Originally published Tuesday, July 13th 2021
Stop by, sit down, or hurry through; we’ll make sure you have something to truly enjoy.
This is the promise Harbinger Coffee makes to its customers on its website, and this is the promise that is fulfilled each time you walk into a Harbinger Coffee shop.
With two Fort Collins locations, Harbinger is a well-loved community staple of Northern Colorado. The shop started out in 2012 as a little kiosk in downtown Fort Collins, which founder Jonathan Jarrow ran as a one-man show until opening Harbinger’s first brick-and-mortar in 2015. Jonathan and his business partner Ben Kutcher then expanded the operation with the opening of their second location in 2017.
This second shop allowed Jonathan and Ben to venture into the world of roasting, which has led to their booming wholesale program and the ability to sell their own coffee online and in store. Harbinger beans are available for purchase by the bag (12oz or 5lb) as well as through a subscription program, where coffee-lovers can have a roaster’s choice bag delivered to their home either biweekly or monthly.
Even before opening that first Harbinger kiosk, Jonathan was no stranger to the coffee industry. He had been working in coffee for about 17 years, starting with a part-time barista position while he was in college and growing until he eventually became the head roaster at Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee. Jonathan’s coffee journey continued as he returned to his home of Fort Collins, where he used his industry experience and knowledge to create Harbinger and grow the shop into what it is today.
Jonathan has always wanted the emphasis to be on quality coffee and service. “Approachable” is a word he often uses to describe Harbinger’s coffee, and it’s this approachability that makes Harbinger such a special place. While the shop is known for its thoughtful pour-overs, there is nothing about Harbinger that says “pretentious.” The hospitality of the baristas is unbeatable, and the coffee is simple but high-quality, meant for anyone to enjoy.
That approachable, people-first mentality continued over the course of the past year. Of course, Harbinger did have to adjust and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, and they responded with resilience just like many others in the service industry at large. Jonathan closed both of the shops’ doors for the first month of quarantine, but gradually began to open back up and rehire his staff. The two Harbinger locations remained open for to-go only throughout quarantine, and in May 2021 began offering indoor seating again for the first time in 14 months. For Jonathan, the health and safety of people came before profit.
Jonathan has a little Gumby figurine attached to the roaster at Harbinger that was given to him by his father a few years back and serves as a visual reminder of an important concept. He refers to “Operation Gumby” as a catch-all phrase to describe flexibility in the face of challenges, and over the past year the coffee community has proven just how far it can stretch. “The community as a whole has done a fantastic job, and I’m proud of everyone who’s still here,” says Jonathan.
So what’s next for Harbinger? The shop plans to continue serving and engaging with the Northern Colorado community in meaningful ways. According to Jonathan, Harbinger is going to “keep doing what we’re doing” - and what they’ve been doing seems to be working.
Harbinger’s East Harmony Road shop currently serves as LittleJohn Produce Box Project’s Fort Collins pickup location. Jonathan first became familiar with the LittleJohn Produce Box Project through Alexandra and her involvement in the coffee industry, as both she and Jonathan served on the board of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance.