Denver After Dawn: best coffee roasters
A java expert who got her start in MSU Denver’s School of Hospitality spills the beans on how to get the best flavor out of your morning brew.
Editor’s note: Throughout the spring, RED’s Denver After Dawn series will look at fun morning and daytime activities in and around the Mile High City.
Whether you take your coffee hot, iced, black, with sugar and cream or as a latte, cappuccino or macchiato, a great cup begins with beans.
Each coffee bean has a distinctive flavor profile depending on the country where it is grown, plant variety, soil chemistry, weather and growing altitude — and that’s before it gets to the roaster.
How to get the most out of home-brewed coffee
“Everything a roaster does to their beans, from how they wash them to the method used for roasting, affects the final flavor,” said Eleanor Garin, café manager at Colectivo Coffee Roasters in Chicago.
Garin, who graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2016 with an Individualized Studies bachelor’s degree in Food and Beverage Management, says her unique, hands-on experience in the School of Hospitality prepared her for a career in coffee. “As industry professionals, my instructors provided a whole new perspective for how we could apply what they taught to the real world.”
After applying those skills at the now-closed Beantrees Coffee Café in Fort Collins, Garin was hooked on the coffee-roasting industry. For those without professional experience, she has a few suggestions for making the bean-picking process less intimidating.
The most significant indicator of a high-quality bean, Garin says, is knowing where and when the beans were roasted; always check for a roasting or best-by date on the packaging. Next, look for air-sealed bags with a one-way valve — they keep beans fresher. And finally, try out different beans to find flavor profiles you enjoy.
“If you’re interested in a basic coffee, look for a blend or Guatemalan. Feeling adventurous? Try a fruity and acidic Ethiopian bean,” said Garin. “Ask someone at your local roastery for recommendations — we’re here to help.”
Speaking of local roasters, here are some Denver favorites.
Original roastery — 1740 S. Broadway
9528 W. 58th Ave.
5846 S. Wadsworth
4925 S. Newport St.
Founded in 2010, Corvus delivers top-quality single-origin coffee by working directly with coffee farmers to build a supply chain of better coffee. Since opening its brick-and-mortar location on South Broadway in 2012, Corvus has expanded to four cafés. The South Wadsworth location is home to The Fox & The Raven bakery and an additional on-site roastery.
Original store — 1730 E. Evans
Roastery café — 2823 S. Broadway
Named for Kaldi, the goat herder who (according to legend) discovered coffee, Kaladi Coffee Roasters opened its doors in 2000. The highest-quality beans are air-roasted to produce consistent, excellent-tasting coffee and sourced from farmers who demonstrate sustainable growing practices and respect workers’ rights. Kaladi is a dedicated community partner, both locally and where they source their coffee.
Roastery and café — 1619 Reed St.
7745 Wadsworth Blvd.
8850 Westminster Blvd.
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters’ flagship location opened in 2013, designed with roasting and sourcing at its center. Working with an international community of small-scale farmers, Sweet Bloom roasts and evaluates each unique lot to ensure quality, freshness and consistency. Sweet Bloom is committed to creating meaningful change while bringing joy and creativity to its work.
4301 Pecos St.
4040 Tennyson St.
1800 Wazee St.
Established in 2011, Huckleberry Roasters resides in the heart of Denver. Named 2022 Macro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine, Huckleberry is building a sustainable coffee business by being a reliable roasting partner to the farms and co-ops it works with, supporting local and global nongovernmental and community-based organizations and encouraging a healthy and kind workplace.
3498 S. Broadway
In 2002, friends and neighbors gathered under a mango tree in Kenya with the goal of helping kids. Mango Tree Coffee serves that mission by donating 100% of its proceeds to help fund a network of food and education relief programs alleviating the extreme pressures of childhood poverty. With beans sourced from respected farmers using responsible growing practices in developing countries, each cup of coffee has the power to support the dreams of others.
Twenty-five locations in Colorado and Wyoming, including the Auraria Campus.
In 1979, Tony and Leo Yuffa came to the U.S. with their family after fleeing Leningrad, U.S.S.R. (now St. Petersburg, Russia), in search of better opportunities. Founded in 1996, Dazbog imports beans from around the world to its Denver roasting facility, where they are slow-roasted in small batches using traditional methods to preserve their character. With a full line of estate coffees, Dazbog offers something for every taste.
Roastery Café — 1898 S. Flatiron Court No. 110
5340 Arapahoe Ave.
1015 Pearl St.
1521 Pearl St.
1232-A S. Hover Road No. 400, Longmont
Since opening its flagship store on Arapahoe Avenue in 2017, Ozo Coffee Co. has been living its mission to support and connect diverse communities through coffee. The Roastery Café, which opened in 2013, includes a Lab and Training Center, allowing visitors to enjoy ethically sourced and sustainably grown coffee directly from the source.
Eleanor’s Special Mention
144 N. College Ave., Fort Collins
Located in downtown Fort Collins, Garin’s favorite roaster is an ecological, social and economically responsible business producing artisanally roasted coffee. The coffee house shares space with Half Crown Creative Space and Makerfolk, offering a place for community, creativity and locally handmade items.