The Denver Grand Coffee Bazaar features the best in coffee and beer and the growing specialty scene in Colorado.
The phrase ˜Rocky Mountain High’ takes on a whole new meaning when you dive into the thriving Colorado coffee scene. Walk through the door of more than 100 excellent specialty cafes along the Front Range and into the Rockies, and it’s immediately clear ”coffee in Colorado is really something special. The shift towards specialty in the last five to ten years arguably found its initial foothold in Denver, where seasoned roasters were slinging java for the city’s unique mountains-meet-metropolis residents long before the words ˜third wave’ hit the circuits. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a Denver neighborhood without a local specialty coffee joint. Boulder and Fort Collins haven’t been far behind in the march towards a well-rounded specialty scene, and Colorado Springs has exploded, especially in the last year, with what just might be the most collaborative coffee scene in state.
The third annual Denver Grand Coffee Bazaar, hosted by the event planning group Two Parts, showcased this status with over a dozen local roasters and more than 20 local collaborations spanning breakfast to beer. From a curated cupping with Huckleberry Roasters to a homemade craft coffee spirits seminar with Boulder Organic Coffee, the show floor style event had a taste of Colorado coffee for everyone. After checking in and grabbing my coffee mug from an eclectic collection, I followed my nose to the coffee.
If Colorado had a tagline, it would be, œLocal! Evidenced at every table of the bazaar, samples of Boulder’s Bhakti Chai flavored Noosa Yoghurt made in Bellvue, alongside a fantastic lineup of close-to-home coffee beers showed just how creative Colorado can be with ˜home grown’ craft food and drink. Josh Taves, Director of Quality Control and Business Development for Novo Coffee, shared that, “Denver is experiencing a huge amount of population growth right now, and with that come new ideas, artisans, and businesses that are driving the coffee industry like never before. That, coupled with the thriving beer and food cultures, causes consumers in the Denver market to seek out new and exciting ways to experience products they previously saw as commonplace.
I enjoyed one such experience with the ˜Breakfast Blonde’ beer by Dry Dock Brewing (Aurora, CO). Chatting with brewer Aly Hartwig while I sipped, I savored the coconut Belgian blonde made with biscuit malt and flaked oats, then cold steeped on Ethiopian Yirgacheffe whole beans from Loyal Coffee (Colorado Springs). Having lived in Colorado Springs, Aly shared her excitement about the growth of the coffee industry over the past few years. œSome incredible coffee shops have come out of the area from the increasing support of locally crafted products and community oriented businesses.
The ties between craft beer and coffee run deep in Colorado, and the industry overlap is a win-win. Seth Fuller, co-owner of Loyal Coffee and recently voted best barista in Colorado Springs, appreciates the sense of community, and the desire to support and help everyone grow the entire market. œCraft beer is a staple of Colorado culture, and having that mindset of care, intention and quality makes the transition from good beer to good coffee easier for everyone involved. Its an exciting time to be in coffee in Colorado!
While the current scene is definitely something to be celebrated, I tip my hat to the coffee slingers who’ve laid the groundwork for the craft coffee community, in the Mile High City and beyond. Jason Cain of Pablo’s Coffee shares his perspective: œWhen we first started roasting out of our little shop in the early 2000’s, there wasn’t much thought given to ˜coffee scenes’…we were just trying to get a better quality product than was available at the time, keep the lights on, and provide worthwhile jobs for our team. The influx of great newer roasters provides an opportunity for all of us to add value to this industry at large. Tamas Christman, Owner of Dragonfly Coffee Roasters and runner up in America’s Best Espresso Competition, echoes Jason’s sentiment: “It is a very exciting time for the specialty coffee industry throughout Colorado. We are seeing a great deal of innovation, and a great coffee culture and community starting to flourish. Thanks to the Denver Grand Coffee Bazaar for a morning of great coffee and wonderful people, and cheers to Colorado’s amazing craft coffee scene!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brimming with ambition, sarcasm, and caffeinated zeal, Sadie Renee is fascinated by all things beverage and the extraordinary humans that make them. A KCMO native loving life in Fort Collins, Colo., she spends most of her time drinking extravagant amounts of coffee and planning the next Caffeine Crawl for The LAB. When she’s not on a plane to a beverage destination, you can find her conducting research at a local brewery or pouring the occasional latte behind the bar at Everday Joe’s Coffehouse. After she lets her dog take her for a long, vivacious walk around the neighborhood, she likes to soak up some mountain magic and wind down with a good cocktail.