Where to get the best coffee in Denver

April 10, 2017
J.C. Lightcap

When you think of Denver, you immediately think: coffee, right? Okay, maybe not. But if you’re a coffee aficionado, you will be pleasantly surprised. The coffee scene in Denver is on par with the beer scene since many of the coffee houses roast their own beans locally. There is a definite boom in the number of warehouses converted into roasting facilities here, and you will find a local alternative to chain coffee in almost every neighbourhood.

Need more evidence?

Copper Door

Copper Door Coffee Roasters | Photo by JC Lightcap

Denver is home to the Coffee Bazaar, where you can mingle with local roasters and taste the black gold until your hair tingles. If that’s not enough, Denver also recently hosted a coffee crawl, which, true to name, takes you from coffee shop to coffee shop, where you can chat and ask all the burning barista questions you can think of — expect to have a caffeine hangover the next day. Yes, it’s a real thing. Google it.

Take off your coat, stay a while

Local shops do a great job of creating a welcoming vibe, whether chic, hipster, or totally laid-back. For the business-minded individual, coffeehouses are THE place to meet with clients or talk shop, as well as providing a workspace for those laptop warriors who need to get out of the house. If you hang out, expect to be on a first name basis with your barista almost immediately.

Bags of coffee beans

Bags of beans at Huckleberry Roasters | Photo by JC Lightcap

Espressiato/Cortado/CappuLatta… what?

Expect traditional coffee sizes and definitions. A macchiato is not the sugar-laden, caramel-drowned drink you’re led to believe it is. In fact, it’s a shot of espresso with a splash of steamed milk. Never fear, you can always ask what’s what before you order.

Baristas love questions about the coffee, and since many shops will offer more than one bean, do not be afraid to ask their opinion on which roast will go best with your drink.

Pro tip: Do not doctor your drink before you taste it; give it a sip. You may find that you actually enjoy coffee just as it is!

Coffee workshops for the homebrew hero

Novo Coffee

Coffee tasting at Novo Coffee in Denver | Photo by JC Lightcap

For those who love to homebrew, some of these shops are offering workshops or sessions where they teach coffee 101 with homebrew tips and tricks that will take your morning coffee game to the next level. After attending a few classes myself, I quickly became the coffee guru at the office, which meant that everyone was keenly aware if I came in late.

Coffee according to JC

  • Novo: In the Highlands (43rd and Lowell), but if you’re in RiNo on Fridays, stop by before noon for a full tasting with a complimentary bag of beans.
  • Huckleberry: My local hangout on 43rd and Pecos. Huckleberry coffee is also served at PortSide on Broadway.
  • Little Owl Coffee: If you don’t have time to hoof it to RiNo or the Highlands, head to this place at 15th and Blake (take the 16th street shuttle to Blake Street and head one block down).
  • Thump: One of my favourites, and definitely a hotspot for students and laptop warriors.
Novo head roaster

Head roaster at Novo Coffee | Photo by JC Lightcap

Expect to see long, shared tables at many Denver coffee shops. Don’t be afraid to belly up next to someone else and strike up a conversation while you sip your drink of choice. The general rule is: “Headphones in, I’m working.” Otherwise mostly everyone is friendly. Spend some time getting to know Denver’s coffee scene — you may just find that you’ve been missing out. Welcome to coffee heaven!

Want to get to know Denver’s coffee scene (and more) with a local guide by your side? We’ve got you covered.