The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Walk into Felix Roasting Co., and you’ll smell coffee—good coffee—mixed with a hint of hickory smoke and sweet, house-made pastries. You’ll hear the hum of conversation, the pattering of fingers on keyboards, and the intermittent buzz of the espresso machine. Your eyes won’t know where to land as they devour the velour couches, the brazen wallpaper, and the handsome raised panel oak bar. And that’s all before you’ve had the first taste of your latte, matcha, or whipped ricotta and fig toast.
There’s no question: Aspen’s newest coffee shop offers a veritable feast for the senses.
Situated inside the town’s historic Hotel Jerome (though with its own storefront), the custom roastery opened its Aspen outpost—the first location outside of New York City—in early September. And despite its maximalist experience, it aims to be a source of respite in the midst of a guest’s busy day.
From ingredients to décor, Felix is a bean-to-cup operation. The coffee is sourced directly from the farmer, chosen for its seasonality, and roasted by Felix’s in-house team. The nut and oat milks are made just for Felix. Even the aesthetic—right down to the sugar packets—was meticulously crafted. “We try to really curate the entire experience from A to Z,” says founder and CEO Matthew Moinian.
Among the most elegant examples of this highly detailed process is the signature hickory smoked s’mores latte, which, at $18, is the most expensive coffee drink on the menu, but it comes with a show (and is sure to boost your number of Instagram followers). A barista makes the decadent caffeine hit to order, mixing steamed, graham-cracker-infused milk, and a shot of espresso. It’s served in a dark-chocolate- and graham-cracker-rimmed martini glass and garnished with a hickory stick and marshmallow—the latter, a treat the barista torches while the latte smokes. All of the ingredients (as well as the smoker and serving glass) are personally sourced or made in-house. “These are all the things we like to do that are above and beyond the traditional café experience,” Moinian says. “It’s sort of my ode to coffee.”
Moinian remembers how, when he turned 30, “my vitality just fell off a cliff.” He felt tired throughout the day and had gained some weight. It was coffee—a shot of instant java, to be exact—that gave him enough of a caffeine jolt to get to the gym one morning—and many mornings after that. “Coffee changed my life,” he says. “It made me feel younger, more energetic. It really made a dramatic shift.”
Back then, Moinian was working as a lawyer for his family’s business, the Moinian Group, which ranks among the largest privately held real estate investment companies in the world. Moinian’s own $60 million project, Hotel Hugo, had just been received to high acclaim. But in 2014, his corner office overlooking Central Park began feeling a bit stuffy. “I decided that an office wasn’t the place for me, and I wanted to be a creative person,” he says, likening it to the cliché of the successful businessperson who leaves Wall Street to buy a Napa Valley winery. “Felix is my version of that.”
It took Moinian four years to put together his dream team, including the in-demand interior designer Ken Fulk and a James Beard Award–nominated chef, who created the company’s Insta-worthy coffee cocktails. “I only wanted the best,” Moinian says of Felix’s inner circle. “When they were ready to do it, that’s when we started.”
Choosing Aspen as the first location beyond the Big Apple was a personal choice on Moinian’s part (he proposed to his wife on Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen Gondola), but he’s also confident the town’s clientele will appreciate the Felix experience—and not just those flying in on their private jets. With most of their beverages in the $5 to $10 range, it’s approachable for locals, too.
Alberto Nieto Williams, the Aspen location’s manager, hopes Felix will become the obvious choice for Hotel Jerome guests as well as for employees on their way to work and remote employees vying for office space along with a cappuccino. “This corner, from being not too well known, is becoming Felix,” he says.
No matter how long a guest stays, whether it’s five minutes or a couple hours, the goal is to offer a “transformative environment” at an approachable price point, Moinian says. “Whatever you’d like to do, we’re there for you—and the price of admission is a latte.”