Hey there, Boulder! 👋 Welcome to your Wednesday edition of BRL Today.

Today’s top story from first-time contributor Jessica Mordacq introduces you to John Imig and Kristi Persinger, the married team behind January Coffee, the newest edition to the Boulder espresso scene. We’ll take you to their new space at Market Square Shopping Center, which opened last week, to learn more about how this caffeinated couple is brewing a sense of community.

Plus the latest on the city’s changes to local gun-control measures, Boulder County Public Health’s message on at-home, low-cost air monitors, more money for the Boulder County Wildfire Fund, record heat and more.

See you on Friday!

– Jezy, managing editor

Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin, the first Latina elected to the position, offers opening remarks at Celebrando Nuestra Cultura (Celebrating Our Culture) at Frasier Retirement Community Canyons Center in Boulder on Monday, May 9, 2022. “The fact that you have folks here in your own community that want to celebrate the history, the present and the future of our Latino community together is an indicator, and so I would say ‘adelante.’ Let’s move forward together.” Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Quickly

🚩 Red Flag Warning: A familiar story — high winds and low humidity mean another Red Flag Warning for Boulder through 9 p.m. today, per NWS. Avoid any burning or outdoor activity that might cause a spark.

🌤️ Sunny and quite warm: Sunblock and water will be your friend today, with highs in the mid-80s expected under mostly sunny skies. We’ll be approaching the record high of 88, set back in 1963.

🦠 Covid-19 in the wastewater: The rise in at-home testing means positive Covid-19 cases are being underreported to the state. Wastewater testing indicates cases are at the highest levels since late January, following the Omicron peak. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations have not increased in Boulder County.

✍️ Changes to gun-control measures: The Boulder City Council refined its gun-control measures on Tuesday ahead of a public hearing on June 7. The changes include: allowing gun owners to obtain a certificate from the police department by July 1, 2022 to keep their assault weapons; prohibiting people from bringing guns in places licensed to serve alcohol; and requiring gun dealers to post signage warning of the dangers of firearms in English and Spanish. The measures were drafted by the gun-control advocacy groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety, both of which had policy advisors participating in Tuesday’s council meeting.

🗳️ Council considers even-year elections: The Boulder City Council informally voted 6-2 Tuesday to move ahead with a proposed November 2022 ballot measure to shift City Council elections from odd to even years. Those in favor highlighted that even-year elections increase turnout. Those against said that local races would get lost in the shuffle. The council will decide later this summer whether to put the measure on the ballot and when the change would take effect.

💨 PurpleAir’s air quality limitations: Boulder County Public Health released a YouTube video on Monday cautioning people around the Marshall Fire burn area about relying on at-home, low-cost air monitors — in particular those manufactured by PurpleAir — that purport to measure volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, a group of toxic chemicals produced by wildfires that includes benzene. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to a range of possible harmful health effects.

More about VOCs detection: While PurpleAir has started offering a VOCs sensor on its standard particulate matter monitor, the company “cautions its customers that its VOCs sensor is still experimental,” said Bill Hayes, the county’s air quality coordinator.  “And they do not feel confident enough yet in their VOCs readings.” Researchers at NOAA and the state health department have been working to analyze VOCs in the burn area. Health risks from these chemicals have been largely understudied after wildfires

💰 More cash for wildfire fund: Yesterday, Circle K Rocky Mountain Business Unit presented a second monetary donation to Community Foundation Boulder County, bringing the company’s total contribution of customer cash donations to the Boulder County Wildfire Fund to more than $500,000.

🚲 A wheely good deal: Community Cycles and Boulder BCycle are partnering to provide free BCycle passes to low-income workers, with special focus on those participating in low-income, affordable or subsidized housing programs. Find out who qualifies and apply here.

March for repro rights: In response to the leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that protected the right to abortion, YWCA Boulder County is hosting a march for reproductive rights on Saturday, May 14. Participants will begin gathering in front of the Boulder County Courthouse at 9 a.m.

Top Story

‘We love coffee culture’: Married team John Imig and Kristi Persinger elevate community and cut through the pretense at January Coffee

Family and friends of founders John Imig and Kristi Persinger mingled during January Coffee’s grand opening celebration in early May. Spilling down the store’s interior balcony and onto the lower level’s blue-and-white, geometric tiled floor, the excited crowd chatted over beer and lattes, surrounded by plants, colorful wall murals and camaraderie.

The scene radiated the communal spirit behind the new undertaking from married team Imig and Persinger. Their belief is simple: Coffee should be about the people who craft it, and the people who drink it. After practicing that people-centered philosophy during their combined decades behind the bar tops of specialty coffee shops on the west coast, the couple took everything they learned and put it into practice at January Coffee at 1886 30th St. 

While dozens of coffee shops line Pearl Street and beyond, the couple says it isn’t the sheer number of cafes that makes a community. For Imig and Persinger, that comes through creating an environment that helps customers feel more connected to what’s in their cup, and to each other.

“When we moved to Boulder, we knew we wanted to open a shop,” Persinger says of their relocation from Los Angeles in 2019.  “We pretty quickly recognized we didn’t feel like there was a lot of coffee community here.”

The two quickly got to work sketching out a vision for a new space that would encourage gatherings with an open floor plan and upstairs furniture that’s more reminiscent of a living room than a business. Boulder coffee shops tend to cultivate an atmosphere where college students and those who work from “home” crank out their tasks, rather than get to know those around them.

“We want this to be more of a communal space and less of ‘I’m going to January Coffee to hang out on my laptop for four hours,’” Persinger says. 

For Imig, that mission for the space reflects the underpinning philosophy that drove the pair to open January Coffee in the first place: a focus on connection and belonging, cutting through the pretense that can sometimes pervade high-end coffee bars. 

“We can talk extraction with the best of them, but we opened the shop because we love coffee culture and the community around a shop,” Imig says. 

BRL Picks

🎼 Bach in business: Boulder Bach Festival starts this week, running May 12 – 15 at First Congregational Church in downtown Boulder (1128 Pine St.). Daily lectures, masterclasses, art exhibitions and programs celebrate the life and music of the influential German composer. Details here.

🚵 Build-a-trail: Boulder Mountainbike Alliance and Open Space and Mountain Parks are hosting a trail-building day at Doudy Draw on Thursday, May 12 at 5:15 p.m. They’re looking for volunteers to help fix trail braiding and erosion caused by people circumventing puddles and mud. Register here.

💌 Stamp Out Hunger: The annual food drive presented by the National Association of Letter Carriers returns on Saturday, May 14. The event collects non-perishable food donations along postal routes. Simply leave your food items in a bag near your mailbox on Saturday before your mail carrier arrives. More details here.

🚲 Boulder by bike: Sometimes the best way to see our beautiful city is on two wheels. That’s why Boulder Walk and Bike Month is hosting a coordinated group ride on Sunday, June 5. Circle the whole town on the B-360 trail, a 24-mile loop, or explore different areas on the B-180 (12 miles). The ride begins at Valmont Park at 10 a.m., ending with an ice cream social and e-bike test rides from Tom’s Small Planet Bikes.  

Covid-19 Updates: May 11, 2022

  • 105 daily new cases (7-day avg.) Down 5% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 0 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 44% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 Where will Colorado get its much-needed moisture? “Spring snowmelt likely won’t deliver the big water supply bump the drought-stricken Colorado River and its reservoirs need, data from the latest federal river forecast shows. The May to July season is a crucial time for the river, which is replenished by snowmelt running off the mountains on the Western Slope, and the system is in need of a major moisture boost amid a 20-year drought fueled by climate change.” [CPR News]

📖 Treating long Covid in Colorado. “UCHealth in Aurora is one of dozens of health care systems nationwide that have opened new clinics to treat long COVID patients…Up to 7% of Colorado’s population is estimated to have long COVID, according to a model by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.” [Axios Denver]

ICYMI from BRL

🔥 ‘These areas are made to burn’: When it comes to the health of the forests surrounding Boulder, there is no replacement for fire. The answer to a centuries-old debate surrounding our relationship to nature could be a bitter pill for Boulder, according to OSMP Vegetation Stewardship Senior Manager Chris Wanner.

💰 Plans for the remaining cash in the Boulder County Wildfire Fund are coming into view. What will it mean for survivors? During the second public meeting regarding the dispersal of $28.5 million in earmarked Marshall Fire disaster relief, Community Foundation Boulder County CEO Tatiana Hernandez laid out details surrounding a formula for determining how funds will be divided among households.

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.