“Coffee in the morning is one of those savory beautiful lil’ moments. It’s this universal ritual that’s so small yet so significant in our day.” These are the words of Becca Reitz, a Denver-based artist currently collaborating with Queen City Coffee Collective (QC). The local business describes themselves and their coffee as “origin inspired, Denver roasted” by sourcing their coffee beans from around the world and roasting them right here in Colorado. “We truly believe in community by way of coffee whether that be with our customers here or our farming partners at origin,” said Luke Byington, one of the owners and co-roasters at Queen City.
Queen City is Colorado-based through and through. Byington and his brothers (co-owners/roasters Eric and Scott), grew up in Colorado Springs. “We all moved away for a bit of time but decided to move back to Denver as it seemed like the natural fit for us to come home. Our connection to the communities here in Denver stems from our staff and ourselves being very active here outside of just work and being very intentional with efforts to build community,” Byington said.
The three brothers founded the collective in 2017 after returning from running a non-profit in Southern Africa. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, the Queen City artist series was born. “A lot of of our regulars and friends at our cafes are in the artist community and we have always drawn a lot of inspiration from those individuals,” said Byington. They started working with FRNDS, a Denver-based creative agency, to make the series a reality.
“Our goal with the Artist Series is to show off some of the badass artists, whatever medium they create, and to use FRNDS Agency to create a video highlight and picture content that they can go back and have as an asset to showcase their work,” he added. “For us, it is less about the coffee and more about highlighting artists who inspire QC and showing off why Denver is such a rad place to live and work in.”
Enter Becca Reitz — a Chicago native turned Coloradan who shares a studio space with FRNDS in Denver. After finishing design school, Reitz moved to Vail to work for a small boutique/marketing firm — having never been to Colorado. “From camping, to hiking, to SUP yoga, it was in Vail that I really found my love for the mountains and a welcoming community to guide me and teach me,” Reitz said. “I was also always heading down to Denver to fulfill that creative side. Ever since moving here, I can for sure say that the Denver creative community especially is one of the most supportive ones you’ll ever find.”
Reitz described her illustrations as “full of sparkly sprinkles, lots o’ leaves, the occasional jungle cat and the female figure. It’s a continual ode to the power of the feminine, something this society is sadly still lacking. It’s about the wonder and strength that comes with intuition, with a calm knowing. It captures the moments where you feel like you understand yourself, or your place in the world, or why something as simple as an autumn day in the woods can make us feel at home. Cheesy, but real.”
Reitz’s design can be seen on a special edition of Queen City packaging. Byington said that “she came up with this really cool design that inspired us to pair it with a really unique coffee and with her design we also created a sticker, we are super pumped on the whole collab!”
Reitz cites her meditation practice as a main foundation for her artistic process and devotes about 20 minutes to it every morning. “It’s there that my mind runs wild,” she said. “I’m a majorly visual person. I can visualize a scene instantly and decorate it with my eyes closed. While I draw plenty of inspiration from the world around me, and Pinterest or Instagram, it’s so important to me that the images are flashed into my brain on my own.” She’s currently involved in various artistic projects, many of them local and collaborative. “I’m working as a full-time creative director for a brand called Spirit Daughter, while still freelancing for other clients and such. I work with ReRoot gardens in town, WinterWondergrass and a couple of others. I recently was lucky to be a part of Babe Walls, a woman/non-binary mural festival here in town,” she said.
Community engagement and teamwork is crucial both the Queen City brothers and to Reitz. “We always joke because it’s the three brothers, that it’s like joining our family when someone joins the QC team,” said Byington, who said that they “always wanted to find a way to start a company that can connect our friendships with the farmers we had made through our years of work in Africa and Central America and brings that to our community here in Denver.”
Reitz added that special moments like the morning ritual of coffee are more important than ever right now. “Find those moments amidst the chaos, especially of this year,” she said. “You may feel like the lead in a cheesy Folger’s commercial, sipping your coffee and inhaling it with a smile. I don’t care, do more of that stuff!! Breathe it in, take it in, slow it down. And go get yourself some Queen City coffee.”
Queen City Coffee Collective is located 2962 Welton Street and 305 W 1st Avenue in Denver.
All images courtesy of FRNDS Agency