Tyler Venter and his parents faced a dilemma at their design studio: people kept seeing their espresso machine and walking in to order coffee. The drinks were actually just for clients; the espresso bar was in lieu of a reception desk. But after enough almost-customers came in, they decided it was maybe time to go with the flow.
So while Spur Coffee’s white walls and wooden floors were initially meant to house just the Venters’ design studio (Spur), they settled on the nice compromise of turning it into that and also a coffee shop run by Tyler, with collaborative office space to rent out as well. (The design studio is run by his father, Marcel Venter.)
“We looked at other locations in the [Denver metro] area and chose Littleton for its historic vibe and proximity to Denver and light-rail access,” says the younger Venter. “The espresso bar evolved from our studio. We had [it] set up as a place where we could meet with clients, but we had so many people walking in thinking they could buy coffee that we eventually opened to the public.”
Being in a town like Littleton the past three years has allowed the Venters to connect with the community without dealing with big-city drawbacks such as lack of parking and a pushy pace of life. It has also brought specialty coffee to a community lacking much experience with it.
“Littleton was a coffee wasteland—there was no craft coffee,” says Venter. “We had to spend a ton of time educating and making people aware that there is more to taste in coffee beyond burnt asphalt.
The front espresso bar consists of a La Marzocco GS3 and Mahlkönig K30 grinder filled with Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters beans; on the backbar sit Mazzer Mini and Mahlkönig Kenia grinders, an AeroPress, and a pour-over setup. Desk space near the back of the cafe is open for reservations from local companies or individuals, along with some first-come, first-served spaces.
The drink menu features both standard espresso-beverage options and a rotating seasonal menu. Highlights from the summer menu include a Vietnamese iced-coffee-inspired drink called the Compacta and a masala-rooibos tea, mint, and lemonade beverage called the Greyton that Tyler says he drank growing up. His mother, Tandi Venter, bakes and creates all the shop’s pastries.
The Venters are clearly glad they didn’t keep their espresso for just their design clients and have found that the sense of community in Littleton has made the space a joy and a success.
“[It’s] the people,” says Tyler. “Their stories, the friendships, and a community that has come alive around coffee—and of course, the freedom and opportunity to do work on our own branding.”
Coffee in Denver is competitive and there’s little room for new players. It might be time for new shops and roasters to start looking outside the city for the next great coffee hot spot—people in Littleton already have.
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. Read more Ben Wiese on Sprudge.