King of the coffee house

Longtime resident takes over popular Main Street spot

Sharon King is the new owner of Spruce Tree Espresso House. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Sharon King is the new owner of Spruce Tree Espresso House.

Spruce Tree Coffee House has finally sold. Sharon King, long-time Spruce Tree barista, is now holding the torch.

The lavender house tightly tucked away on Main Street has been a happy sight for coffee drinkers since 2006. A little over a year on the market, and previous owner Charlie Campbell has found his predecessor.

With the sale the name has changed to Spruce Tree Espresso House.

King, a former Cortez and Mancos business owner, has been an employee at Spruce Tree for six years. What started as a part-time, temporary position, turned into a permanent place with the Spruce Tree family. King and Campbell began discussing the possibility of King purchasing the business a while back, but she chose to go back to college instead.

But when the coffee house was still up for grabs, King decided the time was right.

"It was a natural transition to buy," King said. "I think Charlie (Campbell) wanted someone to keep the flavor and style of the place in which he started it. And I've been here all along."

Over a sit-down and a handshake, they struck a deal. On February 15, King took over.

"I'm excited but there is so much that goes into switching ownership," King explained. "He (Campbell) stayed on board after I came on in case I had any questions. He's been very gracious about the whole thing."

The first major change she inducted was a revitalization of the name - from coffee house to espresso house. As an avid espresso drinker, King knows espresso.

Which was one reason why she brought in a new espresso machine and a new brand of expresso.

"Charlie (Campbell) had a very dark, bold espresso that he was using and I brought in a lighter, fruitier one for people who like to just drink espresso."

Thus far, those are the only differences. She also tweaked the signage to fit her new name and upgraded kitchen equipment. King claims she is not as handy as Campbell so new changes and additions in the kitchen were necessary. She also hired more staff, brought in a few new tables and put a fresh coat of paint on the interior.

"Customers like how the place is," King said. "They notice everything that I do, so changes are subtle. I've tried really hard not to change the atmosphere."

She did, however, drop the beer and wine license from her establishment. She wants to be able to hire a younger staff, some who might need summer jobs, and she plans on bringing her daughters in to work as well. King spends her time on the floor, conversing with customers and overseeing the workflow. She currently has a staff of seven. One of her goals for the espresso house, is to accommodate people as quickly as possible.

"If we get busy I don't want any lines," she said. "As business increases staff will increase. I want to make us fast so we can get people in and out of here."

To also keep things running efficiently, King wants to transform the upstairs room to a conference area for non-profit organizations and boards who use Spruce Tree as a meeting spot. Fifteen to 20 people can take up her entire floor and she worries about that taking away space from other customers.

"It's great and wonderful that they choose this place to meet so I want to keep them in a more comfortable space."

King fits right in with the folks at Spruce Tree. Her familiar face helped with the business transition. She has always been a business owner - rarely someone's employee. In this case, both have paid off.

Other changes to Spruce Tree Espresso House may occur in mid-April or May. Patrons can look forward to a front patio and back patio expansion, and some fresh landscaping. King will extend the operating hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, all year round.

rachels@cortezjournal.com