Each year usually brings a new player to the Denver coffee game, but this year it seems as if new locations for recognizable names is the way to go. In 2017, Copper Door Coffee, Lost Coffee, and Novo Coffee all found new spaces around town to showcase their products for different types of customers.
Copper Door’s trendy second cafe location doubles as a much-needed new roasting space. Located next to Renegade Brewing and a couple of gyms in the industrial warehouse campus known as The Yard, the only 100 percent female-owned roaster in Denver is ready to roll.
Behind the new café bar, Copper Door baristas use a Synesso Hydra MVP espresso machine, a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, a Chemex station, and a couple of Mazzer grinders. Behind the cafe sits a beautiful copper Diedrich IR-12 named Cecilia.
Other than the location being a nice pit stop between downtown Denver and Englewood, it’s also a practical place for Copper Door to expand business. Before the upgrade, Copper Door had reached absolute wholesale max capacity, according to owner Hannah Ulbrich.
“We had been approached by wholesale accounts and our little roaster couldn’t handle more, so I had to start saying no, and then I realized that was probably a stupid business decision,” Ulbrich says, laughing. “We needed a bigger roaster and our space just couldn’t provide it. It just physically wouldn’t fit so we needed a bigger space.”
What started out as a self-described “litmus test” for a city’s appeal, Ulbrich’s coffee path is not unlike many other people who have come before her. Her interest was piqued, she had experience working in cafes through college, and she had a neighbor roasting and selling coffee out of their garage.
“I didn’t know anything about roasting coffee, and I thought it was interesting,” says Ulbrich. “I thought, I know nothing about roasting. I know all sorts of stuff about being a barista and coffee, but nothing about roasting. [The opportunity] was intriguing.”
In a progressive industry in a progressive city, the women running Copper Door are outliers. However, get to a cupping table with Ulbrich and her staff, and you’ll realize that their love of coffee fits right in.
Lost Coffee’s first Denver proper location is not only a big step for the Castle Rock coffee company, but it’s also a chance to serve the University of Denver (DU) student population—and what kind of college kid doesn’t drink a cortado or three throughout the day?
Perhaps one of the most telling details of owner Scott Gaerte’s ambitious vision for Lost Coffee is his belief that the city is still filled with coffee potential, particularly in their area.
“I’m always looking for great opportunities and there’s lots of room in the Denver market for specialty coffee,” he says. “It’s exciting to see communities embrace local business more and more over the years and make informed decisions about their purchases.”
After five years, Lost Coffee has three locations, a roastery, and a mobile coffee truck in the front range. Quietly, Gaerte has a bit of a coffee juggernaut on his hands and has now caught the metro area’s attention.
Lost Coffee’s high ceilings, white walls, and large windows are a simple but elegant sight near the bustling east side campus of DU. A La Marzocco Linea Classic, Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, and v60 setup sit on the bar, along with various grab-and-go items. It’s a conducive spot for coffee in the area, and it’s a part of town that Lost Coffee can make a name for itself in.
“We saw an opportunity to provide great service and coffee to the local community on the east side of the DU campus,” says Gaerte. “There were a few shops that fell into the more traditional coffee concept, and we thought a simple menu with an emphasis on locally sourced products and brighter roast profiles would bring a unique concept to the marketplace.”
For Novo Coffee, adding a fourth location in 15 years means living up to lofty expectations. For the most part, a veteran customer will know what they’re getting upon walking into owner Jake Brodsky’s shops: tasty coffee, an attractive and clean space, maybe a locally baked pastry—which is why Novo’s fourth location should be considered an interesting change of pace.
The new Hilltop neighborhood location not only has a full kitchen space soon to be in working order, and it’s also adjacent to hot spots High Point Creamery and Park Burger. The shops next door offer a new experience for loyal Novo customers and have the potential to draw in High Point and Park Burger traffic that may have never walked into a Novo shop.
“[The new Novo shop] is in a market where we don’t have much of a presence. The building is only three years old and solves some of the challenges we have in our other locations,” says Brodsky. “[The new space] has a full kitchen that we’ll be taking advantage of soon, and we couldn’t ask for better neighbors than High Point and Park Burger and Pete’s Fruits & Veggies across the street!”
Novo’s Hilltop location includes a Synesso Hydra MVP espresso machine, a Mazzer grinder, a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, and a setup for stainless steel Kalita Wave pour-over brewers. In other words: it’s the standard Novo setup.
Other than the obvious move to serve a new part of town, Novo is now poised to be a part of the date night crowd’s itinerary. The modern Denverite can grab a quick bite and beer on one side of the building and end with an affogato on the other side.
Despite new locations from recognizable names being the trend at the moment, not every roaster gets around to opening a second, third, or even fourth café. It’s a milestone worth celebrating. Cheers to the folks that have found their path to expansion in the Queen City of the Plains!
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. Read more Ben Wiese on Sprudge.