Coffee Pros on Their Best Joe
The best Denver spots to get your caffeine jolt, according to a pair of coffee shop owners (and not all of them are coffee shops).
A cup of coffee is the start of many mornings. It’s also the context for important meetings, first dates, and lazy afternoons spent with a book.
Legend has it coffee fruit was discovered after an Ethiopian goat herder noticed how the plants energized his goats. Now it’s farmed in many countries, where the combination of soil, climate, and seed combine to create a range of aromas and tastes. It’s cultivated by farmers, processed by roasters, and served by baristas—and the drink options are almost endless.
To give some pointers and help narrow down options, we talked to a few Denver industry pros to hear their takes on the best places to get coffee around town.
Kristin Lacy and Vivi Lemus will be opening Convivio Café in a few months. It will be the first bilingual, Guatemalan-inspired, women-owned coffee shop in Denver with the goal of connecting people to each other and to the coffee farmers. Lacy and Lemus met in 2015 at Re:Vision, a nonprofit in Southwest Denver. The pair quickly bonded over their shared passion for food, drink, culture, and hospitality; their experiences living in Guatemala, Lemus’ home country and where Lacy spent years doing agricultural development work; and how community connects it all.
They found it hard to narrow their choices for best Denver coffees, but stuck to the guiding principle of learning as they taste. They gravitate to coffee shops that are open and transparent about where their beans come from and who grew them, and that have an atmosphere that allows anyone to feel comfortable.
Copper Door Coffee Roasters (Denver)
“What we love about Copper Door is that it’s another woman-owned company in Denver. They are very conscientious of the farmers they support, and they put emphasis on supporting women and how their coffee is sourced. It’s also a really cool space.”—Vivi Lemus
Cultura Chocolate (Denver)
“It’s not particularly a coffee shop, but they serve amazing beverages and food, and it’s something for the community. The owner and chef is just amazing. Her chocolate is sourced ethically…There’s all sorts of options. It’s a place that champions small producers and community. It’s one of our favorite places to go and get coffee and a bite.”—Vivi Lemus
Prodigy Coffeehouse (Denver)
“They are a nonprofit coffeehouse, and they hire youth from Denver and train them in specialty coffee, hospitality, mentorship, and career readiness. We love their values and the mission. Some of their apprentices are training us about specialty coffee. It’s really fun to have teachers that are younger but more experienced in some ways.”—Kristin Lacy
The Bardo Coffee House (Denver)
“Personally, I go to Bardo a lot. It’s a really welcoming space. There are always people of radically different ages there. And there are some tables where there’s a sign that says, ‘This table is meant for sharing,’ which lets people know if you are willing to share your table. That supports the community and getting to know one another.”—Kristin Lacy
Jubilee Roasting Co. (Aurora and Denver)
“They also not only have really amazing coffee, but they welcome different groups of people, especially the first one they opened in Aurora. They went into a neighborhood that typically gets overlooked to create a gathering place. They’re also very kind and open to collaborations.”—Vivi Lemus
Table Public House (Denver)
“It’s on the South Platte River bike trail, which is one reason we love it. They’re really engaged with the community and trying to live that idea of a public house and a third place where people can gather. People can go there for coffee, or to learn about food pantries and food assistance, or to have presentations. It’s really a community-embedded coffeehouse, and it’s kid-friendly. They have a beautiful play area inside the coffeehouse. We’ve had many meetings there.” —Kristin Lacy
In addition to being highlighted by Lemus and Lacy, Copper Door Coffee Roasters’ owner Hannah Ulbrich was also one of the industry professionals we asked to share thoughts on getting coffee in the area. Ulbrich claims that she had her first cup of coffee at age two and never looked back. She studied the beverage as a barista, bar-back, and manager before becoming a roaster. She took over Copper Door in 2014, and now runs its three locations (at Denver Botanic Gardens, the Yard development, and in the Lowry neighborhood). She is also a literature professor and mother of two. Copper Door will be expanding with another location in Littleton this fall.
Deviation Distilling (Denver)
“Deviation Distilling has a Barista Series of Whisky that they use to make delicious cocktails.”
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters (multiple Denver-area locations)
“Sweet Bloom is a treat for basic black coffee that is roasted well and has lots of nuanced flavors.”
Corvus Coffee Roasters (multiple Denver-area locations)
“Corvus imports some exceptional unique coffees if you’re up for a splurge.”