- Griffin Swartzell
- Third Space has started down the path to glory.
Of course every bar, restaurant and coffee shop wants to be your third space when you aren't at work or home, which explains why the sociological term has enjoyed such wide usage. But not everyone has the chutzpah to actually brand around the concept, as Fayetteville, Arkansas native and pastor Roland Smith has done with Third Space Coffee.
Upon entry into the former Silver Pond Chinese location, one might first presume that "third space" refers to the abundance of open floor area, that unoccupied by the coffee counter (something like 30 cavernous feet from the door) and plenty but not enough tables to give the room a fully inhabited feel. Picture how you feel studying at a small table inside a big library: sound bounces and everyone's listening, even if they aren't.
Those entwined with our local coffee scene might also find symbolism in this as a "third space" just a stone's throw from both Pikes Perk Coffee & Tea House and Peak Place. They're already vying for the neighborhood's attention, partly including that of the young hipster Christian set, who'll surely feel less tempted than us to plug their ears to keep out the wholesome braying of the musical Once.
On that note, the term might also apply to Third Space as not just an eat and drink spot, but a religious gathering place — table talkers promote 6 p.m. Saturday Ecclesia Colorado Springs congregation. What the name does not equate to, at least not quite yet, is a home to third wave mastery and the coaxing of coffee beans to their most divine potential.
Third Space does source from good roasters and takes more than ample time to prepare drinks, but many of those felt they could benefit from a steadier barista hand, which could mean anything from grind adjustments to ideal extraction times. For instance, Fayetteville's Onyx Coffee Lab's Ethiopian Hambela Buku presented much brighter as a pour-over, with blueberry aromas and nuance, than did its Sugar Skull Blend, which played sour and charred, more astringent than rich with advertised chocolate flavors.
Building3's Long Cap roast informs a proficient traditional macchiato here, marked by just a wisp of cream. But a SwitchBack bean — decaffeinated not through the more common swiss water process, but the sugar cane ethyl acetate "natural decaffeination" method — fails to show much depth or character in either a latte or less-diluted cappuccino, leaving milk the dominant flavor.
And for all the thought that's gone into presentations like a mini waffle served alongside a demitasse spoon and carafe with pourovers, nobody's noticed that the sticky, cookie-dough-tasting treat (also dense and a little undercooked) tears off the underlying paper napkin, rendering much of it inedible.
Largely unremarkable quiche and breakfast burritos are overpriced for their diminutive proportions, despite gourmet ingredients like smoked gouda and Brie cheeses. A gluten-free breakfast sandwich shows with telltale gluey bread and bland eggs and sausage. Panini sandwiches with chips are perfectly serviceable, but only as memorable as Dr. Smoothie purée smoothies, served widely. A Denver company called Share Good Foods provides much of the fare, including well-made GF truffle brownies, laced with a nice salt bite.
All of this might be just fine if it's more the spacious work or worship space one primarily seeks in a "third space." But for those searching for top-notch third-wave coffee fare, the mission continues.