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The next time you find yourself under-caffeinated and stuck in gas station coffee limbo west of Vail Pass, there’s hope—thanks a heavenly stopover off I-70 and Highway 6. Hygge Life Café is the latest from husband-and-wife team Koen van Renswoude and Alexandra Gove. The couple opened Scandinavian home design store Hygge Life (pronounced hyoo-ga life) in Eagle-Vail (the unincorporated community wedged between the resort bubbles of Vail and Beaver Creek) in 2017 and launched their coffee spot in 2019.
“People who came into the shop kept telling us, ‘I just want to live in here,’” says Gove, a Denver native, of the impetus to expand beyond home goods. “We felt like people couldn’t really slow down and experience the space we were trying to create, so the café was a place for people to take a break and feel that sense of hygge.”
Hygge is a Danish term that roughly translates to cozy contentedness, which sparked a design and lifestyle movement that led the New Yorker to coin 2016 as “the Year of Hygge.” (Gove and van Renswoude were featured in a similarly-themed 2016 New York Times piece as early purveyors of stateside hygge décor, a nod that wiped out their online inventory in a matter of days.)
The coffee nook, located in an alcove off the main shop, curates that same cozy vibe via a traditionalist’s espresso menu (not drip coffee) served from within an impeccably designed space decked in plush sheepskins, sleek tile, and wood accents. There’s a walk-up window to order from that’s right along the bike path, and an adjoining outdoor patio area equipped for social distancing.
In an effort to cultivate a sense of hygge that goes deeper than décor, there’s no Wi-Fi. “People are sometimes taken aback when they ask for the Wi-Fi password,” says Gove. “But it’s become a positive thing where they put away their laptop or phone—they end up feeling a lot more content to sit here alone, or to sit at the bar to talk to our barista.”
Guests can also sip on seriously good espresso; the café uses beans from Denver roaster Huckleberry. There’s also an assortment of baked goods like sticky, cinnamon monkey bread and glazed, gourmet cakes delivered daily from Vail Valley vendors. They’ve also introduced iced espresso beverages to their summer menu, and have enrolled in the Passport Program, which has sweet perks—like buy one, get one free coffee drinks—for enrollees.
The café’s locale right off I-70 is a boon for weary travelers, one that Gove and van Renswoude hope becomes a road trip destination of its own.
Hygge Life Shop & Café is currently open Wednesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and will be open Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in July; 41149 US-6, Avon, CO; 970-331-5745