For Debbie Kuehn, cookies are a way of life, quite literally. Kuehn is the owner and sole daytime employee of the Santa Fe Cookie Company, her 31-year-old bakery housed in a subterranean space beneath the 16th Street Mall at Tremont Street. Walk into the tiny shop and help yourself to the treats displayed in little white paper bags tucked into loaf pans. Drop your money—just a buck for three—into a plastic jug, honor-system style.

Meanwhile, you’ll be able to spot Kuehn behind the counter, head down as she slides sheet pans of dough in and out of the hot oven. She bakes dozens upon dozens of cookies (not to mention cupcakes and brownies) herself each day and hasn’t hired a counter person in more than 15 years. “People are pretty honest,” she says.

Trusting in the common good is one thing, but the real glory of Kuehn’s simple system is the unparalleled freshness of the treats. “I just bake all day. It’s volume and the freshness that allows me to keep prices low.”

Bite into one of her still-warm chocolate chip cookies, and you’ll understand the shop’s longevity. 303 16th St., Suite 12A, 303-623-0919

This article was originally published in 5280 October 2016.
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.