What: Fun and original menu items made for the community by the community
Where: 1201 Santa Fe dr., Suite A, Denver
Neighborhood: Art District on Sante Fe
When: Monday- Saturday 6 a.m.- 9 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Pro: Kaladi Bros. coffee and inventive cocktails served in a cozy atmosphere
Con: The food menu isn’t its strongest aspect
While exploring Denver the city can appear to be less of a large metropolis and more of a patchwork quilt of diverse and unique neighborhoods. While many of these neighborhoods have strong communities and individual style, the Art District on Sante Fe is especially characterized by its vibrant artistic culture. On this stretch of North Sante Fe drive, you can find over 100 art galleries that regularly collaborate with restaurants and other businesses in the area to establish events such as the First Friday Art Walk. However, area residents Mark Landman and Megyn Rodgers noticed there was something missing…
“We didn’t just want to be another coffee shop,” explained Landman, “There are a lot of great coffee shops in Denver; we didn’t just want to be another one…” Landman and his co-owner, Rodgers, decided their goal was to open a place that would serve as the community epicenter. The result was The Molecule Effect, a lounge serving both coffee and alcohol.”We focused on the wine and the spirits side as much as we do the coffee side, but we’re not a bar either.”Molecule, despite having a specific category, likes to welcome people to come in and relax for as long as they’d like. Landman and Rodgers said they would see a table with some people drinking coffee and some drinking wine or a cocktail, even at 9 a.m. Creating this type of atmosphere is reflected in its name, The Molecule Effect. “It’s [about] creating chemistry and the effects that all of our chemistry has on each other. You meet each other, and you like each other and that’s the molecules in your body reacting and affecting you,” explains Landman. “Drinking wine, drinking caffeine,” adds Rodgers, as Landman agrees and continues, “That’s the molecules in those drinks affecting you.”
“We take locally sourced to the extreme,” said Landman of their suppliers, “we call it neighborhood sourced. Our furthest supplier is in Englewood.” Molecule serves locally-owned Rising Sun vodka as well as tequila from Proximus, which is only a few blocks away, in addition to tequila and bourbon from Mile High Spirits. Beer is provided from Renegade, and Strange Craft, both located around the corner, and the food offered is either made in-house or by Share Good Foods. Landman and Rodgers are very passionate about choosing which local businesses to use. “We’ve gone to other restaurants, coffee shops, and done research on local distributors or local bakeries. We’ll go there, meet them, test it, see if we love it. It’s an ongoing thing that we love to do,” said Rodgers.
“All of our cocktails are very special to us, so they were either created by someone that lives in the neighborhood or inspired by someone that works in this neighborhood,” said Landman, describing Jim’s Manhattan, and then pointing across the street to the house where Jim lives. Other neighborhood namesakes include the CrossFit gym that inspired The Art DeCO a refreshing combination of plum iced tea, tequila, and mint. Another house favorite is the Espresso Martini is a delicious combination of Kahlua, vodka, and an actual espresso shot. It’s strong, but the espresso counteracts the alcohol nicely.
The coffee options are just as delicious as the cocktails. Molecule serves Kaladi Bros. coffee, a Denver staple, and its baristas are all trained by Kaladi’s to ensure that the coffee is done right. This includes Landman and Rodgers themselves. “We’re serious about it,” said Landman about their commitment to learning how to make espresso-based drinks, “We weren’t going to own our own coffee shop, but not know [anything] about owning a coffee shop. That wouldn’t be fair to anybody.” As it is, the coffee is delicious, and the cocktails are maybe even more so.
Molecule serves Kaladi Bros. delicious creation, the Venetian Cream Coffee, and the baristas make excellent lattes (currently there is a seasonal Peeps latte). It also serves Bulletproof Coffee. For those who aren’t familiar, Bulletproof coffee is two tablespoons of butter, an espresso shot, and hot water blended. It’s creamy without being milky and lets the espresso flavor really stand on its own.
Along with being a lounge, Molecule Effect is also an official member of the Santa Fe Art District. The space, which is housed in a building that is over 100 years old, features art created by locals which rotates about every 90 days. In addition to these paintings hung around the shop, there is a large mural on the wall that also follows a similar rotation. Currently the shop features a mural by local artist Brian Simmonds and his surrealist paintings [as pictured above]. When the mural is scheduled to change, the new artist comes into the shop at 10 p.m., after closing, and works all night so that the new mural is a surprise for everyone. The next mural goes up May 1 and will be featuring art by Jesse van Horne, owner of Skullflower Design Studios. Make sure to stop by Molecule to see the new painting or come in before and enjoy the sense of community while sipping on a coffee or cocktail of your choosing.
All photography by Kyle Cooper