Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nemo's Coffee - Guest Review

20,000 leagues of coffee


by Donita K. Paul, author of The Dragon Keeper Chronicles

Retail coffee? What is that? Entire shops dedicated to a quick cup of zooped-up caffeine or de-zooped coffee. Incorporated in places to indulge have multiplied like a virus. Thank heavens for an alternative—a place with competitive prices, and a non-manufactured, cookie-cut atmosphere.

Nemo’s Coffee is managed and owned by Tracy Anderson who has been in coffee for fifteen years! I wanted to backtrack in the conversation and ask how someone can be in coffee, but our chat barreled along and I never found out. Her coffee shop is the in place for the savvy folks of the neighborhood.

Her husband, a retired Navy officer, spent some time on submarines and taught about nuclear submarines when he wasn’t submerged in the ocean. Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea inspired the name of their shop. Their three young sons may identify more with a lost Nemo fish. All in all, it seemed like a fun name to label a family enterprise.

Walking into Nemo’s Coffee feels like stepping into a home, a home with friendly hostesses and the owner ready to tempt your palate with delicious entrees. Deep couches, clean tables, and plenty of elbow room—my kind of place. There’s no rushed, hoity-toity feeling here. Although the clientèle are here for lunch, somehow the room doesn’t exude the ambiance of the corporate coffee dens.

At Nemo’s, all the cups are different — different colors, shapes, and sizes. The chairs and tables are varied in size, shape, and even height. Seems to me like someone visited used furniture shops, then refinished and polished up some real gems.

You can go in to this almost hidden coffee shop, find a corner you love and just be. Did I mention that the strip mall Nemo’s calls home is over forty years old? You can order to go, but why leave? This is a place where you can settle in, take out your laptop, and work.

Enjoy a sandwich made by the owner. Sip on a good cup of java. Instead of substitutes, she uses naturally flavored syrups in her coffee, and real fruit in her smoothies. Organic espresso? How cool is that!

Because Mrs. Anderson is a part of the community (she’s a third generation native, and her husband is fourth generation—an extreme rarity in Colorado), she has a great deal of involvement in Colorado Springs. Local artists and children hang pictures on her walls, local musicians come to play in the background. She donates the profits of special biscotti to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. Writers groups meet here. The Anderson children hang out. Her photographer husband runs his business from there and contributes stunning pictures to the décor.

On the wall now are huge, colorful paintings by local artist, Nikki Connon. Heirloom, a back home type band that plays alternative instruments like a washboard, and standards in some circles like a banjo, are playing one evening this week.

This little coffee shop is close to the Olympic Training Center, Printer’s Parkway, an old, old (maybe even historic) golf course, and Memorial Park. Nemo’s is definitely in a part of older Colorado Springs. The location is ideal for a meeting place.

A different cup of coffee. A different type of shop. A perfect place for someone who likes different, and I do!

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