espresso recap

Ok, so espresso at a new place six days in a row. This was fun. None of them were horrible experiences, although some were better than others.

Of the six, I’ll be adding two to my usual rotation…Crema and Sugar Bakeshop and Coffee House.  My only regret is that Crema is a bit out of my way, but it’s totally worth it. There are three others that I’ll likely return to here and there…Novo, Yellow Feather and Aviano.  And one that I would return to if I was ever in that neighborhood (Espressole), although I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

Who had the best espresso? Crema, hands down. With Novo being the runner-up. Honorable mention to Sugar. Best atmosphere? Sugar, with Crema a close second.

But Pablo’s remains my favorite coffee shop in town.


espresso in the Santa Fe Arts District

Yesterday took me to Yellow Feather Coffee on Santa Fe for Espresso. It was the first day I had not told the barista of my quest for espresso at a new spot every day that week. He seemed a bit preoccupied. Found out when I ordered a 2nd espresso that he was setting up for a coffee cupping in the back room, which he did invite me to join, and that’s clearly where his focus was.

He did explain the two espresso offerings to me without prompting. I wanted to cry foul when he asked me if it was for there or to go. First I tried the Peru Atipiri, which he said was more of a seasonal roast. I was given a small glass of San Pellegrino along with it to cleanse my palette. The espresso was a nice blend but had barely any crema, and it was too hot to drink for a few minutes.

Next I tried the 2010, which is a blend from Guatemala, Brazil & Honduras. Again, it was too hot. It was a stronger roast and I found it to be a bit on the bitter side. This one did have more crema than the first shot.

Both were served in handmade espresso cups, which were a nice tough. I’ll come back here for a cupping someday, and perhaps another espresso.

espresso # 5 – Aviano

Day five took me to Aviano in Cherry Creek. Espresso was good, baristas were aloof. I found it humorous that at the most high brow coffee shop in town I was served on a chipped saucer. I’ll probably go back to try some of their different offerings, and I love the idea of my cup of coffee being prepared on the spot, but I didn’t fall in love with the place today.

Clyfford Still and Novo Coffee

Today’s espresso stop was at Novo Coffee at the Museum Residences. I had a bit of time between my preview at the Clyfford Still Museum, which opens tomorrow, and dinner at Coohills, so it was super-convenient.

First, let me say that you should check out the Clyfford Still Museum. Never has such a collection of one artist been housed under one roof. And I’ve never seen a museum with this much natural light. All of the galleries are upstairs and are well laid-out chronologically. The spaces are sized appropriately for the works they house, with the bigger paintings in bigger spaces, with plenty of light and room to move around. What was most striking to me was how many of the pieces are not on display right now. There will be a lot of changing out of artwork as time goes on, which I quite like. It’s an enormous collection. So, go check it out.

Back to the espresso. Novo. Sandwiched between Mad Greens and a wine bar at the Museum Residences. I didn’t much care for the space. The espresso was good, better than yesterday’s, even though it was Novo as well. I think there’s something to be said about the correlation between a good shot and pulling that shot being your focus vs. having your main focus be elsewhere.

Had a lovely conversation with the barista about coffee about town and different brewing methods. I’m curious about their cuppings and maybe going back to check out some of those brewing methods…pour over and chemex in particular.

espresso and Sugar Bake Shop

This afternoon’s stop at Sugar Bake Shop and Coffee House did not disappoint. Located on South Broadway, just south of 3rd Ave, I easily found street parking. And this is one of those lovely spots where a quarter gets you an hour or better.

In keeping with the mission of the week, I ordered a double espresso. They serve Novo coffee and it was delicious, with a lovely thick crema and wonderful aroma. I’ll not pretend that I know enough about espresso to understand all the nuances and elements and such. I just know when I like it and when I don’t. And this pursuit is as much about finding different independent businesses to support and places to write as it is about the coffee.

With an impressive array of pastries, including homemade pop-tarts, the sprinkles on the sugar cookie enticed me the most. The pop-tarts were very inviting, but since I’m still on the wagon concerning pop-tarts, albeit the Kellogg’s brand, I quit staring and walked away. The cookie was a perfect accompaniment to the espresso, not too sweet, and not dry at all.

I love the atmosphere of this place…warm and inviting…tunes were good, nice array of tables and chairs, both high and low. I also loved the maize-colored mantle topped with some mint julep cups, milk glass pieces, tea infusers and actual maize. The black and white episodes of Julia Child running above it were a nice touch.

Sugar Bake Shop and Coffee House will be added to my usual rotation immediately.

espresso at Espressole

Today’s espresso stop was Espressole, which is at Belleview and I-25, a few doors north of the Landmark Theater.  Someone had suggested it to me, and it happened to be in my direct path today, although I’m usually not in this area much. 

The furnishings and finishes are nice, but it feels very non-urban. Things are very match-y match-y and beige.  It matches its location in the tech center very well, but is almost the opposite feel of yesterday’s stop at crema.  It’s a lovely establishment, but my preference leans more towards places that feel a bit gritty and like they have more personality. This one could easily be a chain.

The barista, nice enough.  Quick chat about favorite espresso stops and who in town carries what coffees. I got a double shot of espresso. It was good, but seemed rather average compared to yesterday’s.  Says a lot about crema when the barista here tells me that’s where he goes on his day off. 

I’d come back here if I was in the area, but wouldn’t list it among my favorite coffee spots in Denver. And it will never make my heart happy the way Pablos’s always does. Plus the soft jazz makes me want to stab a pencil in my eye. 

espresso at crema

Today begins a week of coffee about town, a different coffee house each day. First stop: crema at 29th and Larimer.

Great, funky decor with local letterpress prints on the walls for sale. I really liked the wall of reclaimed wood in the seating area. It was a bit chilly, but was warmer at the coffee bar. The best part? A really passionate barista named Josh. I got to pick his brain about his favorite coffee spots in town, and will be trying some of them soon. At his recommendation, I went with an espresso, which will be the bar by which all other establishments will be judged this week. And he set the bar pretty high.

First, I tried the Dogwood, which is described as a sweet coffee, with hits of cherry and tangy lemon. It did not disappoint. A bit later I returned and asked for another, and tried the Herkimer, which is a darker roast, and somewhat chocolate-y. I found it to be a tad on the bitter side and decided that of the two espressos, the Dogwood is my pick. Both had a wonderful thick foam on top, and you really can’t make a bad choice there.

I had debated about what the beverage for comparison would be. Americano? Latte? Espresso seems like the right choice.

Conclusion: You should go there.