coffee, coffee shops, denver, photography

Coffee. Yes, please!


Yes, please! I’m swaying back and forth and my mouth’s watering just thinking about it.

No, no. Not just any dark sludge will do.

Instant? No thanks.

Black coffee, with no sweetening or color? I can’t. Sorry.

Toward the end of the summer, I committed to visiting independently owned, local, different coffee shops.

I’d like to share where I’ve been so far, what struck me about each place, and what I like about it.

Disclaimer: I’m not offering any coffee shop reviews, here. What I’m presenting is my personal perspective, colored by my biases and preferences. Plus, what I’m putting out there is based solely on my first impression.

These are listed in no particular order. I’m not telling my favorites, just yet. Still more coffee shop exploring to do. I have eleven to share, at this point:

1.  Amethyst Coffee —

Lily Chang © 2018

Lily Chang © 2018

This was the first in my coffee shop hunt. It seemed like a refuge in a busy business section of Denver.

Amethyst Coffee:

  • boasted plenty of natural sunlight.
  • displayed all kinds of plants and flowers.
  • included artwork.


2.  Spur Coffee —

Lily Chang © 2018

Spur Coffee’s homepage had at least one coffee art photo posted, and I was hoping to see some in person. I wasn’t disappointed.

Lily Chang © 2018

Lily Chang © 2018

Spur Coffee:

  • Impressive coffee art.
  • The gal who made my drink, Kira, let me take a video of her making coffee art. She didn’t even look at me like I was crazy for asking.
  • Varying seating arrangements, including tables by the windows.
  • The mural outside — the butterfly — was definitely a surprise. It made my day. Kelsey did such a marvelous job.
  • They source their dairy from a local farm: Royal Crest Dairy.
Lily Chang © 2018


3.  Dirt Coffee —

When I found out Dirt Coffee Bar employs and empowers individuals with autism, I had to go. My wildly beating heart wouldn’t rest until I bought some coffee, greeted the baristas, and spent some time there.

Lily Chang © 2018

Dirt Coffee & Bar:

  • Love the unique sign that stands out.
  • The inside looks inviting and includes inspiring and encouraging words.

Lily Chang © 2018

Here is a back view of Dirt Coffee and the coffee truck that the non-profit company started with:

Lily Chang © 2018


4.  Corvus Coffee Roasters —

Lily Chang © 2018

Lily Chang © 2018

Corvus Coffee Roasters:

  • The outside didn’t do the inside justice. Once I was in, the place looked interesting.
  • Near the beans for sale are photographs of the roasters. That’s really cool.
  • I wasn’t sure what all the stuff behind the bar was, but it looked pretty cool.
  • I made the mistake of trying something new, some chicory coffee drink, that I didn’t appreciate one little bit. I need to give the place another chance and drink something different.


5.  Little Owl Coffee 

Lily Chang © 2018

Little Owl Coffee:

  • The coffee shop, seated in a busier part of downtown Denver, didn’t appear big or significant. However, I loved the little owl.

Lily Chang © 2018

  • The space inside took me by surprise. It’s well utilized and inviting. Inviting. That’s a pretty big deal to me.
  • A huge bonus was the guy did coffee art with my mocha.
  • The place is well-lit and has plenty of large windows for outside viewing. There’s a running theme here, too.


6.  Enchanted Grounds —

Lily Chang © 2018

I didn’t take much in the way of photographs. I had gone to hang out with a friend, and we didn’t have as much time (left) when we got there.

Lily Chang © 2018

Enchanted Grounds:

  • Board games and role-playing games are for sale there.
  • This place isn’t just for those who are visiting friends, studying or working.
  • People can set up their role-playing game or board game of choice and play together. I love that plenty of space (and time) is (are) made for that.


7.  Stella’s Gourmet Coffee and Such —

I had walked by this place so many times without noticing it. Not sure why. It’s not for the lack of intrigue.

Lily Chang © 2018

But, the inside, oh my goodness, I loved the way it looks.

Lily Chang © 2018

Lily Chang © 2018

Stella’s Coffee and Such:

  • It’s busy but not detracting. Stella’s is organized and fascinating.
  • The barista did some coffee art.
  • This place had so many rooms. I think it was once a large house or mansion.


8.  Amante Coffee —

Lily Chang © 2018

Finding this place was by sheer accident. I had gone with the intent of exploring and taking Charles (my Yashica Mat 124G film camera) for a spin around Downtown Denver. So much drew me in.

Lily Chang © 2018

Amante Coffee:

  • It’s housed in an old building. Seems perhaps a historic building.
  • Huge windows cover one wall of the place.
  • The coffee shop is bright and inviting. Yes, I know, I keep mentioning that characteristic. It’s just that I’ve got a thing for bright (with natural light) and inviting places.
  • All sorts of people frequented the place, acquaintances meeting or individuals on the way to work….
  • They had gluten-free goodies, beyond sweet pastries.


9.  Metropolis Coffee —

Lily Chang © 2018

I’ve noticed Denver Metropolis Coffee driving home many weekdays, and I was curious about the place.

Lily Chang © 2018

Metropolis Coffee:

  • There are big windows, natural sunlight, and plenty to see outside.
  • The barista did some coffee art.
  • He was even willing to make another drink, so I could video him creating a beautiful drink. That’s a win!
  • The place had multiple jade plants. Very nice. Since I can’t have them at my house, being poisonous to our cats, who like to bite everything (EVERYTHING: homework, plastic, you name it).
  • The upstairs view is pretty spectacular.
  • Plus, this coffee shop is in Baker neighborhood, one of the oldest areas in Denver.
  • Lots of foot traffic travel here.


10.  Novo Coffee —

Lily Chang © 2018

I sought this place out after taking the kiddos to school one morning. I was pleased by many things.

Lily Chang © 2018

Novo Coffee:

  • The location I visited is nestled in a neighborhood.
  • It’s got big, bright windows.
  • The baristas do coffee art!
  • I ran into another parent with kiddos (twins) the same age as my eldest.
  • The decor’s pretty cool.


11. City Stacks Books and Coffee —

This store caught my eye on my way home. What can beat books AND coffee?

Lily Chang © 2018

The store was in the heart of downtown Denver. That it’s family owned and run by family sealed the deal for me. I had to go.

Lily Chang © 2018

City Stacks Books & Coffee:

  • The shop is family owned and run by family.
  • Books AND coffee. You heard me say that, right?
  • The place is well lit, with big windows, and is inviting.
  • With the few minutes I had to look and see, the books and wares seemed intentionally chosen. Every one of them.
Lily Chang © 2018


1 thought on “Coffee. Yes, please!”

  1. When you look beyond the prominent coffee-shop chains — Starbuck’s, of course, tops that list) — there is a wonderland of variety in the locally owned and operated outlets that have sprung up despite the dominance of the big franchises. I find the creativity with which these coffee-shop entrepreneurs have approached what are often somewhat limited or limiting facilities is fascinating. In many cases, store owners have found remarkably creative and aesthetically marvelous ways to convert apparent architectural defects and structural limitations (very small spaces; unusual or, frankly, boring, exterior/interior shapes and arrangements) into masterpieces of welcome and warmth. I have loved tasting from the surprising variety of visions such limitations inspire in coffee shop designs conceived by these local operators. These speak volumes about their passion for what they do. But, from my point of view, it’s the baristas who are a shop’s most important asset. The prettiest coffee shop on earth won’t last if the person who serves your coffee isn’t engaging, friendly, inviting and loves what he or she does. (My favorite coffee shop for some years now isn’t likely to top anyone’s list of artistically conceived interior and exterior design. and they don’t do coffee art in the cups. In fact, the cups are standard-issue paper. But the place is teeming with customers because when I and all the many other regulars walk in that door, we don’t see baristas, we greet friends who are already mixing our customary drinks and are genuinely happy to see us and hear and share the news of the day.) My opinion? Ultimately, it’s the people, not the place, that keep us coming back to a coffee shop. After all, the place — its artistic and/or useful attributes (good Wi-Fi, lighting, pleasant and varied seating, fast service, variety of goodies in addition to coffees, teas and, my favorite, hot chocolate) is merely one expression of and an indication of the heart of the folks who own, run and serve at the shop. But it’s the service, and the relationships that go beyond mere service, as much as their favorite coffee specialty, that people keep coming back for. Key to success? My opinion: Good coffee and good people are absolutes. A nice place to sit is a plus.

    Liked by 1 person

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