I love visiting cafes when I am in new cities. Or cities that I visit, love, but don’t live in. This past summer I wrote a little bit about some great coffee shops I checked out in Duluth, MN, and San Francisco, CA. Hopefully this January I can visit Seattle, WA and experience that famed Seattle coffee culture. Not only is coffee delicious (there is a distinctive cappuccino happy dance that happens in my head when I see that tiny mug with the fern patterned foam coming at me. Yeah, I look normal on the outside, but…), but I feel like setting up camp in a cafe lets you get to know the neighborhood and city at a leisurely pace. Plus, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for some kind of guided tour. Not to sound terrible but…when you flock with other tourists, you tend to get only a very skewed glimpse of a place.
Back to coffee: I’m sitting in Little Owl Coffee on Blake St in downtown Denver. Even though I’ve spent the past three weeks working in Denver I haven’t had a chance to explore it properly yet. I left my car near the Park N Ride (parking near it instead of in it= freeeeeee), took the train, then the free mall ride bus for about two blocks and then BAM! Coffee time. I did some research last night looking at some of the best- or highest rated- cafes in Denver. There were a lot to choose from, and all looked pretty tempting, but Little Owl had the highest praise, so I thought I’d start here. It’s exterior is pretty unassuming: a sleek black exterior with glass door printed with the the name + an owl. Of course! Inside it’s very modern looking with the back wall made entirely of a white marble. The counter tops at the bar are also marble, but the few tables in here are made of some kind of beautiful wood. The stools are also wooden, with slim wire legs or just glass. Behind the coffee bar is a shelf full of interesting-looking glass cups, decanters, and goblets. Those little glass globes with living succulents in them are peppered around the cafe. There is a door that leads to what looks like an art gallery. I’m still savoring my cappuccino (served up in less than 5 minutes, so yay for quick service) so I haven’t gone over there yet. There are a few people sitting outside and in. Two business-y looking men are having an animated discussion at the long wooden table in the middle of the cafe, another business guy is sitting next to me on his laptop, and a very chic looking woman is keeping to herself across the cafe. I am very much in love with her boots.
The cappuccino is delicious. I must learn some coffee jargon so that I can accurately describe what I am tasting. All I can say right now is that I am happily engaged with this tiny mug and it’s foamy contents.
Fast forward a couple of hours. I fell in love with Tattered Cover book store. I visited City Stacks also, and was very impressed with the selection. It seems like a bookstore just for young women, but maybe I just happen to like every book they had on display. Now I am grabbing a bite to eat before I catch the train home. I am at another cafe that was very highly rated: Amante Coffee. It’s on 17th St, right across from Union Station if you care to visit. I got a cup of black coffee and added a little cream, cocoa, and cinnamon. I got pain au chocolat to compliment. The coffee is delicious (and not just because of the stuff I added). I had a Lorelai Gilmore moment when I took my first sip- this must be what Luke’s coffee tastes like. Too bad there is no Luke behind the counter. The vibe here is a little more relaxed and a little more touristy. The inside looks chic, and alternative music is playing at a soothing volume, but there is also a flatscreen with whatever football game is on mixing with the coffee shop vibes. This cafe shares the bottom floor with what looks like a salon and hotel, so there is a small amount of confused foot traffic. Next to me two women who look about my age are discussing efficient ways to manage small business. A couple of tourists look lost at a table across from me. The barista is friendly, attentive, and capable. There is a fair variety of beer and wine available also. I have my eye on the sweet Amante coffee stickers near the register.