Denver's Best Coffee Shops for a Pick-Me-Up
You could use a boost.
Denver's love of coffee is indisputable. The city’s dedication to craft coffee, cozy atmospheres, and ethically sourced ingredients shows in the plethora of successful, independent shops. Spanning from RiNo to South Broadway, there are enough options to make your next pick-me-up (and the one after that, and the one after… ) the best cup of joe yet, and in digs that look and feel pretty cool, too. There’s no way to capture all of Denver’s best coffee shops, but this list is a good jumping-off point.
Baker, Five Points
While there may be no such thing as perfection, balancing the craft of excellent coffee and also giving back to the roasters is something Queen City does very, very well. With deeply planted roots in the Denver community, QC established its first location in the Baker neighborhood, sharing space with Novel Strand Brewing Company. A Five Points location followed, as did the popularity among locals. What’s cool about Queen City’s coffee, aside from its quality and the warm atmosphere it’s brewed in, is that the owners—the Byington brothers—have close ties with their African coffee farmers and participate in a profit-sharing program. Good coffee brewed small-batch in Denver and only so long as the farming conditions are adequate is what we like to hear.
Some coffee shops just have that homey feel to them; it could be that the shop sits in a brick bungalow, or it might be the carefully thought-out farmhouse decor, or the warmth of the staff. In an impressive balancing act, Dirt Coffee has all three. But even more than just serving really, really good coffee (like, really good), this place also works daily to make a difference in the lives of neurodivergent folks. Stop by and be assured you’ll be served with a smile, and take note of the skill training happening behind the barista bar or the neurodivergent facts scattered like a game of iSpy across the shop. Your morning sip will be going to a good cause here.
New to the coffee shop scene in 2021 is this concept from the Neon Dad himself. JJ Bebout, who continues to roast the coffee for Broadway’s Roostercat (a definite must-stop in Cap Hill), has resurrected the space formerly occupied by the Brandin’ Iron Motel to bring his high-quality coffee to East Colfax. Pop by for a specially roasted blend from Ecuadorian or Kenyan beans or a latte all your own, and know it was made with pure love for the craft.
Denver’s art district is clearly buzzing with all the caffeine needed to fuel its artists and young professionals, and this corner spot is an ideal one for those professionals to work remotely, too. And even if coffee isn’t your thing, a variety of teas, fresh juices, and kombuchas are available. It’s also got bites both small and on the larger side—including a tempting pork belly banh mi sandwich—to accompany your hot or iced drink of choice. Stop by the flagship location and stay awhile or grab a quick cup at the Crema Bodega in Denver Central Market.
Congress Park, Berkeley, West Wash Park
Another coffee shop that locals—no matter which neighborhood you’re in—love to return to. And so what if it opened its third location just a few days before the whole world shut down? That definitely wasn’t going to stop Downpours from serving hit-the-spot, house-roasted coffee to its followers. Come for the sensational espresso, rotating seasonal flavors, and scratch-made milk alternatives, and stay for warm, buttery croissants fresh out of the oven. Pumpkin spice (made using real pumpkins) is back for the season, so make it snappy.
Also sharing space in the Baker neighborhood is this almost-hidden gem just a jaunt from the Santa Fe art district. Find cold brew, latte foam art, and really cool merch at this roll-in-off-the-sidewalk-on-your-wheels spot, which serves killer coffee and is decked out with plants and local art. It’s a great little cafe for getting work done or simply getting away—the atmosphere is bright and airy but the space is intimate. Grab a cup, settle in, and have yourself a day. Just don’t forget your mask at home, you’ll need it.
Baker & Wheat Ridge
Both locations of Bardo offer homey vibes, tasty lattes of both the coffee and tea variety, and both are open for socially distant in-house seating as well as pickup. The Baker location has free lot parking so you don’t need to mess with meters, and they’re currently doing delivery so you don’t even need to leave the house. If you do decide to stay for a bit, both locations have Wi-Fi, plus you also get access to a color printer. The big bonus: They're open daily until midnight for anyone whose productivity really kicks in after dark.
From the plants growing on the walls to the geometric designs on the bar, this coffee house has modern decor down. Come for the bright, welcoming atmosphere, stay for the craft coffee and -- bonus -- some amazing cocktails. Pair your caffeinated or boozy beverage with a cheese plate and some smoked bacon pate -- they’ve also added online ordering so pickup is a zero stress situation.
This spot’s been all about sustainable practices since before that term was commonplace. For over 40 years, they’ve been committed to partnering with farmers that are environmentally conscious and their approach just keeps on evolving. On top of that, the space is open and bright, the Internet is strong, the music’s kept at a work-friendly volume, and the parking is free so it’s a nice place to grab an espresso and light lunch if you need a break from the home office.
Tired of taking your lunch break in your own kitchen? This spot with stellar food and coffee is back open for dining in by reservation only. The coffee is from local roaster Boxcar, but the real draw here remains the fact that you can get a solid cup and super satisfying eats. Pick from small or large plates like the sourdough waffles or the amped up breakfast sandwich with ham (or avocado), sriracha mayo, eggs, local arugula, and house-made tomato chutney on a brioche bun. Pickup and delivery -- by bicycle! -- is also available.
Highland & RiNo
Each month, this spot features coffee from a different roaster that excels in three pillars: quality, sustainability, and community. This rotating, curated approach is unique and keeps the experience fresh. You can also opt for other specialty selections like CBD coffee, Japanese iced coffee, local kombucha on tap, and eats from community partners like La Fillette and Rebel Bread. Indoor seating made a triumphant return this summer for all your remote work, meeting, date, or simple coffee consumption needs.
This is more than a coffee shop. It’s also a nonprofit that provides youth access to apprenticeships, giving them the chance to develop business and leadership skills to help them make moves as they take on adulting. The space is a former Jiffy Lube, so they’ve got that repurposed look down. Prodigy also houses a bike library where you can become a member and then gain access to some wheels. You can dine-in here again both inside and on their patio, and they’ve got some new food options too, including handheld waffles and breakfast burritos from Preito’s. Not feeling up to getting out of your car? Good news: They recently opened a full-service drive-thru to accommodate those who are especially on-the-go.
Dairy Block & Sunnyside
What started in 2011 as a backyard garage roasting operation is now a US Roaster Championship winner with two cafe locations in Denver. Whether you go for an oat milk latte or drip coffee, you can be assured that you’re going to get the best quality around. Huckleberry is also known for being one of Denver’s most sustainable and ethical roasters, working with smallholder farms and coffee co-ops and supporting local and community-based businesses whenever possible. Both locations are back to offering indoor and outdoor seating but you can still order ahead for curbside pickup and be 100% safe while grabbing that cold brew limeade (perfect for summer) or seasonal spiced corn milk latte.
Located in (and named after) one of Denver’s lesser-known neighborhoods, this cafe is all about bringing together the community that surrounds it and serving entirely African-roasted coffee. Whittier Cafe not only has Ethiopian coffee ceremonies every Sunday—brewed in a “jebena,” by the way—but is also Denver’s only African espresso bar. And if you’ve never tried African beer, this is the place to do that, too. A diverse crowd, local art, and a completely unpretentious ambiance make this a place that’s perfect for getting out of the house and sipping on your favorite beverage in a sunny spot on the patio.
The flagship location of Logan House (which originally started as a home delivery coffee service) is located in the Stanley Marketplace, with the second in RiNo’s Catalyst HTI building. That means a stop for coffee also gives you the chance to support other local businesses in both community hubs. Sit and sip a seasonal beverage inside or out on one of the locations’ patios and soak up the sunlight either way (they’ve got natural lighting covered for daytime work sessions). Be sure not to miss any rotating pastries or treats, either.
We could also use a little dose of calm these days, right? You’ll find that here, thanks to their simple clean design with plenty of natural light, high-quality coffee, and a selection of grocery essentials (read: snacks). Method is an ideal escape from these oh-so-strange times, whether you opt to stick around for a few or just swing by for a pick-me-up to-go.
Washington Park West
This coffee shop is the perfect place for you if your speed is more of a cozy, neighborhood hangout vibe. This is a shop made for regulars, where you can settle into a patio spot or inside at a well-weathered table with your favorite mismatched mug. Orders are currently only being taken at the walk-up window, so you can take your caffeine kick to-go or settle in for a little while. Plus, you’ve got easy access to Wash Park if you need a quick break in the sunshine. This is also one of the spots to get your pumpkin spice fix to really get into the seasonal spirit—highly recommended (hot or iced).
If the words “in-house” and “scratch made” get you excited, then this is your spot. No detail goes overlooked here, starting with the coffee, of course. They roast in house using green beans sourced from around the world, which means they have a pretty regular rotation of new selections for you to try. Their food comes with that same attention to details, and the entire kitchen is gluten free. Indoor seating is back open, with the option for curbside pickup still available, too. Current seasonal flavors include brown sugar cinnamon, black forest mocha, and spiced apple chaider—make life exciting and try all three.