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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 23 picks in Denver and the surrounding ‘burbs, organized in alphabetical order.
Editor’s Note: This living list of the best coffee shops was last updated on January 26, 2023. Did we miss your favorite? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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; 8 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. 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, City Bakery 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
Blue Sparrow Coffee
Design lovers will delight in coffee industry veteran Jeffrey Knott’s aesthetically pleasing Blue Sparrow cafes. 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 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 launched its Single-Use Initiative at the start of 2022 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
3070 Blake St., Ste. 180; 1615 Platte St., Ste. 135
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 non-profit Re:Vision in Westwood, where they hatched the idea for a bilingual, community-centric coffee shop. 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 and Paralelo 14 coffees or the rosa de jamaica agua fresca, a tangy iced drink made with hibiscus.
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 savory antojitos such as tostadas and refried beans with chips
4935 W. 38th Ave.
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 three locations across the Mile High City or its Littleton outpost in Aspen Grove. The dreamy, two-year-old 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 and French for Sugar
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1085 York St.; 7581 E. Academy Blvd.; the Yard, 900 W. First Ave., Ste. 180; Aspen Grove, 7301 S. Santa Fe Dr., Ste. 310, Littleton
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 two-year-old 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: Baguette breakfast sandwiches and River Bear American Meats charcuterie sandos
1740 S. Broadway, Denver; 4925 S. Newport St.; 5846 S. Wadsworth Blvd, Ste. 3500, Littleton; 9528 W. 58th Ave., Arvada
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
2862 Larimer St.; Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer St.
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.
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 pastries
Booze: Beer and wine
5225 E. 38th Ave.
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 Hatch green chile and cheddar twirl pastry
2500 Lawrence St., Unit 200
There’s a lot to love at Huckleberry’s collection of Denver 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. That level of expertise is evident in Huckleberry’s lineup of single-origin offerings and blends, from boutique selections like the fruit-bomb Ethiopia Chelbesa natural 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.
1850 Wazee St.; 4301 Pecos St.; 4040 Tennyson St.; 277 N. Broadway
Part bar, part coffee shop, you could truly spend all day at this Capitol Hill hotspot. The stylish space—exposed beams and ducting, warm wood floors, brick walls, hanging plants, and blue and white tiles—is perfect for a breakfast meeting or pensive study sesh. The table service is uncommonly attentive and warm. Locally roasted Middle State Coffee beans are nicely extracted into perfect cortados and cappuccinos, or go for the whipped Dalgona coffee for a fun, frothy treat. Ready to transition to happy hour? No need to relocate. Hudson Hill’s craft cocktails (or non-alcoholic bevvies) and snacky food menu go from day to night seamlessly.
Drink: A lavender oat milk latte
Eat: La Fillette pastries, including a savory green chile cheddar roll
619 E. 13th Ave.
Jubilee Roasting Co.
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 creative 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 affordable, $2 drip coffee.
Drink: The 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, in-house baked pastries
1452 Kenton St, Aurora; 1075 Park Ave. W., Ste. 110
A mother-and-daughter team are behind this bright, cheery, and spacious RiNo cafe. The name, an Afrikaans slang word meaning “tasty” or “fantastic,” and the rhino mural by Pat Milbery of So-Gnar Creative hint at the shop’s larger mission. After spending a summer volunteering with Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa, daughter Kara Finkelstein became passionate about rhino conservation, and a full 10 percent of the cafe’s proceeds are donated to Care For Wild. While the cafe’s philanthropic focus might be global, the sourcing is local. Lekker’s commitment to the community is evident in the bevy of locally sourced goods, from Novo Coffee beans to Onefold breakfast burritos to Rebel Bread pastries. Bonus: If you’re in a rush, grab your coffee to-go from the takeout window.
Drink: The horchata latte
Eat: Black Box pastries, Pandemic Donuts, Little Man Ice Cream, and Onefold breakfast burritos
Booze: Oh, yes. Local beer, wine, and cocktails (cold brew martinis!)
3460 Larimer St.
As one of Denver’s OG coffee roasters, Pablo’s has spent nearly thirty years 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
7701 E. Colfax Ave.; 630 E. Sixth Ave.; 1300 Pennsylvania St., Ste. 102
Plant Magic Cafe
If there were an award for the chillest coffee shop, Plant Magic Cafe would win it. Located in Capitol Hill’s historic Cranmer Sterling House (designed by the same architect behind the Brown Palace), you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the red-capped inflatable mushrooms outside the sunny, south-facing front patio. Inside, you’ll be greeted by the smell of incense and the sound of ambient music so relaxing you could meditate to it. Order a (non-psychedelic) mushroom coffee from the counter and sink into one of the blue velvet chairs or built-in wooden booths. Admire the eye-catching glass light fixtures, crystals, and plentitude of live plants and soak up the positive vibes. Want even more of those good vibes? Check out Plant Magic Cafe’s schedule of educational community events, including plant medicine seminars and cacao ceremonies.
Drink: A functional mushroom–infused chaggaccino magic latte
Eat: Pastries, quiches, breakfast burritos, and gluten-free and vegan soups
925 E. 17th Ave.
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, breakfast tortas from Prieto’s Catering, and pastries by Rebel Bread
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 Coffeeand 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
1447 Quince St.
Stella’s Coffee Haus
An Olde South Pearl Street staple since 1991, Stella’s is one of Denver’s best-loved spots for studying and working as it boasts a labyrinth of rooms, ample tables and charging outlets, and strong WiFi. Housed in a quirky cottage, the spot has a DIY community feel, with local art on the walls and stacks of local publications for the taking. The dog-friendly, fire-pit-bedecked patio is the perfect spot to people watch on Pearl, especially since Stella’s stays open until 10 p.m. nightly. Drinks are made with local Lost Coffee beans and include seasonal barista specials such as French toast, marzipan, and spicy ginger lattes.
Drink: An iced vanilla latte with the house-made syrup
Eat: Locally sourced pastries, including gluten-free options
1476 S. Pearl St.
Stylus & Crate
Great coffee? Check. Extra-kind baristas? Check. Hot, fresh waffles so delicious they’re worth driving across town for? Check. Vinyl tunes? Also check. Since opening in June of 2020 in a newly renovated building, this shop has quickly become a local Wheat Ridge favorite. Drinks are made with Queen City Collective beans and house-made syrups, and there are plenty of family-friendly options, too, such as Italian sodas and artisan hot chocolates. The intentionality behind the whole operation is best demonstrated by the record player: The staff encourages patrons to bring in their own albums to play, and there’s a mini vinyl shop in the back to browse. Whatever you do, do not miss the authentic Belgian liège waffles. These yeasty, pearl sugar–speckled delights are made hot and fresh on an imported waffle iron and are so good plain, we couldn’t imagine ordering them with the optional, lily-gilding toppings.
Drink: A chagaccino, which is a latte boosted with a blend of antioxidant-packed chaga mushrooms, raw cacao, and cinnamon
Eat: Belgian liège waffles, sweet and savory toasts, and cake pops
6985 W. 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters
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.
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. After merging with Two Rivers Coffee in 2019, Sweet Bloom gained a super-stylish cafe in Westminster, giving folks on the west side of the city three outposts to choose from.
Drink: The honey-processed (a type of processing that involves stripping the skin off of the fresh coffee cherry, but leaving fruit 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. Mark your calendar and set your alarm for the first Saturday of each month, when the Arvada location serves seasonal doughnuts that sell out by 10 a.m.
1619 N. Reed St., Lakewood; 7745 Wadsworth Blvd, Suite C., Arvada; 8850 Westminster Blvd., Westminster
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, sesame balls, meat pies, and macarons
30 N. Broadway
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
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 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. Pro-tip: Order online for speedier food pickup.
1725 E. 17th Ave.
The best coffee shops also function as community gathering centers. Whittier Cafe excels at this, hosting art exhibits from neighborhood icons such as Bob Ragland, social justice events, and a weekly Sunday Ethiopian 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.