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Lon McGowan’s new Alpine Modern Café isn’t just another espresso joint, it’s the latest incarnation of the Boulderite’s plan to define global, hyperstylish mountain living.
In short order, McGowan has launched a Boulder home furnishings store, a thick coffee table magazine, and now this café, all under the Alpine Modern name. The esthetic embraces architecture, design, environment, beards, cooking, fashion, the outdoors, more beards, etc. (Full disclosure: I just wrote a feature about Japanese chef’s knives for McGowan’s magazine.) Think of McGowan as a laid-back Boulder version of Tyler Brülé, the globetrotting Canadian editor who launched Wallpaper magazine out of London, and then a branding agency, and then Monocle magazine, all aimed at the ultracool Urban Person of Travel.
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The new cafe embodies McGowan’s look. It’s discretely nested in the College Avenue residential area, in a completely refurbished stone building that was used as a grocery for almost a century (most recent incarnation, Delilah’s Pretty Good Grocery). The striking, airy room, all whites and woods with an open-beam ceiling, was designed by Alpine Modern’s own team. It’s dominated by a counter whose modular espresso machine, made by Modbar of Seattle, looks like something from a retro-futuristic soda counter. One expects, and gets, precision in Alpine Modern’s coffee-making, with an uncut cold brew that’s tangy, clean, and strong enough to tune your strings for a long day of hitting the books. There are lots of tables for the mandatory Apple laptops and their stylish, mostly college-age owners. Food is clever. At lunch, little sandwiches consist of pretzel-dough mini-baguettes filled with such things as pastrami, mustard, and sauerkraut (very tasty) or salmon with triple cream cheese and radish. A variety of breakfast tartines feature Nutella, avocado, or simply Plugrá butter. There’s a quinoa porridge, too.
For all its cool, Alpine Modern is warm and friendly, even a bit fun, which is McGowan’s trademark. It’s now one of my three favorite coffee joints, along with Aviano in Cherry Creek and Amante’s Walnut Street outpost in Boulder.
904 College Ave., Boulder, 303-954-0129