When Sashaline, Shominic, and Shasitie Nguyen realized they could only find Vietnamese coffee at pho restaurants in Denver, the sisters brewed up a plan to open the city’s first shop dedicated to the potent drink: Tí Cafe (pronounced “thee”), which debuted in June on Broadway. Inside the petite, cheery storefront, the counter is lined with metal coffee filters called phins that allow hot water to slowly drip over ground Robusta coffee beans from Vietnam.

Combining the notoriously bold and bitter beans with the drip method results in a highly caffeinated concoction that’s conventionally served black or with condensed milk. It’s a customary preparation that the Nguyens—whose parents moved from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) to the United States in 1975—honor at the cafe. But the menu’s more modern offerings are a nod to their sisterhood (tí is a term of endearment meaning “little” in Vietnamese). Taste it in the Cafe Sua Da, an iced eye-opener that can be made nondairy with creamy coconut condensed milk and an oat milk top, or, for a dessertlike treat, try the flan version capped with discs of fluffy custard. “We love crafting the coffee,” Sashaline says, “and coming up with variations on the traditions together.”

Meet the three sisters behind the cafe >>

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This article was originally published in 5280 December 2021.
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.