It’s official: Commonwealth Coffee has put the finishing touches on its shared workspace—emphasis on the shared. The Denver brand's new retail space, cafe, production area, and roaster are all in one big room.
After three years in business selling to cafes in Denver and beyond, this marks Commonwealth owners Jason Farrar and Ryan Fisher's first foray into a public-facing space, built to serve wholesale and individual customers under one roof. Though the cafe/roastery combo isn’t a new idea—shout-out to Farrar’s old home Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, among others—it’s a new experience for Commonwealth as a company and for the customers purchasing their coffee.
“[Jason and I] had a vision from the beginning and we both put a value on people,” says Fisher. “For me, having people finally walk in and have coffee from us in a place that took a lot of work to build… I feel like we finally get to present who we are to the public.”
The communal wooden table peppered with knots, glossy coffee bar with delicate white and blue tiles, and light blonde benches running along the windows were all handcrafted by Fisher. In fact, nearly all of the build-out was completed by Fisher and Farrar while they pulled shifts roasting and working production.
“It’s surreal because of all the work and craziness,” says Farrar. “But then it’s also like ‘let’s keep going.’ It’s not really a stop-and-pause moment where you chill and go to Hawaii for a week—you keep going and keep serving.”
Behind the U-shaped bar sits a La Marzocco Linea PB with royal blue paneling, a Mahlkönig PEAK espresso grinder, a couple of EK 43 grinders, and a collection of gorgeous ceramic wares custom-made by local ceramic artist Matthew Jorgensen. The open style of the bar area and roastery allows for customers to not only engage with the staff but also to emphasize an accessibility and transparency that is becoming the expectation of the industry.
Upon entering, customers will be greeted and encouraged to find a comfortable seat—no queues for drink ordering and no register. Customers will be offered the standard espresso beverage options and daily-rotating single-origin coffees available as batch brew or pour-overs. “In terms of space, we wanted it to be really inviting,” says Fisher. “But also it’s a workspace: we roast and there’s no wall between it. There are noises and the stuff happening [in the production area] is part of what we do, but everything about what we do on the retail side is around giving people a super experience.”
It's hard to build a multi-purpose space with a single philosophy, but for Fisher and Farrar the conversation keeps coming back to community and relationships. In this way they're no different than a thousand other small business owners; this very much counts as industry talk. But for Commonwealth Coffee—an established quality coffee roaster opening its first cafe—the joy and pride its owners take in serving their own coffee to the public for the first time is undeniable. The enthusiasm around this place is catching.
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. Read more Ben Wiese on Sprudge.
Photos courtesy of Macy McArthur.