Penrose Coffee’s approach is a little unorthodox: rather than attempting to compete in Denver’s saturated coffee market, its owners, Dustin and Samantha Fuchtman, fancy the business a roaster for out-of-state cafes.
“I am the coffee guy and [Samantha] is a little bit more behind the scenes,” Dustin Fuchtman says. “She has a background in tech web stuff, so she built out our website and did all our design. We both have an eye for design, but she’s the one who knows how to implement that.”
Located on the northeast side of Denver, Penrose officially opened at the beginning of 2017. The Fuchtmans is a business partnership that plays perfectly to their coffee and design strengths.
The roasting warehouse is shared by Penrose and Winter Session, a hand-stitched denim and leather goods company—canvas aprons destined to be worn by baristas and bartenders sit on a large worktable, which is flanked by green coffee buckets that line the floor just a few feet away.
Penrose’s roasting setup is barebones and reflective of the company’s youth. There’s a 15-kilo Probat roaster, a corner with a La Marzocco GS3 espresso machine and various brewers for quality control, bags of green coffee sitting on shelves, a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, and some cupping and bagging equipment. It’s a comfortable space, with high ceilings and concrete floors, friendly roommates, and room for growth.
Dustin worked at Novo Coffee, Happy Coffee, and Middlestate—including in the company’s men’s apparel shop and coffee bar, Steadbrook—before deciding to take the plunge into roasting himself. But the goal for Penrose is focused on offering their coffees to out-of-state cafes, rather than those exclusively in Denver—at least, that is, before they have an opportunity to open a cafe of their own.
“That’s the goal: do wholesale for now and work into providing coffee for my own cafes,” Fuchtman says. “But right now, if you look at the model of a multi-roaster cafe, it’s usually one or two local roasters offered and then they cycle through out-of-state coffee, and I’m just trying to be that for Denver for other states.”
With a number of already-established roasteries operating out of Denver, it may be a challenge. But Penrose, driven by an emphasis on beautiful design, knows the lane it wants to be in. Where they'll go is unknown, but maybe for a young roastery that's enough.
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. Read more Ben Wiese on Sprudge.