Between the wealth of new roasteries popping up and the trend toward coffeehouse–cocktail bar hybrids, Denver's bean scene is generating buzz like never before. These 13 joints have got what it takes to satisfy your caffeine craving whether or not you know your Chemex from your Aeropress (or care).
Logan House Coffee Co.
A mix of industrial and cozy elements — high exposed ceilings and concrete floors, gleaming woods and a stone fireplace — sets quite the dramatic stage for this roastery with the mostery in Aurora’s game-changing Stanley Marketplace. Not only do owners Andre Janusz and Brooks Gagstetter offer five house blends plus a monthly single-origin in-house special, they also make deliveries, bringing beans packaged in recycled wine bottles to your doorstep. Better still, they do all kinds of javatastic stuff with booze, turning out cocktails like the Irish Coffee on Nitro and collaborating with local breweries on seasonal coffee-infused beers such as Ursula's Nautical Buzz IPA and Beryl’s Andrezvous Baltic porter.
Must-order: Go big and bold with the Powder Day dark roast, a best-seller.
On the side: By day, you can chow down on croissants from La Fillette and Comida’s chorizo burritos; by night, Mondo Market provides salumi and cheese plates.
2501 Dallas St., Aurora; 720-515-7752
Also on our list of Hottest Bars, this smart little Cap Hill hangout emanates both class and warmth, mirroring the thought owner Jake Soffes puts into everything he serves. The single-origin roasts he sources exclusively from Commonwealth and pulls from his hand-built lever machine rotate weekly; so do the coffee drinks he offers as specials, be it an Earl Grey–lavender latte or a cinnamon-coconut cold brew. La Fillette delivers the croissants, scones and other pastries, supplemented by the simplest but loveliest of snacks, baguettes smeared with French butter. And then there are the cocktails, terrific whether or not they’re coffee-infused.
Must-order: You gotta love an amaro-laced whiskey-and-espresso concoction called the 8 AM — which happens to be the time you can start ordering it (at your own risk).
On the side: Don't miss one of the city’s best grilled cheese sandwiches, period.
619 E. 13th Ave.; 303-832-0776
Devil's Food Bakery
If Devil’s Food owner Angela Pilloud expected to thin out the herds at her Wash Park fave by moving the coffee bar and bakery into its very own space down the block from the sit-down cafe, mission not accomplished. Both are still as thronged as ever. Showcasing local roasters aplenty, including Middle State and Sweet Bloom, the quaint (but not cutesy) new storefront overlooks the kitchen — and getting caught up in the stream of cooks balancing trays of just-baked goodies is all part of the fun.
Must-order: A French press to linger over
On the side: The variety of pastries on any given day is staggering for such a small place, but we’ll give a shout out to the chocolate hedgehogs and savory "pop tarts" in flavors like Parmesan–tomato jam.
1004 S. Gaylord St.; 303-733-7448
Crema Coffee House
Noah Price and Jonathan Power (The Populist) played a leading role in RiNo's gentrification by opening this artsy haunt back when the 'hood was more skid than sizzle. With a rotating roster of roasters that includes both local companies (Novo and Huckleberry, for instance) and out-of-state purveyors (Oregon's Stumptown, North Carolina's Counter Culture), its success has been such that it now boasts a coffee bar and bodega inside The Denver Central Market (pictured) — which is every bit as busy though only a few blocks away.
Must-order: A macchiato or cold brew
On the side: At the flagship location, both the quiche and the sweet-potato waffles have veritable cult followings. Options for curbing hunger at the Market branch are endless, obviously.
Speaking of Huckleberry Roasters, it too has been at the forefront of both the RiNo renaissance and of Denver's craft-coffee wave. Though this cafe, a spin-off from the production facility, has been around for a while, the founders recently rebranded and revamped the menu — and now the colorful nook in a repurposed shipping container is known for its food as much as its excellent java (there's even a small lineup of beer and wine).
On the side: The avocado toast is popular, but if you've had enough of that by now, try the U.T., an egg sandwich with ginger-soy slaw and kale kimchi.
2500 Larimer St.; 720-549-0622
Olive & Finch Eatery and Bakery
While the original location pulls a great cup from its Strada machine, there's much more room to sit and enjoy your java at its shiny new Cherry Creek sibling. And the presentation is as charming as the space — note the gorgeous custom boards for espresso service.
Must-order: Iced Vietnamese coffee
On the side: The three-cheese polenta with 140-degree eggs and the smoked-salmon sandwich count among our new favorites, but pastry lovers should check the case for the day's quiches, scones and other house-baked goods.
3390 E. 1st Ave.; 303-955-0455
Corvus Coffee Roasters
Late last year, the smash hit that is Phil Goodlaxson's cool Platt Park roastery and espresso bar yielded a DTC offshoot with its own stunning character. While the flagship (pictured) features a Dutch cast-iron roaster for small-batch beans sourced from family farms worldwide, the new branch resembles a high-tech laboratory, showcasing Japanese slow-drip towers for the specialty of the house — cold brews — and steampunk systems dedicated to single-origin pours. Both offer an eye-opening experience in every sense of the phrase.
Must-order: Barrel-aged cold brew and seasonal coffee "cocktails" like the espresso tonic
On the side: Food isn't the focus here — unless it's food for thought in the form of cupping sessions, latte-art classes and other educational fare (Broadway branch only).
Black Eye Coffee
The LoHi original's laid-back and comfy with old brick and gleaming subway tiles, antique hutches and garage-style doors (pictured above); the Capitol Hill sib (pictured top) exudes vintage urban glamour from its black-and-white bar to its velvet booths. No wonder both are anchors of their respective neighborhoods — and their style’s fortified by their substance. Beyond the house roasts and full slate of coffee drinks, both offer legit cafe fare, from avocado toast on flaxseed bread to shakshuka. And while the flagship just began serving wine and beer, its spin-off has been lauded for its cocktails since day one.
Must-order: Almond-milk latte, cold-brew White Russian (Cap Hill only)
On the side: Oatmeal, a breakast sandwich, the daily donut special (Cap Hill only)
Little Owl Coffee
Blink and you’ll miss it in the glare of the Starbucks across the street. That would be a shame, because this closet-sized shop in LoDo is a refuge for connoisseurs. Set against a marble wall, the aerodynamic equipment and beautiful glassware lining the bar are virtually all that pass for decoration in the minimalist space, reflecting the elegance of the all-important sipping experience.
Must-order: One perfect espresso
On the side: A small array of pastries from, you guessed it, La Fillette await on the counter, supplemented by a few packaged items from the grab-and-go display.
1555 Blake St.; 720-328-5574
Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen
At this extra-hip and cheery daytime cafe, married team Hayden Barnie and Amy Cohen maintain a full espresso bar to not only highlight beloved local roasters (Boxcar, Commonwealth) but also give newcomers like Jubilee and Penrose a shot — all while pouring the usual suspects, from macchiatos to mochas, with panache (and perhaps a little housemade cashew milk).
Must-order: A flat white
On the side: The dukkah-seasoned eggs with smoked trout on sourdough toast are a staple, but the specials here are truly special: think mango-coconut waffles with lime yogurt and pumpkin seeds or the savory Japanese pancake called okonomiyaki. Oh, and donuts.
2528 Walnut St.; 720-609-2835
Amethyst Coffee Co.
2015 30 Under 30 honoree Elle Taylor’s belief in the artistry of the barista shines through this Golden Triangle shop: the sleek, chic space — small yet filled with light — resembles a gallery that happens to exhibit coffee rather than paintings. Showcasing Commonwealth along with guest roasters like Orlando’s Lineage, the regular menu of hand brews, shots and so on doesn’t lack for options. But it’s supplemented nevertheless by a wild selection of seasonal drinks (the Pink Drink Handsome, for instance, combining beet purée, milk, rosemary sugar and pink peppercorns) plus a handful of sophisticated snacks, most made in-house.
Must-order: Espresso and milk spiked with housemade honey syrup
On the side: Taylor herself recommends the flourless chocolate cake and the coconut-milk panna cotta.
The flagship Platt Park location of this charming — and growing — group of bakery/cafes enjoys two claims to fame. One, of course, is owner Lorena Cantarovici's exquisite array of Argentinean pastries, both savory and sweet. The other is her towering Victoria Arduino espresso machine: One of only 100 in the world, it was officially blessed by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in May 2006. Maybe that's why every cup it yields seems transcendent. (For logistical reasons, the new DTC satellite and the soon-to-open Stanley Marketplace branch stick to Kaladi drip coffee.)
Must-order: The cortadito, a high-octane Cuban espresso
On the side: An empanada, naturally. Our favorites since day one have been the three cheese–mushroom and the gallega (with tuna and egg), but you can hardly go wrong.
1298 S. Broadway, 303-934-2221
Boxcar Coffee Roasters
Renowned for its innovations in brewing at altitude, this pioneer among local roasters never loses its buzz — and its skilled baristas aim to ensure you won't either. With one location in Boulder adjoining gourmet market Cured and the other at The Source in RiNo, Boxcar has become synonymous with balanced and nuanced roasts, not to mention with Third Wave culture.
Must-order: Cowboy coffee, root beer milk latte
On the side: At The Source, you're steps away from fabulous bakery Babette's Artisan Breads; in Boulder, check Cured's daily changing sandwich board.