Jamie Chavez wanted a job where she didn’t have to commute. The Colorado native recently had moved back to the Front Range after living in Wyoming for more than 10 years and was looking forward to living near the mountains and her family. Chavez loved making a home in Windsor but couldn’t find a job that showcased the years of experience in marketing and public relations she learned while working in the Wyoming attorney general’s office. As she sat day after day in a Fort Collins coffee and wine bar, searching for a job meeting that description, she realized she was sitting in it.
“There was something there in the bar for me no matter what time of day,” she said. “I always had food and drink options.”
Toast Coffee & Wine Bar
205 4th St., Windsor
Monday: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Chavez decided to open a similar concept shop in Windsor, enabling her to live close to where she worked and integrate into the community. After business planning for a year and a half, she opened Toast Coffee & Wine Bar in a building one block off Main Street in September 2017.
It turned out to be a challenging enterprise. Running the shop demanded 16-hour days in the redesigned space and then going home to work more — planning and ordering supplies for the business. She became pregnant with her first child soon after opening.
Hiring and training good employees was key.
“I had to recognize that they may not care about the business like I did, as the owner, but they at least cared about their job,” Chavez said.
And because the small shop required everybody to do everything — from barista to bartender to cook — along with knowing how to pass a county health inspection, she understood having good employees required thorough, lengthy training.
That combination of long hours, planning and good leadership has taken hold at Toast, Chavez believes.
“The customers are awesome — a lot are regulars,” she said. “And I’m getting to know the people in the Windsor community.”
One of the most important aspects was offering good coffee. She tried a lot of coffee but finally found a match in Denver-based Novo Coffee, a nationally recognized brand unique for roasting beans in vintage Vittoria machines. She likes the company’s relationship with their farmers, compensation methods and philosophy on environmental practices, which encompasses eliminating and reducing waste.
“A lot of coffee drinkers drink coffee to get them through the day,” she said. “To me, Novo beans have the kind of flavor that will turn a regular coffee drinker into someone who’s passionate about coffee. Once you realize there’s such a thing as good coffee, you won’t go back.”
Lattes are popular, particularly the flavored ones, and chai lattes. Toast offers seasonal flavors — peppermint was featured for December. For those who want to experience the true flavor of a bean, order a pour over. Crisp, fresh and natural, it’s the unadulterated way to drink a coffee, Chavez said.
Though Toast serves wine and beer all day long, Chavez finds there is a change in focus around 2 p.m., when those drinkers typically begin trickling in. Currently there are 15 wines and three craft beers on tap, and Chavez is increasing the lineup to soon include 25 wines. Toast offers wines with a variety of grapes and a global focus.
“I like to offer new things like a Tempranillo from Spain, a spicy, fruity Grenache, or an aromatic Viognier, grape varietals that people may not have tasted before,” she said.
Breakfast is available all day and lunch menu items start at 10:30 a.m. Toast is adding gourmet pizzas, sliders, pulled pork sandwiches and salads to the Fridays and Saturday menus. During the week, don’t miss anything with fig jam — try it with cream cheese on toast or order the prosciutto, provolone and fig panini. Kids love Mermaid Toast, a brioche spread with cream cheese in their favorite color, adorned with sprinkles. Broncos fans love it, too.
Pull up a chair and relax in the casual decor of rough-sawn wood and exposed brick walls made chic with brushed metal task lighting. Then toast the day. It’s nice to know you can toast no matter what time of day it is.
— Award-winning author Emily Kemme — Musings, recipes, and a touch of satire. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished or on Twitter @emilykemme.