Where: 932 Jersey St., Denver, CO
Pro: Copper Door Coffee offers a wide range of roasts either in-store or via delivery from its website. Try the dark roasts for a break from the typical craft coffee offerings.
Con: The shop’s location is in an odd spot. It is embedded in a strip mall off Colorado Blvd. and it might be hard to find for some.
With new shops popping up every day, it seems that locally roasted coffee could become the new norm in Denver. For every handful of Starbucks locations, there’s probably a neighborhood shop close by where you can get a cup of coffee made from natively cooked beans. There’s even a whole subculture too embodied in the barista community – young, dapper looking males will usually greet you at most coffee shop counters. Walk into any coffee shop within urban Denver and you’re likely to see what we mean. But beyond the recent openings and a cultish culture, how do we know that this movement is here to stay? Is it just a fad or will others adopt it too? Because mustaches and button-ups won’t always be cool. Enter Hannah Ulbrich of Copper Door Coffee; one sign that the craft coffee scene might stick around longer than we think.
Ulbrich, a young woman with a shade of hair that reflects the name of the company, is the only woman in Denver to solely own a roasting operation. She explained that most roasters are men or married couples. “There’s not a lot of female roasters on the backend and none of them own their own company.” Ulbrich stated with pride.
It is easy to tell she is passionate about her work. This passion, especially from a roaster who is breaking the mold, is a signifier that a movement for craft coffee will continue to expand. Hopefully she’ll make it easier for the next woman roaster because her journey wasn’t always a clear path.
“He kept telling me no.”
“He kept telling me no,” Ulbrich explained of the former owner of Copper Door. He was her neighbor and the reason why she initially became interested in roasting, but he wasn’t accepting of the idea at first. “I would always buy my coffee from him and it was the best coffee I’d ever had … I asked him to teach me how to roast and he kept saying no.”
Despite these initial refusals Ulbrich pushed on in hopes of breaking into coffee roasting. She explained that eventually she became very good friends with her neighbor and convinced him to let her see how it’s done. After learning the ropes (she explained he was very supportive during this process), she was even able to buy the business from him. “He mentioned to me he wanted to sell and he already had a buyer in mind,” she said. “I told him to sell it to me instead. He said, ‘okay, you have till the end of the week to figure it out.'”
Now three years later, Ulbrich grew the company from out of the garage and into the big leagues. Copper Door expanded its services to online wholesale as well as opening its first store just several weeks ago. It provides coffee for local restaurants and offices alike and is even the best-selling coffee at Marczyk Fine Foods.
Ulbrich hopes to continue to expand services and provide locally roasted coffee to more people in Denver. She believes that the craft coffee scene will continue to grow with her. “There’s definitely a craft industry. More and more people are taking risks,” she said. “There’s a lot of garage roasters, too. It has really become a passion for a lot of people.”
303, like Ulbrich, is excited to to see who joins in on the movement. If you want to know more about craft coffee in Denver, make sure to follow “The Grind,” our weekly coffee review. We’ll keep you up-to-date on everything caffeine-related in our fine city.
Photography by Roman Tafoya for 303 Magazine.