Inspiration is a-brewin’ in Denver. Fitting right in with The Mile High City’s already renowned craft food and drink scene is a new breed of coffee culture — one that emphasizes sustainably sourced beans, innovative roasting techniques, artisan passion and creativity.
Drawing accolades in the coffee industry as a darling among “third wave” coffee cities, Denver is perfect for a self-designed coffee tasting tour — or a simple cup of joe in between sightseeing — whatever whets your palate.While we can't possibly cover every coffee shop in Denver, allow us to offer a cultivated sampling of 25 of the best coffee shops in Denver.
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D BAR DENVER
Got a sweet tooth and a caffeine addiction? Then we probably shouldn’t tell you about this Uptown dessert bar that also happens to serve a mean cup of java. Oops, too late! Try D Bar’s popular Cake and Shake, Bag O’ Donuts or the Molten Cake Thingy That Everyone Has… and pair it with an Irish coffee or an espresso cocktail.
Espresso and tonic together? Carbon Coffee showcases this surprisingly delicious combo (a trend on the coasts) in the E.T. — a mix of the two, plus some lemon verbena syrup for good measure. Oh, and next door is sister establishment Habit Doughnut Dispensary. We’ll see ya there.
MERCANTILE DINING & PROVISION
This popular farm-to-table restaurant in LoDo’s Union Station serves local Commonwealth Coffee, out-of-this-world European pastries and other nibbles during breakfast and lunch in a light-bathed dining room. In the evening, it dishes out a full-service dinner worthy of one of Denver’s most revered chef-driven eateries.
Boxcar Coffee Roasters
Boxcar burst onto the scene in 2010 in their Boulder location, which sported curious, science-lab like equipment (beakers and heating mantles) and created an instant buzz around their coffees made from small-batch, hand-roasted beans. The deliciousness expanded to a second location at the industrial-chic The Source building in Denver.
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters
Denver knew the craft-coffee movement was here to stay when international Coffee Masters Tournament runner-up Andy Sprenger opened his Sweet Bloom outpost in Lakewood in 2013. The on-site roastery and café are perfection-obsessed and seem to get every single cup delectably right.
Beautiful interiors and cool vibes make these coffeehouses some of the most stylish in Denver.
Supplying some of the choosiest coffee shops with their Denver-roasted beans, Huckleberry now has two shops of its own, both of them off the charts in coolness. The Pecos Street location sports a spare, pared-down interior with warm woods, while their newer Larimer Street locale is inside 29 former sea shipping containers.
Neighborhood: Highlands, RiNo
Glowing white geometric patterns, pale woods and clean lines are fitting for Amethyst, whose motto is “coffee is beautiful.” Friendly baristas serve up Denver’s own Commonwealth Coffee, whose roaster Ryan Fisher placed second in the prestigious NYC Coffee Masters Tournament (competing beside Amethyst’s own Elle Taylor).
Neighborhood: South Broadway
High on charm and low on pretension, this homey nook is decorated with kitsch-chic paintings, bins of vinyl records, retro furniture and an on-site vintage store. The coffee is just as memorable — and comforting — as the surroundings.
For devotees to the one of the most well-known coffee roasters in the country — Intelligentsia — Aviano is where to worship. Amiable baristas know just how to brew the direct-trade beans and serve it to perfection, all in a beautifully modern space trimmed in warm woods and gleaming subway tile.
Neighborhood: Cherry Creek
What this postage-stamp-sized shop lacks in size, it makes up for with big flavors in coffee, often brewed from local Huckleberry Roasters' beans. The real secret is the divine back patio; it’s garden-like in summer, and in winter, staff will equip you with blankets and space heaters. Overt’s owners run the popular Vert Kitchen next door, so naturally, the coffee shop's grab-and-go cooler is stocked with the restaurant’s delicious sandwiches.
Neighborhood: Washington Park
It’s back to basics with the coffee movement’s purist-preferred method of brewing at these revered hot spots.
From their small but elegant shop in LoDo (Lower Downtown), Little Owl serves coffee connoisseurs perfectly brewed individual cups from small-batch, single-origin beans. While their espressos are as delicious, it’s worth watching the art of the pour-over here.
The ultimate back-to-basics approach at Black Black means their coffee is made from meticulously selected beans, one cup at a time, minus any cream or sugar. The establishment’s focus on quality has fans converting to the pared-down brewing philosophy.
These purveyors were in the know about coffee — and community — way back before the rest of us caught on.
Pablo’s has been around since 1995, when founder Craig Conner used his credit card to start the business with partner Kris Kluver. The place has grown and matured its coffee-making techniques over the years and now has a second location. Yet Pablo’s maintains its down-to-earth feel and a legion of loyal customers.
Preaching the gospel of good coffee since 2000, the Kaladi brothers have adapted an “air roasting” technique that accounts for the smoothness of their roast. Stop by their understated café near the University of Denver, which is a favorite of coffee faithfuls.
Dazbog Coffee Company
Russian for "good fortune,” Dazbog Coffee Company was founded in 1996 by two brothers from Leningrad, Leonid and Anatoly Yuffa. Now with a couple of dozen locations throughout Colorado, the beans are, to this day, roasted in small batches, carrying names like KGBlend, White Nights Espresso and Kremlin Blend.
Neighborhood: Multiple locations across Denver
These coffee shops are about way more than coffee.
A recent Yelp review taunts, “If you're satisfied with your mediocre existence, stay away.” Yep. The folks at Corvus on South Broadway get craft coffee to a T, and this beautiful, bright interior is the perfect place to chat with the knowledgeable baristas, surf a little — and return to an enlightened existence.
Neighborhood: South Broadway
A colorful interior, community events, art shows, piles of books — it’s the vibrant sense of community that makes Whittier Café stand out. That and the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony every Sunday at 2 p.m.
Denver’s most beloved bookstore is the indie-run Tattered Cover — a literary mecca, really. The 16th Street Mall location (of three locations that serve coffee) is well suited to buying a novel or magazine, cozying up in a corner and sipping coffee in bookish bliss.
Neighborhood: Downtown, East Colfax
Denver Bicycle Café
There’s an undeniable synergy between biking and coffee in Denver — often cyclists will meet up at a café before or after a group ride — but the Denver Bicycle Café takes the combo to a new level. It’s a bike shop, coffeehouse and bar all in one. You’ll also find board games, great music and friendly folks.
Purple Door Coffee
While so much of Denver’s coffee culture is built on sustainable and fair-trade values, Purple Door takes it to the next level by employing homeless teens — a compassionate strategy that’s built right into their business model. Easy to get to from downtown via the D-line on light rail, this place serves coffee and espresso that’s as impressive as its mission.
Neighborhood: Five Points
Thump comes to Denver by way of Oregon, bringing with them their philosophy that coffee can change lives. Long, wooden community tables, delicious pastries, flavorful teas and frothy lattes make it a pleasure to hang here for quite some time.
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Copper Door Coffee
Copper Door Coffee is the first female-only-owned roastery in Denver. Owner Hannah Ulbrich selects high-quality beans from women-only producers, growers with programs that benefit wildlife, and farms with fair trade and organic beans. The shop itself has a warm, farmhouse feel, thanks to a wall covered entirely of old, chippy doors.
Looking for a late night coffee shop? These multi-tasking venues blur the line between coffee shop and drinking hole.
Craft coffee, whiskey and shopping? What else could person want? The masculine vibe (antlers on the wall, a motorcycle parked inside) is fitting for a joint that has rye whiskey on tap — and that also happens to serve one of the best cold-brewed coffees in Denver.
Neighborhood: East Colfax
This hipster haven serves up to-die-for bites, gourmet coffee and, in its Capitol Hill Location, over 20 inventive cocktails from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The hangout manages to be low-key yet chic at the same time, making it ideal for daytime or evening meet-ups over coffee or adult bevies.
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Highlands
While you’re in The Mile High City, keep an eye open for the ultimate Denver collaboration: coffee and beer. Here in one of America’s top craft brewing cities, the two make a natural pair. Try Espresso Oak Aged Yeti beer by Great Divide Brewing Co. or Imperial Sunday Morning by Renegade Brewing.