “In essence, we are building a platform for our two passions: coffee and community. The café will showcase our coffee and tea, along with the cutting edge brewing equipment we sell, plus give a place for Vail locals and tourists to meet, greet, and drink some of the finest coffees and teas in Colorado.”

The brewing equipment he’s referring to to are the Slayer and the Modbar, both of which Vail Mountain distributes and services in the Vail Valley region. And while Chantler also said the company has bandied about notions of additional cafes over course of recent conversations, the plan for 2017 at least is to continue the pursuit of wholesale growth while trying to give patrons peak coffee experiences at the new cafe.

Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea is now open at 23698 US Highway 24 in Minturn, Colo.

VMCT Launches Nitro Cold Brew Coffee on Tap in Colorado

Chris Chantler and Craig Arseneau of Vail Mountain Coffee stand with their kegs of Nitro Cold Brew CoffeeVail Mountain Coffee and Tea (VMCT), one of the highest altitude coffee roasters in the world, is bringing “Craft Draft Nitro Cold Brew” coffee to Colorado.

Craig Arseneau and Chris Chantler, co-founders of VMCT, have invested time and effort to change the way their customers enjoy iced coffee.

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Fuel Your Adventure®

Whether it's biking trails or hiking trails, running or training, your most recent endurance adventure through the backcountry undoubtedly includes water and, or an electrolyte drink to fuel your exercise. However, you can't forget to fuel your adventure with your favorite cup of coffee from Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea. For years, studies have shown caffeine should not be discounted in relation to athletic performance. In fact, caffeine is shown to improve endurance, reduce the amount of perceived pain mentally, and reduce post-exercise soreness.

A study in the American College of Sports Medicine showed ingesting caffeine one hour prior to prolonged exercises, such as running and cycling, increased performance. Although there are some positive effects of short-term exercise, evidence supports that caffeine is most useful in endurance events. A cup of coffee increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, and the muscles use those fats for fuel and leave carbohydrates for later when the athlete's need for endurance kicks in. In sum, the next time you're headed out for a half-day of mountain biking in the hills, plan to have your coffee close to your start time.

Mentally, caffeine can also help you to put in more effort while exercising. When reaching the end of your workout caffeine can help the athlete to invest mentally more in the physical effort. One study found athletes who did not consume caffeine reached exhaustion quicker than those who did.

Not only can it help with mentally motivating you through your workout, but caffeine is also found to reduce post-exercise soreness. In fact, between one and two cups of coffee can reduce your post-workout pain by nearly 50%. A 2003 study showed caffeine reduced thigh pain during moderate-intensity cycling. It's time to skip the ibuprofen and brew a fresh pot of coffee.

Here in Colorado, being active out in the beautiful backcountry isn't just a hobby but a way of life. Make Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea a part of it . Greet a fall sunrise by sipping on a favorite light, medium or dark roast and head off on your fueled adventure.

Coop Cafisur: Colombian Coffee

Find the specialty taste of coffee grown in the Colombian Andes at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea in Minturn, Colorado.

A Word on Colombian coffee from Tolima, Colombia

Nestled in southwestern Colombia is the department of Tolima, a region rich with a variety of mountain ranges, rivers, and valleys. In South of Tolima, there is the fertile and complex soil of volcanic origin. This region produces some of the finest coffee in all of Colombia, and the Cup of Excellence has often been awarded to local coffee farmers. By and large the region has been unable to develop a strategy to bring its coffee to the rest of the world. Therefore, many of those who love specialty Colombian coffee have missed out on what this region has to offer.

In 1965, the Cooperativa de Caficultores del Sur del Tolima, CAFISUR, was created. Cafisur is located in the department of Tolima, in the central part of the Columbian Andes. The Cooperative includes over 20,000 farmers from the region, and 80,000 hectares in coffee crops and has produced an estimated 450,000 bags of coffee.

Cafisur is also invested in the education of coffee growing for Tolima's future economy. An example initiative, "Schools and Coffee," worked with 8th and 9th-grade children of farmers to train them on everything related to coffee production including technology, marketing, and financing.

The Cooperative's Colombian coffee is exceptionally high quality. The altitude of 1.65 meters and the volcanic soil creates a uniqueness that not many coffees attain. Varietals include 50% Caturra, 30% Castillo, and 20% Columbian.

The Cafisur Cooperative exports its coffee around the world, but most importantly to Minturn, Colorado, just outside of Vail, where we at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea can bring it to you.

Fall in Vail

The leaves are turning hues of yellow and soft gold and the heat from the summer sun has eased off leaving a crisp coolness in the air. There's a chill in the breeze that encourages sweaters and gloves, all while cupping mugs of hot drinks. Although we here at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea in Minturn, Colorado relished a summer of camping beside mountain lakes, biking along dusty trails and moonlit campfires, fall is here. It's time to slow our steps as the seasons amble toward winter.

Camping in fall is especially lovely, as the backcountry in and around Vail shifts its palette and shadows grow longer. Hearty dinners and breakfasts are essential for energy, and so are our beverages. A stout beer is easy to pack and enjoy, but what about first thing in the morning when the air is crisp, and your eyes aren't ready for the day? A cup of coffee, the aromas alone sharpen your mind, and the warmth softens any stiffness from your sleep on the ground.

Camp coffee should not have to be an adventure, let the day that lies before you be the adventure and keep your coffee predictably reliable. Something to look forward to as the sun rises. Here's how you do it:

Selecting the Right Roast for You

Pick a roast that suits your camp taste buds. Keep in mind what you want while out among the trees might differ from at home. At Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea, the Costa Rican blend is a smooth, light blend. The Reserva Tarrazu is grown at altitudes of over 3500 feet, and that plus the rich, wet soil gives the beans bright acidity and a nutty finish. If you prefer a dark roast, try our French Roast, which never has the dark bitterness roast often has and, instead is full-bodied and smooth. For a taste somewhere in between those two, try the Meadow Mountain blend with its carmely taste and hybrid of Central American and Vienna roast blends.


There are a few ways to brew those beans into the perfect camp coffee. Brew the coffee in advance, at home. Use the Toddy cold brew system, an efficient coffee maker that brews with 67% less acid. Store your brew in a bottle, pack and shuttle it into camp. You can easily heat this up on a camp stove first thing in the morning.

If you would rather brew the coffee there at camp, another option is to pack a shatterproof French press. The Bodum Chambord French Press is made from borosilicate glass, plastic, chrome- and gold-plated silicone. Also, the Bodum Coffee Maker is another press that's an excellent way to enjoy camp coffee. No need to brew at home first, simply bring one of the presses with you and your choice of coarsely ground coffee and you'll have a perfect cup of Joe within 3-4 minutes.

Camp coffee doesn't have to be tasteless muck you stomach only to get your caffeine high. You can easily brew a cup just as delicious as what you would at home in your kitchen. Or perhaps while enjoyed in the middle of the backcountry and surrounded by fresh air, it's even more delicious.