Session Coffee is a new Denver cafe owned and operated by brothers Matt and Brad Gruber. Located between Athmar Park and Platt Park, the shop is serving some of the best roasters in the state and is a highlight reel of what the brothers know best: handsome woodwork and craft coffee.
For the better part of the past decade, while Brad Gruber was working for the family carpentry business, his brother Matt was off in the Boulder coffee scene, working on plans to open a shop of his own. Over the years, he found little luck in having anything grow to be more than just a dream.
“I had a couple of different plans to open up shops that just fizzled out because that’s how they always happen,” says Matt Gruber. “But, this one finally stuck.” Whether it was bringing his father on as the general contractor or calling his brother in to help run the shop that did the trick, it's hard to say—but whatever the trick may have been, Session Coffee is working.
The trendy industrial south Denver space consists of varying shades of wood on the countertops and wall paneling, floors, and tables, along with hanging lights and clean black and mint green paint. Standing out among all the furniture and décor is a long, sleek beetle kill wood table the brothers made from wood they procured from the Rocky Mountain National Park.
For coffee equipment, the Gruber brothers opted for a Synesso MVP Hydra espresso machine, FETCO brewer, and a white Mahlkönig EK 43 grinder and K30 Twin espresso grinder. Middlestate and Sweet Bloom roasters were tapped for espresso, pour-over, and drip coffee, while pastries and burritos come from local staples Sugar Vision bakeshop, Enzo The Baker, and Colorado Taco Company.
Ignoring the unenviable task of trying to stand out among more established cafes in a thriving coffee city, Matt Gruber instead focused on two things he knew he had working in his favor from day one: Denver residents' love of coffee, and his unusual location.
“Denver’s a really good place to have craft coffee because everyone’s into it,” says Gruber. “The reason we opened in this location was to give a different feel to an area that is riddled with fast food chains and much more industrial warehouse space and stuff like that.”
The shop has proven to be much more of a community-driven cafe than anticipated, with regulars from both nearby communities and a steady stream of new faces seen daily. Considering the Gruber brothers are the only employees, establishing relationships with customers is not really a coincidence at this point.
“We opened it to be a commuter coffee shop for people heading into the city,” says Matt Gruber. “But actually, we hardly get any business from that—which is really cool, because we’ve always wanted a shop where we served a community neighborhood rather than fast grab and go.”
The Grubers are, for now, at the shop seven days a week for each and every shift. This type of workload is not exactly ideal nor sustainable, but the value of such a rigorous workload might be the fact that every single customer will interact with ownership. With that said, the Grubers are going to need a day off at some point, and maybe then they’ll be able to fully enjoy what they’ve built.
“It’s kind of hard because we’re so attached to it right now, it’s difficult to look at it from an outsider’s perspective. So right now, I’m very tired,” Matt Gruber says with a laugh. Despite the exhaustion, Gruber says it's all worth it.
“It’s really cool to see. Being able to win people over through craft coffee is a really, really fun and rewarding experience.”
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. Read more Ben Wiese on Sprudge.