The best grounds to get your brew
Get your local coffee fix
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 12:11
Denver is a great town for nearly everything. It’s got a blossoming art scene, a hoppin’ nightlife in LoDo, and, most importantly, a great selection of coffee—for both the roast-obsessed and the daily caffeine fiend.
Let’s start on the right foot by immediately discounting Starbucks and almost everything about it—not necessarily the company or the people or the welcoming environment, but the coffee: that over-roasted brown water and the eighteen-pump desserts they pour into a cup and charge top dollar for. In this town you can do so much better.
On the surface Denver doesn’t seem to be a coffee drinker’s heaven. Most of the coffee shops throughout the city are Starbucks (there are at least five along the 16th Street Mall) or other corporate shops. But if you dig a bit deeper, a good, local cup of coffee is not too hard to find. Here you’ll find four local (and one less so) roasters whose coffee you can find scattered throughout Denver.
First up is Pablo’s Coffee, a Denver local company that roasts its beans just south of downtown on 7th and Lipan and serves coffee up fresh in its cozy shop, on the corner of 6th and Washington.
Pablo’s offers a number of both blends and single origins that rotate throughout the year. Every day the shop serves up two to three different coffees, some of which are brewed up in large batches, while others are prepared, on demand, French press style just for you.
At any given time Pablo’s has 15 to 20 varieties of whole beans on sale by the pound, which cost around $12 and can be ground to your needs. The staple coffee, Danger Monkey, comes in the form of a wonderfully dark blend of Sumatra and East African. Danger Monkey is featured at a number of coffee shops throughout the city, though it will always taste the best brewed on the corner of 6th and Washington.
While it may be tough to find parking in the busy Capitol Hill area, Pablo’s is well worth the hunt. The shop has a warm vibe that invites you to sit back and take a deep breath. The lack of Wi-Fi prevents Pablo’s from being the study paradise that it could be, but gives it a more relaxing feel and makes it a great place to sit and chat with friends.
A great roaster worth taking note of is ink! Coffee. The company has been around for quite some time. Outgrowing a coffee cart in the mid 90s, ink! opened its roasting plant in Basalt shortly after and has steadily invaded Denver since with six locations. While ink!’s most popular drinks are the super sweet yet delicious Black and White and the hearty banana-based B&B, it is undeniable that ink! serves one of the best straight cups of joe in the city. Each day ink! offers up two to three options (one single origin and one or two blends) making sure to spread out the flavors to give every customer the roast he or she wants. ink!’s standard roast, the 6610 (named for the altitude the beans are roasted at), is a near perfect dark roast that is a great start to any day. The only down side to the local chain: the hustle and bustle. Every location is consistently packed, some sporting lines out the door. Though this proves the power of good coffee, it prevents ink! from feeling like a place to stay.
The corner of Larimer and 30th is the home base for Denver roasters Novo Coffee. Novo is a small family-owned company that views coffee much like wine, boasting that every batch is subtlety different from the previous. In 2011 Novo was deemed Best Local Roaster by Westword, a title not to be taken lightly.
Unlike Pablo’s and ink!, Novo operates no coffee shops of its own. The only way to get your hands on a fresh brewed cup is to find one of the many outlets around the city. Novo has also been known to pull out of a coffee shop if the coffee isn’t brewed properly in order to set its standards so you know any Novo cup is going to be good. A great place to find fresh Novo is Fluid Coffee Bar at 19th and Pennsylvania.
Kaladi Brothers Coffee
Kaladi Brothers Coffee is at Evans and Williams Street in the DU neighborhood. What separates Kaladi from the pack is its use of air roasting, which allows for more control over the temperature of each individual roast, helping to ensure that every roast is nearly exactly the same.
While Kaladi is located across town from campus, you can find Kaladi beans brewed up in multiple coffee shops around town. However, nearly every shop serving up Kaladi brews it a bit differently, some better and some worse. So while some Kaladi may not stand up to the rest of the Denver roasts, Kaladi from Kaladi is one fine cup of coffee.