When it comes to beans as well as barley, Denver is a brewing mecca. The Third Wave movement took root here long before it did in most cities beyond the coasts, and it continues apace, with roasters popping up on seemingly every block for residents who know their Chemex from their Aeropress. Though there are too many worthy examples to name in one (reasonably concise) list, these 20 shops all do right by coffee — and comfort — connoisseurs.Read More
20 Top-Tier Denver Coffee Shops
Get that caffeine fix in style
Boxcar Coffee Roasters
This roastery supplies plenty of Denver establishments, but its Boulder cafe is worth a visit. Sip some single-origin espresso or a cardamom-rose latte, enjoy a fresh-baked croissant or peach fritter from the onsite bakery, and take the time to browse — Boxcar shares its cozy Pearl Street space with wine and gourmet shop Dedalus. (A second location is set to open in the Table Mesa Shopping Center soon.)
While the flagship Sunnyside location of this well-established roastery and shop provides a quiet getaway in an artsy, colorful space with a large patio, its three siblings serve up equally good vibes along with the likes of Hulikere beans from India and orange blossom–honey lattes: Check them out in the Dairy Block development downtown as well as at 4040 Tennyson Street and 277 North Broadway.
Prodigy Coffee House
Billing itself as a “craft coffeehouse and apprenticeship,” this Elyria Swansea nonprofit shop (with a second location in Globeville) mentors young adults from the surrounding neighborhoods in the art and business of the barista. When they’re not availing themselves of the drive-thru, regulars make themselves at home in the airy, cheery space over berry lattes, white chocolate mochas, or nitro cold brews and perhaps a waffle or breakfast torta. Feel-good vibes abound.
Dandy Lion Coffee
How’s this for something different: a combination coffee and plant shop complete with an indoor greenhouse. Come for the Vietnamese coffee — chicory cold brew with condensed milk — or iced chai with toffee-nut and macadamia milk; stay for the free horticultural therapy (or purchase some foliage to go).
Rivers and Roads Coffee
This community-driven Clayton shop (with a second location in Curtis Park) does everything in-house, from roasting to baking to syrup making. While it takes its coffee seriously, it also takes fun seriously — which means the crew here is as happy to pour its guests vanilla-orange chai or chili-spiked hot chocolate with marshmallows as it is cortados to go with their loaded breakfast fries or apple-butter crumble bars.
Blue Sparrow Coffee
Blessed with courtyard and rooftop seating (as well as a satellite location on Platte Street), this bright yet intimate Certifiably Green cafe in RiNo features rotating American and international roasters in the espresso drinks and specialty coffees it lists in script on a large scroll of packing paper hung behind the counter — including Ireland’s Root & Branch and South Carolina’s JUNTO — while sourcing its pastries from nearby Hearth Bakery.
This true original, one of RiNo’s first hangouts, brews with beans from a rotating roster of more than 20 local and national outfits, including Delaware’s Brandywine Coffee Roasters and Portland, Oregon’s Roseline Coffee. Speaking of pride, it’s rightly bullish on its kitchen, which turns out specials galore — from chilaquiles with freshly fried tortilla chips to elaborate sandwiches like braised lamb–stuffed flatbread with mint gremolata, spicy garlic sauce, and pickled onions. A few blocks away, Crema Bodega awaits at Denver Central Market.
Queen City Collective Coffee
Along with its three siblings in Wheat Ridge, Broomfield, and Baker (which shares its space with Novel Strand Brewing Company), this Five Points shop turns out roasts with the most, be it El Paraíso Community Lot from Peru or Ethiopian Guji Jigesa; even its basic “cuppa brew” shines — especially alongside a Pandemic doughnut.
Glissade Coffee Company
The owner of this new Aurora roastery spent a decade learning his trade in the coffee capital of the country — Seattle — and his know-how shows in everything from pour-overs to macchiatos to nitro floats. But when extra indulgence is in order, the Glissade Chill (a shaken concoction of espresso, half-and-half, and maple and vanilla syrup) delivers, paired with a pastry from Bánh & Butter. There’s also a small selection of beers and wines just for kicks.
Little Owl Coffee
With a following as massive as its space is tiny, this boutique-chic shop in LoDo’s Sugar Cube building offers a farm-to-cup experience in the form of all the classic showcases for house roasts — cold brews, cortados, Americanos, and so on — though it also whips up seasonal delights like the Piña Collided with espresso, pineapple, and coconut. (A second location downtown and a third in LoHi share its sleek aesthetic.)
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters
Founder/co-owner Andy Sprenger is not only a two-time U.S. Brewers Cup champion but also a Q Grader, a prestigious certification akin to that of a Master Sommelier — and the service at his direct-trade roastery and tasting room (as well as its satellite cafes in Arvada and Westminster) reflects his expertise, right down to the regular schedule of tasting classes. Here’s a place to soak up knowledge as well as caffeine.
QUINCE COFFEE HOUSE
Boasting a pair of cozy parlors, porch and backyard seating, and a calendar of community events like Drag Queen Story Hour and open mic nights, this is a true coffeehouse in every sense of the word. In addition to the standard lineup of house-roasted brews, it’s known for its Venetian Cream and its Zodiac drinks: For the “charming and diplomatic” Libra, there’s a rose-vanilla latte, while spiced mocha with white chocolate awaits the “idealistic and fiery” Scorpio.
Capitol Hill’s combination coffee and cocktail bar is a stylish day-to-night hangout serving all the usual potable suspects along with quickie breakfasts and snacks. For an alternative to joe, try a Thai tea spritz or Golden Root turmeric latte; for an alternative to this location, owner Jake Soffes runs a similarly hip operation called The Wild across from Union Station.
Now with three locations, including a larger headquarters on East Colfax, Pablo’s was a local pioneer of the Third Wave movement. Opened in 2001, the flagship 6th Avenue shop is covered with street art on the outside, filled with plants on the inside, and designed all-around for slowing down and smelling the Danger Monkey (to name its most popular blend) with a friend.
Copper Door Coffee Roasters
In charmingly rustic digs, Denver’s first 100 percent woman-owned roasting company proudly emphasizes its ethos of sustainability and inclusivity while serving up nifty house blends like the Shady Lady, created specifically for cold brew, and special releases like Stranahan’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Ethiopian. It also operates in Park Hill and Littleton as well as at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
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Middle State Coffee
Black and white and green (in the form of plants) all over, this light, bright, industrial-chic Baker roastery supplies many a local cafe while welcoming its own customers with attitude-free service — the baristas can ably walk you through the offerings, be it a straight-up espresso or a Creamsicle latte. Bonus: Both it and its Highlands sibling double as bottle shops featuring natural wines.
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Vietnamese coffee — regular or topped with a fluffy egg cloud or flan — is the delectable staple of this spruce Baker shop, though the creamy, dreamy concoctions don’t end there: ube lattes, matcha-coconut cold brews, raspberry mochas, and still other specialty drinks abound, optionally accompanied by mooncakes, sesame balls, or BBQ pork buns.
Sibling to Colombian restaurant La Chiva across the street, this South Broadway cafe naturally brews with single-origin Colombian beans, yielding drinks like the Campesino spiked with panela syrup. Kick back with a cup and a snack — the pastry case is filled with the likes of pan de coco, guava empanadas, and arepas con queso — in the charming sitting room, filled with plants and flanked by a colorful mural.
Steam Espresso Bar
The line sometimes extends out the door at this Platt Park coffee shop, which is located just a couple of blocks from the Old South Pearl Street shopping and dining district. The coffee is sourced exclusively from local microroasters and there’s always a solid selection of baked goods, while the funky space is decorated with rotating artworks and garage doors that open onto a large patio. (A second location in LoHi is equally atmospheric, occupying an old firehouse.)
With locations in Arvada, the DTC, and Littleton (pictured) as well as its South Broadway flagship, this roastery showcases its beans in minimalist-chic environs that feel almost like art galleries. Nitro cold brews, seasonal tonics and lattes, and Morning Slams — a double espresso with a to-go cup of regular joe on the side — encapsulate its flair, while a full slate of single-origin options indicates the care it takes in sourcing.