I am an unrepentant coffee drinker. I love a nice cup of dark roast, a well made latte, or the pleasantly smooth taste of a shot of espresso with an amazing head of crema on top. I used to work at Starbucks (don’t judge) I love that place but that’s a story for another day. But my heart is with the local shops that take the approach that coffee is an art form. So, I decided to figure out where the best coffee was in Denver. Fortunately, we have a lot of choices. No more bitter brew, with no depth or flavor. Many of these shops by locally roasted beans and sell local pastries as well.
In my many wonderings around town I’ve found some phenomenal locally owned shops making epic cups of coffee, almond milk lattes, and americanos. Some of the shops on this list you may recognize others may be new to you. All I ask is that you take the time to check each one of them out. I will give directions to all of the shops using Union Station as the starting off point. Also, I will write another best coffee shops edition later on this summer because there are a ton of amazing shops that aren’t getting enough love!
Lists are tricky to do because everyone has their biases. I included places that I normally go to and have visited more than 5 times. I thought about cost, quality, and service. We have an amazing coffee culture in Colorado now but there are certain locations that just get all of the press. Hopefully I’ve shared a few places that you haven’t tried out yet or heard of before.
I was wondering around downtown Denver when I noticed a new patio attached to a newly renovated hotel downtown. I decided to pop in and I am so glad that I did. I actually love Illy Coffee and always pick it up when I find it at-TJ Maxx (weird-I know) The latte that I had did not disappoint. The prices were a little on the high side for the food items ($9 for tiramisu when the average cost is around $6 in Denver). But, that coffee is phenomenal.
Check out Illy Cafe at Renaissance Downtown Denver (which is a pretty amazing building in its own right). It’s located at 918 17th Street. They also have wi-fi service as well.
How to Get There:
Exit Union Station and walk about 6 blocks to Champa street. It’s on the right side of the street.
Black Eye Coffee-Capital Hill
I am obsessed with the new Black Eye Coffee location in Capital Hill. It is closer to where I live but I would make the trip there regardless. From the lovely art deco decor, to the garage wall that opens on hot days, and the cool murals on the garage door walls-this place is not only cool the coffee and food is great.
Their food is simple/elevated and outstanding. Try the avocado toast a simple treat that has an elevated taste. And-they have a bar. Not just any bar, but a bar with artisanal drinks. They also serve charred octopus at night. Just saying. Black Eye Coffee is my coffee bae.
I do wish the booths were a little smaller but that’s a small thing.
Black Eye Coffee Capital Hill is located at 800 Sherman St.
How to Get There:
You could walk…but, to be nice I’m giving transit directions. From Downtown Denver (Union Station). Take the Free Mall Shuttle going East (away from the Mountains) to the last stop. The last stop is Civic Center Transit Center. Take the 83L/3L bus from Civic Center Transit Center located at 16th and Broadway to 8th and Broadway. Then walk 3 blocks East on 8th avenue to Sherman Street. (You can also take the 0 bus from 16th Street and Broadway-located one block west (towards the mountains) from Civic Center Transit Station. Just look for the bus stops on Broadway street). Black Eye Coffee is located on the corner of the building and you will most likely see a bunch of guys going into the barber shop that is next door to it.
This shop is my sentimental favorite. It is not only a coffee shop, it is also a non-profit with an extensive job training program from homeless youth. The building is a lovely combination of wood, and slightly old-fashioned touches. There are basic pastries such as: cookies and croissants and a small patio when you feel like enjoying your coffee outside.
Purple Door is located at 2962 Welton St.
How to Get There
Take the Free Mall Shuttle from Union Station and get off the shuttle at California Street (there is a Starbucks on the corner). Take the light rail from 16th Street and California going north. Pay the $5.20 for a round trip day pass on the light rail. You can use your credit/debit card. Have cash just in case. You will get off at 27th and Welton and walk about 2 blocks in the same direction (north). The coffee shop will be on your right and it has..ahem..a purple door.
Little Owl Coffee
I absolutely adore this little shop. It’s located in the Sugar Cube building located at 16th and Blake street. It is a spare modern space with very limited seating. The baristas take their coffee seriously and I have never had a bad drink here. They also have pastries that I think are sourced from Beet Box Bakery and Cafe-a primarily vegan baker (I need to double check this!)
Little Owl Coffee is located at 1555 Blake St. #150
How to Get There
Walk 3 blocks East (away from the Mountains) from Union Station until you reach Blake street. Turn right and it’s in the middle of the block.
Is technically a men’s clothing store. But, it’s actually owned by the same guy who owns Little Owl Coffee. I included Steadbrook because this is where they roast the coffee beans used at both locations and other places throughout the city.
Steadbrook is located at 46 S. Broadway across the street from Goodwill.
How to Get There
Take the Free Mall Shuttle going East (away from the Mountains) to the last stop. The last stop is Civic Center Transit Center. Take the 83L/3L bus from Civic Center Transit Center located at 16th and Broadway to 8th and Broadway. Then walk 3 blocks East on 8th avenue to Sherman Street. (You can also take the 0 bus from 16th Street and Broadway-located one block west (towards the mountains) from Civic Center Transit Station. Just look for the bus stops on Broadway street.
The White Whale Room
I.love.this.place. Maybe it’s the furniture that looks like a whale’s vertebrae. Or, the open layout, or the patio. Or, the whimsical art on the wall and the fake greenery (I think it’s fake) one wall. Or, maybe it’s the passion of the owners to give its patrons a somewhat elevated coffee/drinks experience a la Sydney, Australia. They even carry Fernet for the serious drinker who has been to Argentina.
The White Whale Room is just pretty freaking cool. The concept is also a nod to Moby Dick and the great white whale. They also have a limited food menu with some pretty standout options.
The White Whale Room is located at 415 S. Cherokee Street #125
How to Get There
From Union Station take any light rail train EXCEPT the W line. Do NOT take the W line. Take the E or C line to Alameda Station. You will get off and walk towards the patio that is on the corner of the building next to the light rail. Boom, there you are!
Steam Espresso Bar
I love Steam. It is a bright, airy, warm space with ridiculously nice people and a steady stream of clients coming in throughout the day. I’ve never had a bad drink there and the baristas know what they’re are doing. When I’m on South Pearl Street I prefer walking a couple of blocks to Steam because I feel it’s the more grown up of the two coffee shops on that street.
Steam Espresso Bar is located at 1801 S. Pearl St.
How to Get There
From Downtown Denver (Union Station). Take the Free Mall Shuttle going East (away from the Mountains) to the last stop. The last stop is Civic Center Transit Center. You take the 0 bus from 16th Street and Broadway-located one block west (towards the mountains) from Civic Center Transit Station. Just look for the bus stops on Broadway street. Get off the bus at E. Colorado Ave. and walk 11 small blocks (East-away from the Mountains) to Steam. It’s about a 5 minute walk and is a grey building.
Takes making good coffee SERIOUSLY. They even have a cold brew dispenser that reminds me of getting poured a fabulous cup of beer. Locate a long the “Green Mile” you will find Corvus Coffee on S. Broadway. If you’re in the mood to check out antiques, eat empanadas, or check out the Arc Thrift Store you definitely need to check this place out.
The coffee quality is superb and even though I wish coffee shops would add a couple of warm accents to industrial chic-the baristas more than make up for the lack of warmth in the interior.
Corvus Coffee is located at 1740 S. Broadway Street.
How To Get There
From Downtown Denver (Union Station). Take the Free Mall Shuttle going East (away from the Mountains) to the last stop. The last stop is Civic Center Transit Center. You take the 0 bus from 16th Street and Broadway-located one block west (towards the mountains) from Civic Center Transit Station. Just look for the bus stops on Broadway street. Get off the bus at E. Colorado Ave. You will see it across the street.
Is located inside Union Station-no travel required. The prices are a teensy bit high but the quality of each drink and gorgeously crafted pastry more than makes up for the price. The baristas are super nice, very knowledgable and endlessly patient given the volume of business that they do at this location. They also make their almond milk fresh on the premises and I consider their almond milk lattes the best in Denver.
In case you’re feeling a little peckish-check out the menu. Phenomenal food. One of my favorite items to order is the Banh Mi off the Market Menu.
In my view is a hidden gem. I honestly don’t know why more people haven’t heard of this place. It may be because they are pretty low-key and located in a part of Denver that is cool-but probably not on your normal rotation. I get to this shop a couple times a year and I just love this place.
They don’t have social media, they have a one page website-basically, they keep it simple. The coffee is smooth, delicious, and worth the trip (especially if the owner is making it).
2914 is located at 2914 W 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211
How To Get There
From Union Station-walk 3 blocks to 15th Street and Wynkoop. Look for the bus stop. Take the #28 Bus Going West (towards the mountains) with the final destination of Applewood. Get off the bus at W. 26th Ave and Federal. Walk 3 block to 29th street, turn right and you will find 2914 in the middle of the block.
I will share a second edition of the 10 Best Coffee Shops in Denver soon!