Category Archives: Coffee

Morning Mocha with a Cacoa Shot

Liquid cacao from Cholaca is the real deal.

Not long ago, my friend Kuvy Ax and I met for coffee at OZO, a do-it-right café that in a very Boulder way adheres to the “ideals of community, coffee and a calling” in the way they source, roast and store their beans and other products. Kuvy ordered a mocha Cholaca, and so did I. It provided a power hit of well prepared coffee with the flavor boost of pure cacao.

My own bottle of Cholaca  liquid cacao now resides in my refrigerator, and I pour a shot into my morning coffee to try to replicate the OZO experience.  Even before this product,  I often put a spoonful of chocolate powder into my morning coffee (along with sweetener and soy creamer, because I’m a wimpy coffee drinker). No matter whether I started with coffee and stirred in the powder or vice versa, there was always some sludge left in the bottom of the mug because the  powder completely dissolved. Tasty sludge, but sludge nonetheless. Not so with liquid, which blends easily and totally with the coffee and my other add-ins.

I try to be a responsible consumer, so I like to see labels proclaiming “organic,” “single origin” and “fair trade,” which aims to give growers fair compensation for their products. My Cholaca is “lightly sweetened” with organic, fair trade coconut sugar. They also make unsweetened and more sweetened, as well as pure cacao wafers that must be a dream to bake with. (Next time I’m in cookie-making mode, I’ll use some.) I’m not a beer drinker, but the Boulder Beer Company’s St. Patrick’s Day release of Irish Blessing, a seasonal oak-aged coffee stout brewed with an abundance of black and chocolate malts for a bittersweet chocolate finish might have changed my thinking.

I get together with friends for coffee at The Laughing Goat every Friday morning. I it turns out that they also carry Cholaca, so I’ll order my weekly cappuccino with a shot. The cacao is grown in Peru and Ecuador, and the company is based in Boulder. That makes it appropriate for this Colorado-focused blog — that and the fact that I really like it.

Lyons Liqueur Medals in New York

Local liqueur features decaf coffee & clean alcohol.

richardosbottleRichardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur, a 40-proof liqueur made with naturally decaffeinated coffee, pure vanilla and neutral grain spirits, was awarded a Silver Medal at the 7th Annual New York International Spirits Competition. It is the fifth international award win for Richardo’s, which can be used in cocktails, cooking and baking, and served neat or over ice. Do alcohol and decaf coffee cancel each other out?

Richard England makes his liqueur through a patent-pending process blending neutral grain spirits with England’s signature mix of naturally decaffeinated coffee, high-quality vanilla and other ingredients, then aged for at least 30 days. England and his wife, Linda, started making Richardo’s in small batches in 1986 , mainly for family and friends. In 2012, he teamed up with Spirit Hound Distillers to take his recipe to production scale while still keeping the rich, creamy and smooth taste of the liqueur intact.

According to England, Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur is made with high-quality vanilla and decaffeinated coffee, which requires less sugar to overcome the natural bitterness of caffeine.

Made just outside Denver in Lyons, Colorado, Richardo’s is available at Spirit Hound Distillers tasting room on the east side of in Lyons. We’ve passed it a million times en route to Estes Park. We’ve got to stop next time for a distillery tour and to try some Richardo’s. If you aren’t going though Lyons, click here for Colorado liquor stores and restaurant where you can find it.  4196 Ute Highway (US Highway 36), Lyons; 303- 823-5696 (tasting room) or 720- 636-4525.

Lakewood Coffee Roaster on Top-21 List

Lakewood’s Sweet Bloom on the national map.

Thrillist-logoWhen I read the headline,  “The 21 Best Coffee Roasters in the Country,” I idly wondered which Boulder or Denver roaster would be on the list. Answer is “none” — or “one, sort of.”  Sweet Bloom is the only Colorado roaster to make the list. It’s located in Lakewood, but its bags say “Denver.”

Sweet Bloom
Lakewood, CO
The bean: San Adolfo Colombia (floral, berry, nougat)
Most roasters are proud to have visited the farms they source their coffee from, but Sweet Bloom takes it a step further by actually inviting its farmers to its Lakewood, CO headquarters to taste the fruits of their labor, which happen to be roasted by a guy who’s taken home first or second in nearly all of the most important competitions in coffee. The roasts skew lighter than average, with an emphasis on sweetness (go figure) and floral aromatics. Word on the street is that Colombian beans are the move, but it’s hard not to try the Guatemalans once you hear the story of the third-generation farmers behind the crop.

Illy Cafe in Denver Hotel

Colorado’s first location of Italian cafe.

Illy-logoIlly, which the company insists on writing with a lower-case I (attractive on the logo but challenging to read in sans-serif type), recently opened  opening its first free-standing café in Colorado,

Actually, the 650-square-foot Illy Caffé Bar is semi-freestanding, since it is located within the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel but also has a direct street-side entrance on the hotel’s 17th Street side, just off Champa. Indoor and outdoor seating for 40 mean it’s more than an stand-up/take-out place.

Since its founding in 1933 by Francesco Illy in cosmopolitan Trieste, Italy, the family-run company continues to be a prestigious brand for coffee culture in more than 140 countries.


New Cafe Slated for UniHill Building

Alpine Modern Café is design-master Lon McGowan’s new venture.

One of my favorite buildings in Boulder is the stone structure at the corner of 9th and College, across from Columbia Cemetery. It long housed Delilah’s Pretty Good Grocery and then a short-lived cooperative food store called The Second Kitchen (see image below). Now Lon McGowan, ace designer, owner of LON Little Shop in downtown Boulder and publisher of Alpine Modern magazine, has taken over the building and is turning it into the Alpine Modern Café, slated to open in May.

Expect to see a sleek, contemporary interior within the distinctive exterior. McGowan has hired Alex Baum, who previously opened the Wild Goose Meeting House in Colorado Springs, to manage the café. It plans to serve specialty coffees, chai and hot chocolate in custom-made mugs plus small plates and Scandinavian-style, open-face sandwiches and specialty toasts served on hand-crafted trays.

The Alpine Modern Café will be at 904 College Avenue, Boulder, 303-264-7638

Novo Coffee Growth Predicted’s Denver pick for coffee shops that will grow greatly. 

Eater-logoDenver’s Novo Coffee is on’s short list of “10 Coffee Shops That Will Explode in 2015” — not literally of course. The site sees coffee shops in emerging communities as the harbinger of increased neighborhood vitality, and Novo, which is vintage as such enterprises go, seems to fit that model. The slogan is “Family owned. People focused. Quality driven.” No arguing with that.

Here’s what the site wrote about Novo:


Location: 3617 W. 32nd, Denver, Colorado
Key Players: Jake, Herb, and Joseph Brodsky
Projected Opening: March 2015
Since 2002, this family-owned venture in Denver has been providing local coffee shops and restaurants with beans, which they roast themselves in a classic Vittoria machine. Currently the roastery is open to the public on Fridays for cuppings and tours, but they have two — and soon to be three — retail locations for daily drop-ins. Novo is next taking over a space formerly occupied by Yogurt Guru in West Highland. Time to trade up your sugar addiction for a caffeine habit.

Novo’s two other Denver shops are at 1600 Glenarm St and 1700 East 6th Avenue. If is a trend prognosticator, I wonder whether the bloom is off the frozen yogurt rose, to be replaced by coffee.

Hearty Breakfast in Breck Standby

Gold Pan is more than a vintage saloon. It serves espresso drinks!

T-shirtBreckenridge‘s Gold Pan Saloon & Restaurant has been around since 1879, surviving the booms and busts that characterize Colorado’s historic mining towns. The current boom, which shows no signs of ebbing, is skiing coupled with robust summer tourism.  According to local lore, Long’s Saloon opened in 1860 in a tent structure where the Gold Pan building was put up around 1879.  now stands. It was one of some 18 saloons in Breckenridge at that time. The current Gold Pan is considered, according to the website, to be “the oldest operating bar in Summit County and one of Colorado’s Oldest & Finest.” Historic photos and assorted “old stuff” on the walls underscore the saloon’s longevity.

Well-worn barstools and an ornate, mirrored mahogany back bar live up to the
Well-worn barstools and an ornate, mirrored mahogany back bar live up to the “saloon” moniker. The flat-screen TV is a 21st-century intrusion into authenticity — but patrons would flee without it.

In the afternoon and evening, the Pan rocks with folks passing through the swinging doors and vying for well-worn barstools or at vintage tables around the old potbelly stove in the front room The back room (actually, the room to the right of the “front” room) has a pool table — and according to an overheard conversation, might eventually have two. The Pan may look like a dive bar, but in truth, the town has become too upscale for a rally ratty one — and as well as the availability espresso drinks plus clean, modern restrooms underscore the (welcome) gentrification. Still family-owned, it succeeds in balancing the picturesque old with the requisite new.

Ancient woodstove is still in use.
Ancient woodstove is still in use.

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