The Denver coffee scene is thriving. Craft coffee has become omnipresent — some have even likened the emerging culture to Seattle’s. Purveyors across the city are succeeding in restoring the true cafe aesthetic — with high-quality products and a space that fosters community engagement.
Each of the locations below opened its doors within the last two years, each with its own distinct take on what it means to be a coffee shop. These young locales bring distinctive and delicious approaches to the Denver coffee scene — one that will surely keep growing as more Denver folks hunt for their next buzz.
Where: Bellwether. 5126 East Colfax Ave., Denver.
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. – midnight
The Lowdown: The sign atop Bellwether does not beat around the bush — Coffee, Whiskey, Clothing, Barbershop. Opened by Josh Schmitz in August 2015, the East Colfax locale was designed to cultivate a sense of creativity, providing a home for outcasts of all kinds. Doubling as a showroom for Schmitz’ emerging brand, Ruckus Clothing Company, the sparse interior matches the line’s dark, subtle and sophisticated aesthetic. All of the usual suspects in the espresso world are represented, as are several rotating taps serving delicious local brews. Its latest claim to fame is the Bulleit rye served on nitro tap — the ordinarily auburn liquor comes out a shimmery gold, with a sweeter and more delicate flavor.
Where: Sonder. 9731 East Iliff Ave., Denver.
Hours: Everyday from 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The Lowdown: Tucked away in the Lugano at Cherry Creek apartments on East Iliff, it can initially be easy to miss Sonder. The brainchild of husband and wife Ernest and Julia Minayev and partner Pop Nutanavooth, the place draws its name from a concept found in the Dictionary of Obscure Words. On the far wall the central tenet defining the business is written — “Sonder (n): the realization that each random passerby has a life just as vivid and complex as your own.”
Inspired by Scandinavian specialty coffee shops, the brightly lit interior boasts white walls, large windows and an exquisitely clean design principle. Ernest credits his approach to hospitality to his background as a Russian immigrant — his wife also immigrated to Denver in the ’90s from Romania. A deep sense of personal care and attention to detail is immediately evident. However it is the Minayev’s internet presence that really sets the place apart — the two have been blogging the entire process of opening the shop since its earliest planning stage began two years ago. Their detailed approach has attracted an international audience.
Jubilee Roasting Company
Where: Jubilee Roasting Company. 1452 Kenton St., Aurora.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.
The Lowdown: Located at Kenton and Colfax the Jubilee Roasting Company is producing some of Denver’s tastiest beans from an inauspicious building in Aurora. The cafe is elegant and they serve a mean cortado ($3.25), but the main focus is wholesale. Owner Peter Wanberg carefully selects the product and roasts it with skill befitting his experience. The end result is riveting. In addition to their small storefront, they will open a stand at the Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market this summer.
Where: Rosebud Cafe. 90 Pennsylvania St., Denver.
Hours: M0nday – Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Lowdown: The Rosebud Cafe is tranquil. The spacious interior with a minimalist aesthetic allows for plenty of breathing room. Reading material is available and a quiet and respectful culture has flourished. Delicious, fresh baked goods — including scones, swirl cakes and sandwiches — are produced in-house daily. What really sets Rosebud apart, however, is the ability to create your own blended tea from a diverse array herbs and flowers — including mallow flower, rose petal, hibiscus and green teas.
Where: Session Coffee. 1340 South Santa Fe Dr., Denver.
Hours: Monday – Friday 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The Lowdown: Session Coffee is a labor of love. Opened by brothers Matt and Brad Grouber at the close of 2016, the industrial chic cafe on Santa Fe is an impressive testament to the importance of socially conscious coffee. The brothers run the place by themselves, each putting in roughly 110 hours a week. The reason? A dedication to the notion that responsible practices make for a better system at large. Working with local roasters committing to beneficial price-fixes for coffee producers, the brothers have quickly grown a community at a location they initially assumed would mostly be a commuter coffee shop. Top notch customer service and a truly heartfelt dedication to coffee are to be expected.
Unless noted, all other photography by Colin Wrenn.