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Brewed to perfection: cafÈ a labor of love

R&R Coffee CafÈ owner and roast master Ryan Wanner greets regulars by name and provides an atmosphere some customers liken to hanging out in a friend’s living room rather than a coffee shop.”We feel that’s the best compliment we could ever get,” Wanner said.The cafÈ opened in March 2008, and Wanner has worked to provide Black Forest residents with quality coffee and homemade food that is a cut above the rest. “I’d like to believe we are starting to become more of a progressive coffee shop rather than just your typical, standard coffee bar,” he said.Wanner has been in the coffee industry since 1998. While attending the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, he worked as a food server at a Perkins restaurant. The restaurant’s assistant manager decided to open a coffee bar, and Wanner followed him.An Italian coffee representative visiting a distributor of the coffee bar gave Wanner formal Italian barista training, which included pulling the best shots, steaming milk correctly, correct portion control and every other aspect of a coffee bar.”It kind of hooked me right then and there,” Wanner said.In addition to a variety of coffee, R&R features pastries, breakfast and lunch all made from scratch with fresh ingredients.”I have full and total control and quality control over every drop of coffee that comes out of the store,” Wanner said.Attention to quality is how he wants to separate the cafÈ from the rest of the crowd. “We really try to push that, and it’s definitely fun to make sure it happens,” he said.Wanner compared the coffee industry to the complexity of the wine industry. Coffees are distinguished by characteristics such as the type of tree that grows the bean to the color of the bean to the farm where it was grown, he said.The coffees Wanner brews are from all over the world – Costa Rica to India. “I try to carry some coffees that a lot of places wouldn’t carry,” he said.Before buying R&R Coffee CafÈ, Wanner worked at Black Kettle Coffee in Black Forest until it closed. One year later, he made an offer to buy R&R, and “the rest is history,” he said.Currently living in Colorado Springs, Wanner’s goal is to become a Black Forest resident. “My heart is up here in Black Forest, and if you count the hours I’m up here versus the hours I’m at home, I live up here,” he said.Wanner does what he can to support the area. He is a member of the Black Forest Business Group and likes to work with other local businesses and community members. The cafÈ uses Black Forest honey, sells CDs of local musicians who also perform at the cafÈ and serves as a pick-up point for orders from Ranch Foods Direct.Supporting causes is also important to Wanner. A portion of the proceeds from his Wild Blue coffee blend go to the Wild Blue Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Black Forest. Wanner said he supports the facility because he likes the philosophy of the no-kill rescue.The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is also close to his heart. Wanner’s mother was diagnosed with MS in the late ’80s. He plans to sell Mama W’s coffee blend and donate a portion of the proceeds to the MS Society. “I will do anything we can do to try to stop that (MS) because I wouldn’t wish that disease on my worst enemy,” Wanner said.Black Forest is a giving community, he said. “The people are always willing to help.”Born in the Chicago suburb of Rolling Meadows, Ill., Wanner moved to Colorado Springs in 1982. The Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate said he feels fortunate to have grown up in the area. “I couldn’t ask for any better place to live, really,” he said.Wanner attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to pursue a computer science degree. He transferred to UNC with an interest in theater and graduated with a computer information systems associate’s degree from Aims Community College. Wanner had been in the food industry since he was 16 and while going to college realized his passion.”I had more fun in the restaurant industry than with computers,” he said.The coffee industry keeps Wanner on his toes. “It’s definitely a learning process each and every day,” he said.Often working 80 to 100 hours a week, the cafÈ doesn’t leave Wanner much free time. When he gets a break, he spends time with his 13-month-old daughter Emma and his wife Danielle, often hiking and biking in the mountains.Wanner has considered opening another cafÈ, but he wants to make sure it’s a good fit. “This concept doesn’t work in every spot in the Springs,” he said.Striving to keep in touch with patrons, Wanner is on Facebook and Twitter and keeps a blog. The R&R Web site also features an online store. When checking out online, a metro area shipping option is available. For $1 Wanner will deliver the coffee to the customer’s home or it can be picked up at the cafÈ.All of his employees at R&R are invested in the cafÈ’s success, “Wanner said. “Every one of them wants to see this place move forward,” he said.

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