With a strong coffee culture, plus java shops and roasters galore, Denver is decidedly a great city for coffee lovers. And while a better-than-average cup of joe is easy to find in this town, we wanted to highlight the Mile High City’s truly exceptional spots: The ones working the hardest to source their beans ethically; the ones where the baristas are warm and hospitable as they pour the perfect rosette design atop your latte; the ones with the best atmosphere for chilling, working, meeting, or just caffeinating. We’ve narrowed it down to these 10 picks, organized in no particular order. Is there a shop we missed? Write to email@example.com to tell us about your favorite.
Editor’s note: To comply with health and safety restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, most of the coffee shops on our list only offer limited seating or menu items for pick up; please call or check the business’ website for the most up to date information. In May 2020, Commonwealth Coffee and Huckleberry Roasters merged, dissolving the Commonwealth brand. As a result, Commonwealth’s North Denver storefront is closed.
Note: This is a list of Denver’s best coffee shops, not coffee roasters.
Since it opened its first storefront in 2012, Corvus Coffee Roasters has always been keenly focused on developing personal, direct-trade relationships with coffee growers. That mission is apparent at the stripped-down, industrial Broadway location, where bar-style seating gives you a front-row view of the roasting action. There, you can see the team roast small batches of interesting beans, from a buttery-orangey San Pedro from Colombia to the jammy Uraga Natural from Ethiopia. While this is a great place to enjoy a pour-over or cold brew, there’s plenty to drink for non-purists, too, including creamy house-made almond-cashew milk, flavored iced-coffee “highballs,” and seasonal lattes, like the Auburn with maple syrup and cinnamon.
Drink: The “Morning Slam,” which gets you an espresso to drink there and a black coffee for the road
1740 S. Broadway; 4925 S. Newport St.
It’s been three years since Black Eye’s much-lauded Capitol Hill location shuttered; we still miss it. Luckily, the quirky, lovable LoHi shop is still running strong. Beautifully outfitted with repurposed vintage hutches and bathroom doors labeled “Payroll” from the historic Gates Rubber Company building, this coffee mecca is laid-back, cool, and infinitely ‘grammable. While we love visiting most on warm days when the garage doors open up to the action on Navajo Street, Black Eye’s well-crafted beverages make it a year-round destination. Whether your latte is made with local Huckleberry Roasters beans or with those from guest roasters like Onyx Coffee Lab or Tweed Coffee Roasters, it will be delicious.
Drink: A cortado (with a Topo Chico chaser)
Eat: A menu of house-made eats, from avocado toast to grilled cheese
Booze? Beer and wine
3408 Navajo St.
Tucked away in an industrial area of North Denver, Commonwealth’s roastery/coffee shop hybrid is an oasis for coffee connoisseurs. There’s a lot to love there, starting with the fact that baristas are paid a living wage (so there’s no need to tip). This is a great spot to watch the roasters at work, as there’s no divide between the cafe and roastery. That Commonwealth also stocks premium Seattle-based Floating Leaves teas and serves all of its drinks in gorgeous, locally made Jorgensen Stoneware mugs is just the crema on the (smooth Ontology Blend) espresso.
Drink: A cereal milk latte, which is made with a different cereal-infused milk each week
Eat: Vegan pastries from Beet Box Bakery & Cafe (on Saturdays only)
5225 E. 38th Ave.
Crema has been a Larimer Street stalwart for fantastic drinks (made with beans sourced from more than 20 rotating roasters from across the country), house-made food, and relaxed vibes since it opened in 2009. Whether you’re drinking your perfectly pulled espresso neat or in a vanilla latte sweetened with house-made syrup, Crema delivers a top-notch drink. We prefer visiting the original, stand-alone Larimer Street location, where you can enjoy a pork belly banh mi alongside your cold brew. Heads up: Crema offers WiFi but no outlets, so if you think your work session will run long, you may want to caffeinate elsewhere.
Drink: Drip to stay (with free refills!)
Eat: The legendary sweet potato waffle or quiche-of-the-day
2862 Larimer St.; Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer St.
Amethyst founder Elle Taylor has always put hospitality first at her cafes. As a result, baristas at Amethyst’s four dreamy and distinct Denver locations have an uncommon focus on the guest experience, bringing your drink to your table and bussing your empty cup to facilitate a more relaxing vibe. Taylor and many of her baristas (and co-owner and Denver coffee vet Breezy Sanchez) are competition winners, too, so you can expect a perfectly balanced espresso shot and velvety foamed milk every time. Now, five years in, Taylor and her crew are finally roasting their own beans, and their house blend and single-origin offerings are unsurprisingly awesome.
Drink: Any of the seasonal specials, which are created by each store’s baristas.
Eat: The Broadway outpost has pastries from Rebel Bread, while the Steele Street and 44th Avenue locations serve other light bites.
Booze? The Broadway location has natural wines by the glass or bottle.
3851 Steele St., Unit B; 111 Broadway; 4999 W. 44th Ave.; Edgewater Public Market, 5505 W. 20th Ave.
There’s a lot to love at Huckleberry’s pair of Denver cafes, from the cheerful, trendy design to the perennially pleasant employees. But some of Huckleberry’s house-roasted beans have made headlines as of late. After winning the U.S. Roaster Championship last year, Huckleberry’s Shelby Williamson became the first woman ever to represent the U.S. at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Taiwan. That level of expertise is evident in Huckleberry’s lineup of single-origin offerings and blends, from boutique selections like the citrusy Kenya Gatuyaini Peaberry and floral Colombia Israel Hernandez Gesha to approachable, milk-friendly options, like the well-rounded Sound and Vision blend. Of Huckleberry’s two Denver outposts, we like taking out-of-towners to the Dairy Block location adjacent to the Maven Hotel lobby, where there’s plenty of seating and great people watching.
Drink: The Adventurous Coffee Flight lets you taste your way through drip, espresso, and cold brew iterations.
Eat: Both locations serve toasts and pastries.
1850 Wazee St.; 4301 Pecos St..
Started in 2017 by brothers Scott, Luke, and Eric Byington, Queen City Collective was inspired by Eric and Scott’s work with the Elias Fund, a Zimbabwe-based nonprofit. The brothers tapped into their experiences with coffee farmers in Africa to create their own brand of ethically sourced beans, creating a “Made By Her” program intended to spotlight and give back to female coffee farmers. You can find their beans at shops across town, and also at their own cafes in Baker (in a shared space with Novel Strand Brewing Co.) and Five Points. We like the cozy Five Points location best, which pairs the brothers’ complex brews (try the fruity Ethiopian Banco Kochere) with local Rebel Bread treats and portable sandwiches made specially for Queen City by nearby Goed Zuur.
Drink: The Dark Star, a blend of nitro cold brew and Mexican Coke
Eat: Rotating sandwich selections made by nearby Goed Zuur are offered at the RiNo location, and Queen City also has a concept inside Mission Ballroom, where showgoers can get coffee and boozy drinks
Booze: Novel Strand brews are available at the Baker location
305 W. 1st Ave.; 2962 Welton St.
Hanging out at this beloved Uptown coffee shop feels like spending time at your cool aunt’s house, which also happens to have free WiFi, amazing coffee, and tasty, healthful bites. Mismatched vintage couches and two levels of seating offer plenty of cozy nooks perfect for working or chatting, while hanging plants and eclectic thrift-store art give the space an unpretentious feel. Espresso drinks are made with Huckleberry Roasters’ Blue Orchid Blend, and the house French Press and cold brew are prepared with Queen City Roasters’ beans.
Drink: Weathervane’s signature Happy Camper Latte, sweetened with smokey maple syrup and garnished with a dusting of fragrant pine sugar
Eat: The affordable food menu has a customizable breakfast sandwich and salad, along with a can’t-miss rotating seasonal chia pudding.
1725 E. 17th Ave.
Design lovers will delight in coffee industry veteran Jeffrey Knott’s tiny yet mighty Blue Sparrow cafes. (Knott is also behind the equally gorgeous Queens Eleven, a new bar and cafe in the nearby Hub building, and the forthcoming Platte Street bar, Room for Milly.) At the Backyard on Blake location, a pretty, hand-scrawled menu, patterned gray floor tile, and dark wood tables create a beautiful backdrop for Blue Sparrow’s simple drink and food menu. In lieu of pour-overs or manual brews, Blue Sparrow opts to focus on serving great drip brews, making this a perfect spot to grab a good cup in a rush. House-made blueberry soda, nutmeg-dusted chai, and perfect matcha lattes round out the offerings.
Drink: On-tap Sträva Craft Coffee CBD iced coffee
Eat: A baguette sandwich from Marczyk Fine Foods
Booze? Seasonal offerings, such as Irish coffee
3070 Blake St., #180; 1615 Platte St., Suite 135
The best coffee shops also function as community gathering centers. Whittier Cafe excels at this, hosting Ethiopian coffee ceremonies each Sunday at 2 p.m., as well as art shows and social justice events that draw big crowds from the namesake neighborhood, along with patrons from Denver and Aurora. Owner Millete Birhanemaskel sources all the shop’s beans from African nations, and oversees a justice fund, which covers the cost of coffee for those who couldn’t normally afford it. In warmer months, the semi-enclosed patio is an ideal respite for enjoying your coffee or tea.
Drink: The caramel-y, rich Kenyan coffee
Eat: Santiago’s breakfast burritos, paninis from Whole Foods, and house-made pastries
Booze: A lineup of African beers and wines
1710 E. 25th Ave.