Building on my previous post about becoming one of the “Day People,” and having now worked in a variety of places all over the city, it’s time to build on this concept a bit. I find it uncouth to be some freeloading crotchstain and just show up at a business to use their free wi-fi, so it’s vital that I buy something.
I tried working at the libraries near my house – where it’s fine to be a freeloading crotchstain since you’ve (presumably) already paid your taxes, and thus, have no further commerce pre-requisites to fulfill – but I ran into two problems with this.
- There are kids EVERYWHERE during the summer, which, even with your headphones in, is distracting because kids move with such unpredictable and different cadence from adults. You can’t not watch kids even if it’s just to see what they do next. They’re mystifying.
- Thanks either to poor management of resources by our government, the increasing distaste of voters to fund basically anything that even appears extraneous, or some unholy combination of the two; libraries are open at weird, short, and not terribly convenient hours.
[shakes fist at government cronies] [shakes other fist at misguided voter ideology] [remains unsure which fist he should actually engage]
Thus, coffee shops and cafes! What follows is a list of places I’ve gotten work done, and something from there I happen to really like. Important note before we start: I don’t drink coffee – which I realize could get me branded a heretic depending on your level of coffee fetishism – so you won’t find any of it listed here, which will likely influence your enjoyment of this list.
Look, coffee tastes fine and I accept that my Facebook feed is flush with people who believe they can’t live without it, but I neither need the caffeine, nor like the taste THAT much. I also accept that my position is objectively wrong, much like my inability to care about Game of Thrones. So let’s just move on.
Here’s some good stuff from some cool places around town.
Hooked on Colfax
3213 E Colfax Ave (East Colfax)
Deft choice: Iced hibiscus tea
What does hibiscus taste like? I didn’t know, and still don’t really know how to describe it even after drinking this three times a week for the last month. All I’ll say is this: Your tea comes in a pleasing magenta hue and has a vague cinnamon note. As your brain gropes for the proper way to characterize the flavor, your mouth begs for more. Just keep drinking.
Hooked on Colfax is awesome because the building is old as hell, slings a killer vibe, has lots of free parking around it, and contains a basement that smells like your grandparents’ house (this is a good thing).
Sugar Bakeshop & Coffeehouse
277 Broadway St (Baker)
Deft choice: Popsters
While getting a haircut at the salon next door to Sugar, I asked my stylist how it was. She responded thusly, “It’s really good, but beware because their bakery is f’ing ridiculous. They have their own take on Pop Tarts, and they’re so good. I always tell myself I’m just going in for something to drink, but I pretty much always walk out with something sweet. I’m going to get so fat working next to this place.”
Sure enough, I sat down to work after my haircut and eyebanged the Popsters for two hours before caving and buying two of them for me and the wife. They’re absurdly good. The pastry is flaky, the filling rich and delicious, and the guilt of plying yourself with simple carbohydrates and refined sugar is non-existent because you’re JUST SO HAPPY you’re eating them. That’s right – no guilt because these things are so tasty they’re worth the extra miles on your next run and skipping your evening craft beer. Quality!
Fork & Spoon
341 E Colfax Ave (Capitol Hill)
Deft choice: Sweet potato sandwich
Marble rye, roasted sweet potato slices, spinach, and creamy goat cheese. While driving around one day searching for a proper lunch spot, I happened upon this place, got this sandwich, and spent my afternoon happy. Then I spent my afternoon happier when I ordered an IPA to accompany it. Small points off the sandwich for its unnecessary inclusion of raw red onion.
Also, sitting in this café and gazing out the window reminds you of how weird and awful the Capitol Hill neighborhood can be. People who are high as balls shamble about to and fro while self-important political people flit around pretending to be more vital to the democratic process than they likely are. Also, traffic.
Denver Bicycle Café
1308 E 17th Ave (Uptown)
Deft choice: Coconut Green Tea
I normally abhor coconut mostly for its texture. The flavor is fine, if a bit too reminiscent of suntan lotion, but the texture of shaved coconut makes me feel like someone dumped a bunch of wood shavings from the bottom of a guinea pig cage into whatever I’m eating.
But I’ve now drank enough green tea to realize most flavor injections are welcome. Some green tea tastes like the barista steeped the contents of a lawnmower bag in hot rainwater and then served it to you with a disarming smile. The coconut green tea at Denver Bicycle Café pleases the palate with crisp refreshment offset slightly by the earthy, toasty coconut note. I can (and sometimes do) drink these for hours on end.
I should also note how amazing the Denver Bicycle Café is in the summer morning. The doors open wide to a quaint patio while a fresh breeze gently wafts over your face making work feel surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable.
Cake Crumbs Bakery
2216 Kearney St (Park Hill)
Deft choice: Any cupcake
This is my hood, so you gotta give some love to your hometown place! Started by a CSU alum, you’ll frequently see the Denver Cupcake Truck (operated out of Cake Crumbs) at CSU rallies handing out free green & gold cupcakes to the faithful. Seriously, all of these cupcakes are insanely good, and if forced to make a firm recommendation, I suppose I’d have to choose their Red Velvets. Thumbs up for cream cheese icing!
Sidenote: You’ve probably been eating cupcakes wrong your whole life. Here’s a lesson in how to do it right.
Rooster & Moon
955 Bannock St. #100 (Golden Triangle)
Deft choice: The Wrigley
I’ve saved my favorite for last. Full disclosure: My good buddy Bird owns this place, and also served as one of the very first guests on the Jon of All Trades Podcast. That said, I thoroughly adore this place. The music is loud, Bird will introduce you to the person next to you and force you to strike up a conversation with them, and the cops in this neighborhood are a bit draconian about the parking. So, be warned if any of that will affect your productivity. I tend to get more done here than anywhere else, for whatever that’s worth.
I make it a point to get a Wrigley at least once a week. It’s a mixed green salad with grilled chicken, goat cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and candied walnuts served with a strawberry avocado vinaigrette. The dressing is the piece de resistance here as it’s at once silky, tangy, tart and creamy. The elements of this salad work together like James Brown’s band “The J.B.’s” on their best nights. All the flavors are here and they’re gorgeous together.
I’m out and about basically everyday now, so if you’re reading this and think, “Hey, I could go for a hibiscus tea!” hit me up, and let’s chat. See you around!