Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii has opened its first Colorado Springs-area location in The Shops at Meridian Ranch, in unincorporated Falcon northeast of the Springs. FACEBOOK PHOTO

Coffee retailers have made their way to the Pikes Peak region from Seattle, Oregon and even Nebraska.

Now, one of the area's newest brands has arrived from Hawaii — via suburban Denver.

Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii late last month opened its first Colorado Springs-area location in The Shops at Meridian Ranch, northeast of Meridian Road and Stapleton Drive in  unincorporated Falcon. It's the second Bad Ass Coffee in Colorado; the first opened in October in Denver.

The brand, founded in 1989 on the Big Island of Hawaii, takes its name from donkeys that gained a reputation as the "bad ass ones" because they reliably carried heavy loads of locally grown coffee beans down steep mountains, according to Bad Ass Coffee's owners.

Bad Ass Coffee made its way to the mainland when it was purchased in 1995 by a Utah businessman, who moved the company to that state. In 2019, Bad Ass Coffee was acquired by Royal Aloha Coffee Co. of Centennial, where it now has its headquarters.

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Bad Ass Coffee specializes in 100% Hawaiian coffees and its menu includes international coffees, lattes, cold brews, espressos, blended drinks and teas. Among other items, a food menu features the Aloha sandwich made with ham, eggs, Swiss cheese, pineapple and sweet barbecue sauce served on King's Hawaiian bread.

Franchisee Lee Wilwerding, a veterinarian in the Colorado Springs area for several years who founded Powers Pet Emergency Services in 2005, said he's been a fan of Hawaiian coffees for years after visiting there. 

"I love coffee and I love Hawaii and I love Hawaiian coffee," he said. "I just think it is the best coffee there is."

Competition, however, is fierce in the coffee world. Seattle-based Starbucks and Dutch Bros of Grants Pass, Ore., dominate the Springs' market, while Scooters of suburban Omaha, Neb., and Ziggi's of Longmont recently added locations in the Springs. Local favorites include Solar Roast Coffee, Story Coffee and The Perk Downtown.

Wilwerding said he's counting on the Hawaiian allure of Bad Ass Coffee to set it apart.

"Kona (an area of the Big Island) coffee is, people know it, they've heard of it," he said. "I don't know how many people actually get to experience it. Once you do, you get the smell of it, it just smells different. It's got a great rich smell to it. The taste of it is much more smooth and rich. It doesn't have the bitter (taste) that many other coffees do have."

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Wilwerding, who lives east of Black Forest in unincorporated El Paso County, opened Bad Ass Coffee in The Shops at Meridian Ranch to take advantage of the fast-growing Falcon area northeast of Colorado Springs.

Once a rural area of large lots and multi-acre ranches, Falcon over the last 30 years has become home to thousands of rooftops in developments such as Meridian Ranch and Woodmen Hills.

Walmart, Safeway, Walgreens and several other familiar retailers, along with national restaurant chains and mom-and-pop eateries, all have opened locations in Falcon. 

Bad Ass Coffee has indoor seating for about 20 people in its 1,800-square-foot storefront, Wilwerding said. There's also a patio with additional seats, though no drive-thru.

Wllwerding said he's eying possibly four Bad Ass Coffee locations in the Springs area, but wants to see how the first store pans out before he expands.

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Bad Ass Coffee now has about 20 locations nationwide and owner Royal Aloha Coffee says it  plans an aggressive expansion.

Over the last 18 months, Royal Aloha says it's sought to relaunch the brand nationally with a new logo, packaging and restaurant design.

As part of a goal to open 150 locations over the next five years, it's hired a dozen new full-time employees, while it seeks to add franchisees, move into more markets, expand online sales and establish a wholesale operation. 

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