With a strong coffee culture, roasters galore, and a growing number of all-day cafe bars, 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 25 picks in Denver and the surrounding suburbs, organized into three distinct categories: Coffee Date Destinations, Best in Drinks, and Where to Work.

Editor’s Note: This living list of the best coffee shops was last updated on April 5, 2024. Did we miss your favorite? Email us at dining@5280.com

Jump Ahead:

Coffee Date Destinations

Blue Sparrow Coffee

Blue Sparrow Coffee
The interior of Blue Sparrow Coffee. Photo by Rachel Adams

Design lovers will delight in coffee industry veteran Jeffrey Knott’s aesthetically pleasing Blue Sparrow cafes. At the petite 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 from rotating featured roasters, making this a perfect spot to grab a good cup in a rush. House-made, nutmeg-dusted chai and perfect matcha lattes round out the offerings.

The cafe also has a Single-Use Initiative to encourage patrons to reduce waste; it charges a $0.10 fee per single-use cup, and all proceeds go into a fund that supports the company’s other sustainability goals.

Drink: On-tap Sträva Craft Coffee CBD nitro iced coffee
Eat: Hearth Bakery pastries
Booze? No
3070 Blake St., Ste. 180; 1615 Platte St., Ste. 135

Copper Door Coffee Roasters

Denver’s only woman-owned roastery also puts 100 percent women-produced coffees at the forefront of its business, sourcing most of its beans from female-owned farms. You can taste those wind-power-roasted offerings—including Sumatra Queen Ketiara, Peru Agua Colorada, and Yirgacheffe—at Copper Door’s four locations across the Mile High City or its Littleton outpost in Aspen Grove. The dreamy offshoot at the Denver Botanic Gardens, however, is our favorite caffeination location. Enjoy the greenery outdoors on the enclosed patio or inside the tranquil, high-ceilinged space.

Drink: A latte with house-made hazelnut syrup
Eat: Mame’s breakfast burritos and pastries from Handcraft Bakery
Booze? No
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1085 York St.; 7581 E. Academy Blvd.; the Yard, 900 W. First Ave., Ste. 180; 2890 Fairfax St.; Aspen Grove, 7301 S. Santa Fe Dr., Ste. 310, Littleton

Dandy Lion Coffee

Dandy Lion Coffee
Dandy Lion Coffee has a plant boutique on-site. Photo courtesy of Dandy Lion Coffee.

Question: How do you make a traditional coffee shop even better? Answer: Combine it with a plant shop. Tucked in an unassuming building on 38th Avenue in Park Hill, walking inside Dandy Lion transports you to a beautifully designed, relaxing world of caffeine and botanicals. Co-owner Duc Huynh (also the brain behind Vinh Xuong Bakery) uses local Huckleberry Roasters beans for perfect cortados, floral lavender lattes, and slow-dripped Kyoto-style iced coffee. Whimsical design touches—from moss beneath the espresso bar to a high-tech Vestaboard display—encourage lingering. That’s especially true if you’re a plant fanatic, as Duc’s wife and co-owner Dominique Huynh creates magical plant displays. Marvel at her fanciful terrariums and pick up a few new plant babies from the retail area—or sign up for one of the shop’s terrarium workshops.

Drink: The sweet and spicy Ollie’s Drink (named for the owners’ son), a blend of iced chai, toffee nut syrup, and macadamia milk
Eat: Rebel Bread and Hearth Bakery pastries
Booze? Beer and wine
5225 E. 38th Ave.

Hearth Bakery

Close up on a barista pouring latte art.
Latte art from Hearth Bakery. Photo courtesy of Hearth Bakery

Small but mighty is the adage of this gem opened last September, which is tucked behind Uchi in RiNo. While baked goods are a big part of the draw, beans from Hearth’s sister coffee company, Tablón Coffee, make for delicious americanos, mochas, and cortados. Or sip your way through Ecuadorian nano-lots, including beautifully roasted Pepe Jijón Caturra, Geisha, and Typica offerings. Mindful packaging is also appreciated, whether it be a gorgeous ceramic mug from Denver-based Fenway Clayworks for in-house drinks, reusable jars for to-go lattes, or stylish branded jars for Tablón’s take-home beans. Be sure to get there early if you want to snag one of Hearth’s fresh-baked pastries, which use house-milled grains for everything from hearty loaves of sourdough bread to croissants to raspberry and white chocolate scones. The tiny space only houses a few tables, so plan to take your goods to-go or enjoy the dog-friendly patio in the warmer months.

Drink:  The Jeff, which combines caramelized coconut condensed milk, espresso, and your milk of choice
Eat: A house-baked spinach artichoke Danish or a chocolate tahini cookie
Booze? No
2500 Lawrence St., Unit 200

Little Owl Coffee

First opened in 2013, Little Owl has long been a destination for excellent espresso craftsmanship, but that became even more true when it began roasting its own beans in 2018. The coffee lineup tends to focus on fruitier, natural process, single-origin beans, although we suggest tasting the signature Penrose blend—a South American blend with a chocolatey, citrusy vibe—in a perfect cortado or in one of Little Owl’s seasonal, often island-inspired drink specials.

The LoHi location boasts a gorgeous, earthy interior, but we love grabbing an umbrella-topped table on the street-side outdoor patio for a coffee catch up. Or, if you’re downtown, swing by the location at 410 17th Street, which anchors the lobby of a high rise and is adorned with glittery ceiling lights and a sleek marble-topped espresso bar.

Drink: The espresso tonic, a bright, refreshing sipper made with local Strongwater tonic water
Eat: Reunion Bread pastries and Pandemic Donuts, plus LoDough pastries at the Blake Street location
Booze? Wine, beer, and cocktails at the 17th Street location, with a boozy menu coming soon to the LoDo location
2731 17th St.; 1555 Blake St.; 410 17th St.

Tonantzin Casa de Café

A Latin ceramic mug with horchata latte.
Tonantzin’s horchata latte. Photo by Ethan Pan

Tucked just out of view from Santa Fe Drive, Tonantzin’s secluded terrace, ensconced with bright pink and yellow walls and adorned with rainbow papel picado flags, is well worth seeking out. Even if the weather isn’t nice enough for a patio sesh, however, the Indigenous- and Latin American–inspired menu is a standout. The welcoming baristas will happily guide you through drinks like atole (a spiced masa-based beverage) and unique lattes flavored with dulce de leche, horchata, or Mexican spice, all of which are served in artisan pottery from Latin America. Grab a breakfast empanada or pan dulce and spend the morning catching up with a friend on the patio for a restorative escape right in the city.

Drink: The sweet-spicy mocha picante
Eat: Burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, panini, and assorted Latin-inspired pastries and treats
Booze? No
910 Santa Fe Dr., Unit 6

Unravel Coffee

Many coffee shops talk about sustainability, but one clue that Unravel takes this imperative seriously is that all to-go drinks come in glass jars rather than paper cups. (If you bring that glass jar back to the cafe, you’ll save $0.50 on your next drink.) That uncommon level of thoughtfulness and attention extends throughout the Unravel experience. Beans are sourced directly from Unravel’s own Ethiopian farms (founder Steve Holt is a Novo Coffee and Ninety Plus Coffee alum who started his own coffee farming company back in 2006). In addition to the seed-to-cup model, Unravel roasts small batches of its coffees in-house using zero-emissions Bellwether roasters. These fully electric, automated roasters are built right into the barista counters at each Unravel location.

Since founding the Denver location in 2019, Holt has been aggressively growing Unravel, with locations inside Gravity Haus hotels in Breckenridge, Vail, and Winter Park. Its most recent outpost in Aspen opened this past December.

Drink: Unravel’s popular Two Stitch Blend, which combines beans from two regions in Ethiopia and was developed as an entry to specialty coffee for folks who are accustomed to Starbucks
Eat: Rather than pastries, Unravel offers an Australian-cafe-inspired menu, including tartines, a breakfast sandwich, and smoothies. Try the fig toast with crème fraîche and pistachios.
Booze? Available at all of the mountain town locations (sorry, Denverites)
1441 S. Holly St., Denver; 605 S. Park Ave. Breckenridge; 352 E. Meadow Dr., Vail; 78869 US Hwy. 40, Winter Park; 315 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen

Weathervane Cafe

Hanging out at this beloved Uptown coffee shop feels like spending time at your cool aunt’s house, which also happens to have amazing coffee and tasty, healthful bites. Mismatched vintage couches, two levels of seating, a large retail area, and a recently expanded outdoor patio offer plenty of cozy nooks perfect for chilling or chatting, while hanging plants and eclectic thrift-store art give the space an unpretentious feel. Weathervane does not offer Wi-Fi and discourages long laptop sessions to facilitate a sociable, upbeat vibe in the shop.

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. Love Weathervane’s aesthetic? Check out their sister business, Flying Moon Cabins.

Drink: Weathervane’s signature Happy Camper Latte, sweetened with smoky maple syrup and garnished with a dusting of fragrant pine sugar
Eat: The affordable food menu has breakfast and lunch sandwiches served on City Bakery ciabatta, along with salads, a can’t-miss rotating seasonal chia pudding and Pandemic Donuts on the weekends.
Booze? No
1725 E. 17th Ave.

Best in Drinks

Convivio Café

A plate with a mug of coffee and champurrada cookies on top.
Coffee and champurradas from Convivio Café. Photo by Gabriel Wahl

Despite opening in late 2022, this gorgeous Berkeley spot already feels like a well-loved staple thanks to its community roots and focus on Guatemalan and Latinx artisans. Founders Kristin Lacy and Vivi Lemus first met at the nonprofit Re:Vision in Westwood, where they hatched the idea for a bilingual, community-centric coffee shop, which hosts monthly English/Spanish language meetups and coffee classes. Bedecked with intricate black and white murals from local artists Jordan Lempke and Spike, dangling string lights, and hand-made Guatemalan hibiscus flower accent tiles on the espresso bar, the space is a thoughtfully constructed venue for their unique offerings. Sip the café del dia, which rotates between Guatemalan Gento, Paralelo 14, and Chica Bean Nuevo Oriente coffees, or the licuado de lulo, a smoothie made with a citrus from Colombia.

Drink: Café con leche y cardamom, a latte featuring house-made cardamom syrup
Eat: Guatemalan treats such as champurradas (buttery sesame cookies), ponche scones studded with dried fruit, and alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies), plus scratch-made savory bites such as tostadas, refried beans with chips, burritos, and soups
Booze? No
4935 W. 38th Ave.

Corvus 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 original Broadway location, where bar-style seating gives you a front-row view of the roasting action. But if you want to see the team roasting small batches of interesting beans, including highly sought after, small-lot selections from Corvus’ new Exotic and Reserve lines, you’ll need to make your way down to the Littleton location.

There, in addition to roasting coffee, Corvus also houses the Fox & the Raven bakery, an artisanal bakeshop that produces naturally leavened breads and pastries using Colorado heirloom grains milled in-house. Luckily for Denverites, Fox & the Raven’s pastries and breads are available at all Corvus locations.

Drink: The limited-run Geshas and heirloom Sidras from the Exotic and Reserve lines almost always sell out in advance of roasting (although occasionally you’ll find them available to try in-house via pour-over). If you’re looking to score a few coveted ounces of these beans, sign up for Corvus’ newsletter or subscription service.
Eat: Focaccia sandwiches
Booze? No
1740 S. Broadway; 1580 E. 39th Ave.; 4925 S. Newport St.; 5846 S. Wadsworth Blvd, Ste. 3500, Littleton; 9528 W. 58th Ave., Arvada

Huckleberry Roasters

Huckleberry Roasters inside the Dairy Block in downtown Denver. Photo by Victoria Carodine

There’s a lot to love at Huckleberry’s expanding collection of cafes, from the cheerful, trendy design to the perennially pleasant employees. But some of Huckleberry’s house-roasted beans have made headlines the past few years. After winning the U.S. Roaster Championship in 2019, Huckleberry’s Shelby Williamson became the first woman ever to represent the U.S. at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Taiwan that year. The coffee company also won Roast Magazine’s 2022 Macro Roaster of the Year award and hosts internationally acclaimed Barista League events. That level of expertise is evident in Huckleberry’s lineup of single-origin offerings and blends, from boutique selections like the bright Ethiopia Banko Dhadato to the Good Food Award–winning Phantom Limb blend. Of Huckleberry’s four Denver outposts, we like taking out-of-towners to the Dairy Block location adjacent to the Maven Hotel lobby, where there’s plenty of spread-out seating and great people watching. Pro tip for you alt milk fans out there: Huckleberry does not charge extra for oat milk.

Drink: The seasonal lavender rosemary latte
Eat: All locations serve toasts, Rebel Bread pastries, and Bonfire breakfast burritos.
Booze? No
1850 Wazee St.; 4301 Pecos St.; 4040 Tennyson St.; 277 N. Broadway; 5990 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge; a Larimer Square location will open in 2024

Jubilee Roasting Co.

Jubilee Roasting has a sweet patio. Photo courtesy of Jubilee Roasting

One of Denver’s best roasters is actually based in North Aurora. Jubilee’s roasters have a knack for bringing out the most complex, balanced flavor from their thoughtfully sourced beans, as you’ll gather from one sip of espresso. The cozy Aurora shop is buttressed by a warehouse that owner Peter Wanberg converted into art studios for local creatives. That energy infuses the cafe, as does plenty of sunlight and fresh air from the garage doors. Jubilee’s “be a good neighbor” ethos shines in the amiable staff and monthly cupping classes.

Drink: Ask for an off-menu One & One—a double shot of espresso divided into a macchiato and a neat espresso, so you can taste the coffee with milk and without.
Eat: Breakfast burritos, toasts, sandwiches, Hearth Bakery pastries, and Pandemic Donuts
Booze? No
1452 Kenton St, Aurora; 1075 Park Avenue West, Ste. 110

Lavender Coffee Boutique

A heart-shaped latte with a flower.
A drink from Lavender Coffee Boutique. Photo courtesy of Lavender Coffee Boutique

Part luxe coffee shop, part retail boutique, Lavender houses a gorgeous espresso bar with intentionally crafted drinks, as well as curated natural products to improve your skin and body care, wellness, fitness, and sleep routines. Founder Lindsey Sozio’s vision to marry wellness with coffee manifests in CBD-infused beverages, low-acid roasts, and delicate house-made syrups in flavors like fig and rose for not-too-sweet specialty drinks. Lavender roasts its own beans, focusing on coaxing softer flavor profiles from its single-origin offerings and best-selling Pearl Street Blend. Sozio, who has a background in interior design, outfitted the indoor space with a calming palette of deep grays, zigzagging blond wood flooring, and minimalist art. Pro tip: Lavender is in the process of building out a patio space out back, which will offer a relaxing oasis for sipping its batched iced lattes in the warmer months.

Drink: A CBD-infused latte with the house-made Earl Grey lavender syrup, or anything from the seasonal menu
Eat: Rebel Bread bakery items and vegan goodies from Bosco Baking Co.
Booze? No
1219 S. Pearl St.

Moonflower Coffee

A herat-shaped purple latte on a wooden table.
Moonflower’s ube latte. Photo by Callie Sumlin

Co-owners Jason Haygarth and Sam Salomon started Moonflower Coffee as a mobile cart in 2023 and have since taken up residency at Full Tank Food Park near Sloan’s Lake, where they sling lattes Friday through Sunday each week. Despite the limited hours, Moonflower quickly became one of our favorite coffee shops thanks to its eclectic ambiance in a refabbed garage and the utterly unique Filipino-inspired drinks. The fruity Flourish Ethiopian blend, locally roasted by Servant Coffee, forms the foundation of the espresso drinks. The ube latte is one of Moonflower’s most popular drinks, combining espresso, steamed milk, and Salomon’s house-made ube (Filipino purple yam) syrup for a delicious, vibrantly purple drink.

Note: Moonflower’s special event permit ends in May, at which time, it will close as it turns its site at Full Tank Food Park into a coffee shop and bar concept.

Drink: The ube latte or a pandan matcha latte
Eat: Suzette’s Bakery pastries, including a sourdough croissant and cappuccino morning bun
Booze? No
4200 W. Colfax Ave.

Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters

Sweet Bloom in Westminster, one of the shop’s three locations. Photo courtesy of Sweet Bloom

For serious coffee connoisseurs, a visit to Sweet Bloom should be at the top of the list. Founder and championship-winning barista Andy Sprenger’s socially conscious approach to coffee buying and roasting takes the direct-trade-sourcing model even further. Whereas third-wave roasters visiting coffee farms isn’t unusual, it’s not as common for the coffee farmers to visit the U.S. shops where their specialty coffees are prepared and served. Sprenger regularly brings representatives of the farms it purchases from to its Lakewood roasting facility, where they can meet the consumers at the end of the supply chain and share the story of their farm.

In 2019, Sweet Bloom gained a stylish cafe in Westminster, giving folks on the west side of the city three outposts to choose from. If you’re not usually a black coffee drinker, you might be a convert after one of the pro baristas prepares you the perfect pour-over.

Drink: The honey-processed (a type of processing where the skin of the fresh coffee cherry is stripped, but fruit is left on the seed while drying) José Hernández coffee from Antigua, Guatemala, a supremely balanced cup with berry and chocolate notes
Eat: Pastries are baked daily for all three Sweet Blooms.
Booze? No
1619 N. Reed St., Lakewood; 7745 Wadsworth Blvd, Ste. C, Arvada; 8850 Westminster Blvd., Westminster

Tí Cafe

Drinks at Tí Cafe
Cafe Trung (Vietnamese egg coffee) at Tí Cafe. Photo courtesy of Tí Cafe

Owned by a trio of sisters, this small Broadway cafe is Denver’s first standalone Vietnamese coffee shop. The sisters import stronger, more caffeinated robusta beans straight from Vietnam to achieve the robust flavor profile Vietnamese coffee is known for. These beans shine in classic hot and cold Vietnamese coffee preparations as well as the sisters’ renditions of concoctions like egg coffee, in which Vietnamese espresso is topped with a frothy, caramel-y foam cloud of whipped egg yolk and condensed milk and topped with cocoa powder. House-made sodas and teas, as well as intricate moon cakes (both traditional and vegan, gluten-free snow skin varieties) and pastries round out the offerings. Note: This petite and stylish shop doesn’t have a patio or tons of indoor seating, so it’s better suited for a quick meet-up with a friend than a long study session.

Drink: For a sweet treat, try the Flan Cafe Sua Da, a marriage of Vietnamese iced coffee with a fluffy flan topping
Eat: Locally made mooncakes and rotating pastries from local specialty bakers
Booze? No
30 N. Broadway

Where to Work

The Bardo Coffee House

One of the best things about the Bardo—in addition to its tasty specialty drinks and laid-back vibe—is how late its locations stay open (midnight for Wheat Ridge and Broadway; 10 p.m. for Wadsworth Boulevard). Whether you’re looking for an alternative to a bar or an evening study spot, the Bardo’s extended hours make it a welcome nighttime java destination in a city with too few of them. The Bardo’s relaxed retro-fab Wheat Ridge location has plenty of seating for work or studying, a decorative phone booth, and even a printer available for guest use, and the Wadsworth location offers a community meeting room. Plan accordingly, however, as WiFi use is limited to two hours per guest.

Drink: The Valencia mocha, which marries dark chocolate syrup with a hint of orange, espresso, and steamed milk
Eat: House-made breakfast burritos with from-scratch green chile, plus local grab-and-go sandwiches from Overt Denver, Handcraft pastries, Leroy’s Bagels, and Share Good Foods oatmeal
Booze? Beer and wine
238 South Broadway; 6150 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge; 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Unit C105, Lakewood

Crema Coffee House

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 baked goods, 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, standalone Larimer Street location, where you can enjoy your pork belly banh mi and cold brew on the patio. Heads up: Crema offers Wi-Fi 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
Booze? No
2862 Larimer St.; Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer St.

Glissade Coffee Company

Glissade's espresso bar and fireplace.
Glissade Coffee Company. Photo by From the Hip Photo

There are so many details that make Glissade’s year-old Aurora cafe and roastery special. Specialty coffee industry veteran Sean Harwin created a relaxing community haven in an old airport communication building with plenty of seating, including cozy seats around a chic fireplace. Harwin’s ethos revolves around taking care of his supply chain and his employees; thus, his commitment to quality starts at the farm, which guests can taste in the chocolatey yet fruity Chute espresso blend, featuring a natural Brazilian coffee from Carmo de Minas that Harwin has been buying from farmer Sergio Dias and his family for more than a decade. Meanwhile, all of Glissade’s employees receive 100 percent coverage of medical benefits, 401k match, and paid time off.

Glissade also prioritizes accessibility, which is why it accepts cash and doesn’t charge extra for alternative milks (including delicious-with-coffee macadamia nut milk). Glissade also hosts a running club that sees around 100 runners and walkers show up every Sunday and regularly holds special events for the Denver chapters of Black Men Run and Latinos Run.

Drink: The Glissade Chill, a double shot of espresso shaken over ice with half and half, vanilla, and maple
Eat: Flaky pastries from nearby Bánh and Butter Bakery Café, gluten-free baked goods from Spruce Confections, and breakfast burritos from Dis Burrito
Booze? Beer and wine
2520 Galena St., Unit 3, Aurora

LaTinto Café

La Chiva Colombian Cuisine owners Jorge and Carmen Aguirre opened LaTinto Café in 2023 as a community gathering space just across South Broadway from their restaurant. While the bakery case, packed with scratch-made Colombian treats, lures many a curious customer off the street, the cafe has a spacious dining room where folks can enjoy a full breakfast menu, including dishes like huevos pericos (Colombian-style scrambled eggs) and changua (milk and egg soup). The thoughtful coffee menu spotlights organic, single-origin coffee beans from independent farms in Colombia. Roasted locally in Edwards, Colorado by Grounded Micro Roasting, these beans are exclusively available at LaTinto and make a delicious campesino coffee, which is lightly sweetened with aguapanela, a mix of natural sugar and water, and more.

Drink: The LaTinto specialty latte, which is lightly sweetened with panela and infused with a dash of cinnamon
Eat: Buñuelos (cheese fritters), sweet empanadas filled with guava and cheese, pan coco (sweet bread with vanilla and coconut), and other scratch-made delights from the bakery case
Booze? No
1417 S. Broadway

Pablo’s Coffee

As one of Denver’s OG coffee roasters, Pablo’s has spent nearly three decades cultivating a strong community of coffee enthusiasts at its three Denver locations. We love the tiny Pennsylvania Street location (housed in a renovated garage), but if you’re looking to sit and hang out, the massive, five-year-old East Colfax headquarters, which houses Pablo’s offices, roaster, and a cupping lab, can’t be beat. Floor-to-ceiling windows, plants galore, and ample seating make the perfect backdrop for sipping one of Pablo’s responsibly sourced signature blends or single-origin roasts.

Drink: The perfectly balanced Danger Monkey blend (Bonus: you get a free refill with purchase of drip coffee)
Eat: Pastries and breakfast burritos
Booze? No
7701 E. Colfax Ave.; 630 E. Sixth Ave.; 1300 Pennsylvania St., Ste. 102

Prodigy Coffeehouse

Prodigy Coffehouse
Prodigy Coffeehouse. Photo by Hillary Frances

More than just a coffee shop, Prodigy is actually a nonprofit that offers educational barista apprenticeship programs to youth in north Denver. The apprentices hone their barista and customer service skills under the social enterprise model, while the communities get vibrant gathering spaces and top-notch craft coffee shops serving local Strava Craft Coffee beans. The easy-to-spot shop Elyria-Swansea location is decked out in bright murals and boasts garage doors that open to a large patio area. The Globeville shop, which opened in late 2022 in a former motorcycle maintenance garage, boasts a four-season shaded patio, walk-up window, and Craft Coffee Learning Lab and Community Space.

Drink: The house-made horchata latte
Eat: House-made hand-held waffles (the recipe for which was co-designed with the help of Moxie Bread Company), breakfast burritos, and pastries by Rebel Bread
Booze? No
3801 E. 40th Ave.; 4500 Broadway

Quince Coffee House

Located in a literal house off Colfax in east Park Hill, this inclusive and welcoming shop is as homey as they come. The space is divided up into smaller rooms and nooks where you’ll find neighbors engaged in conversation, playing one of the provided board games, or cozying up with a book. Friendly staffers are more than happy to walk you through the menu, which includes drinks made with locally roasted First Crack Coffee and Konjo Ethiopian Coffee beans, as well as whimsical seasonal specials, such as monthly zodiac-inspired features that correlate with your sun sign.

Drink: Locally brewed, honey-sweetened Sanctuary Chai
Eat: Traditional French pastries from Thornton’s La Belle French Bakery, vegan baked goods from Make Believe Bakery, gluten-free cakes from Danny Cakes, plus burritos, sandwiches, and quiches
Booze? No
1447 Quince St.

Steam Espresso Bar

Steam Espresso Bar owners Hani and Zahi Yaafouri excel in creating warm, stylish third spaces. Opened in 2013, Steam’s Platt Park location offers lots of sunlight indoors and an especially charming and verdant patio space with walk-up windows. We love the spacious Tejon Street location for a work session with colleagues. Housed in a firehouse originally constructed in 1909, the historic space comes to life with abundant greenery and seating, bright red oversize doors that open to 36th Street, an old phone booth for taking calls, and walls lined with sundry goods. The menu at both locations is on the simpler side, forgoing syrups and seasonal specials and focusing on properly brewed beans from Huckleberry Roasters and Boxcar Coffee Roasters and a made-to-order fresh juice program at the LoHi location.

Drink: The mocha, which features dark chocolate melted into the espresso and velvety steamed milk
Eat: Trompeau and Izzio Bakery pastries, oatmeal
Booze? No
1801 S. Pearl St.; 3600 Tejon St.

Whittier Cafe

A group of customers dining on the patio at Whittier Cafe.
Whittier Cafe’s open patio space. Photo courtesy of Whittier Cafe

The best coffee shops also function as community gathering centers. Ten-year-old Whittier Cafe excels at this, hosting monthly rotating art exhibits from neighborhood icons such as Bob Ragland, social justice events, and a weekly Sunday East African coffee ceremony. 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, house-made paninis, and Spruce Confections pastries
Booze? A lineup of African wines and beers
1710 E. 25th Ave.

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.