Before the pandemic, Denver was emerging as the hot new spot on that side of the Mississippi River. It’s coffee scene started to inspire national attention in late 2018, and into 2019, Denver’s craft coffee shops and cafes were considered some of the healthiest and most eclectic in the American West. It still remains to be seen how much local businesses, especially cafes and coffee shops, will be impacted as the pandemic continues to wear on the economy. However, through online exchange, we can still explore and support artisans who live in places we can’t get to right now. So cancel your Amazon and Whole Foods subscription, and shop around at these two Denver-based roasters for your next bag of ethically sourced beans. Now more than ever, it’s time to wake up.
Novo Coffee builds relationships with the people behind each bean. Through purchasing beans from the same farmers year after year, the Novo Coffee places the coffee drinker in a close approximate relationship with the soil that grew the beans, and the hands that harvested them. Each cup of coffee is the final link in a tightly woven chain.
The beans are sourced from four general regions on the planet. The Hartmann family in Panama has been supplying beans to Novo Coffee for over 15 years. Beans from Indonesia are “wet hulled,” a process only practiced on the islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi. Wet hulled coffee beans minimize acidity and emphasize body. Ethiopian beans dominate the list from Africa, but beans from Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi are also available. Finally, Novo Coffee has been buying beans from the OCCICAFE cooperative of Colombia for 12 years. Their San Sebastian beans from that cooperative are some of their most popular, but it will cost you. A two pound bag is thirty six dollars.
In fact, all of their coffee is pricier than what you will find at the supermarket, or through discount suppliers, but the quality is worth it. Would you rather drink three cups of cheap coffee, or one cup of really good coffee? With Novo Coffee, you will know that the harvesters are paid earning a decent living for their work and that they are treating their land and their plants with respect. That positive energy will filter into your body as you drink your coffee.
When we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic, they offer a public tasting and tour almost every Friday at the Roastery location on Larimer Street. Space is limited to six people, and includes a complimentary bag of freshly roasted beans. Each session lasts about an hour while an expert shares insider knowledge of the origins, flavor profile, and optimal brewing tips of the week’s beans of choice. Maybe eventually we can mingle with strangers again.
Kaladi Coffee Roasters is named after the goat herder from Arabia Felix who discovered the magical quality of Coffea plant berries. According to the legend, Kaladi was surprised to find his goats acting more lively after eating some red berries on a shrub. After sampling some for himself, he was pleased at his more joyous and elated experience in life.
One day, a passing monk met Kaladi and inquired about his state of pleasure. Kaladi introduced him to the red berries, and the monk discovered that they helped him stay more fully awake during his prayers. Deciding that the berries were a gift from heaven, he began to brew them in water and shared them with others in his monastery. Word spread throughout Arabia Felix, and the rest is history.
Kaladi Coffee Roasters has taken every effort to uphold the authenticity and magic of this ancient story. They consider the community the “heart and soul” of their business, from the farmers who grow the beans, to the people in Denver who consume the final beverage. The majority of their growers are Fair Trade, and several of the farms are women-owned.
They have been serving the Denver community since the year 2000. The owners, Mark Overly and Andrew Melnick, wanted to participate in the American coffee revolution movement and offer a high-quality beverage to compete with the emerging chains. Mark had been the former President and Coffee Buyer for Kaladi Brothers Coffee in Anchorage, Alaska, and transferred his years of experience and expertise to this Denver-based coffee roaster.
If consistency is your thing, they offer a subscription service with free shipping in the United States. You select the frequency, the variety, the quantity, and the bean grind, and they will toss in in the mail either once or twice each month. The quantity ranges from $15.50 for one pound each month, to $75 for five pounds each month.
Are you grumpy about these prices? As an avid coffee connoisseur, my body definitely knows the difference between cheap coffee and good coffee. I can feel the additives and chemicals in the cheap coffee, and when I was younger and had not learned the difference, I simply thought I didn’t like coffee. Now though, a simple pleasure is definitely a cup of thick, oily, freshly ground dark roast, heavy on the cream, with no sugar. They days are long, and we have a lot to do. Wake up.