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Local coffee roasters find Traction, Forge ahead

Longmont’s Traction Coffee wants to produce high-quality coffee without the pretension, according to co-owners Mike Murfitt and Shawn Neer, who said they just want to make excellent coffee for excellent people in Longmont and around the world.

Longmont’s Traction Coffee wants to produce high-quality coffee without the pretension, according to co-owners Mike Murfitt and Shawn Neer, who said they just want to make excellent coffee for excellent people in Longmont and around the world.

“We want to be a part of a working class community, we are working class,” Murfitt said. “We want to represent our company in the best way possible and let the coffee speak for itself.”

The coffee comes from all over the world, roasted on a lone San Franciscan machine in an industrial building near Third Avenue and Martin Street. 

Murfitt and Neer were old friends who happened to run into each other a few years ago, crossing paths on a mountain bike trail. A few beers later, the conversation turned toward coffee. Murfitt was running the Hotbox Roasters brand for Oskar Blues at the time and Neer was looking to source and roast his own coffee for personal use.

“(Murfitt) and I are the same. Once we find what we like, it takes over our lives,” Neer said. “Biking and coffee are what we love, so it's what we live and breathe.”

The company launched in Sept. 2018, totally self-funded. 

The duo managed to find a space to rent in Lyons and immediately started selling coffee around the country through friends in the mountain biking and BMX communities, they said. Traction Coffee quickly outgrew the Lyons space, so they found a new home in Longmont.

A little over three years later, Murfitt and Neer are expanding beyond the beans and into coffee equipment with the manual, non-electric Espresso Forge.

Murfitt said they ship coffee to at least 30 countries around the world these days, reaching as far as villages in Indonesia. To keep up local interest, Neer and Murfitt started offering free delivery to anyone in Longmont during the early days of the pandemic, a practice they still keep up with today.

With a global reach, third-generation Longmonter Murfitt has started to look closer to home again. At the moment, Traction Coffee is only available through The Roost, Bricks Retail and Pistachio’s Cafe in Longmont.

“We’re trying to just hang out with Longmont,” Neer said. “We have such a cool community here. I’ve lived in a lot of places and I love Longmont. I’m going to be here for a long time.”

“As much as we all love money, that’s not the driving factor here,” Murfitt said. “We want to put out things we enjoy, whether that’s our coffee, our mugs or the Espresso Forge.”

Along with the coffee beans, Murfitt and Neer enlisted some friends for a new venture — the Espresso Forge. A unique take on a manual espresso press, the Espresso Forge is milled and machined in the same shop that the pair roasts the coffee. The only piece not made in Longmont is the pressure gauge, Neer said.

“It’s a true buy-it-for-life product, there are no real wear items,” Neer said. “We’re proud to say it will probably out-live us.”

The manual espresso press is made from stainless 304 steel and cut to fit all commercial espresso baskets and tampers, Neer said. An added benefit of the manual press, Murfitt added, is that there are no disposable or consumable parts like filters with the product, making it ecologically friendly and well-suited to outdoor excursions.

The press has capabilities that rival high-end commercial espresso machines, according to Murfitt, while being ultimately portable and requiring less maintenance over all. 

“A big focus from the beginning of Traction Coffee has been community through collaboration,” Murfitt said. “Now that we have a second business (in the Espresso Forge) .., we can really drive that idea.”

Murfitt said it was difficult to get friendly with other roasters, but the Espresso Forge is helping them build new relationships in the local coffee world. Whereas before roasters might feel intimidated, Murfitt explained, now they can offer the Espresso Forge as a non-competitive tool that brings something that benefits everyone.

Between the Espresso Forge and Traction Coffee, Murfitt and Neer have their hands full but have no plans to hit the brakes, they said. 

“We reached out globally but we’re excited to bring it home to nourish the community we live in,” Neer said.


 
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