1. Caribou Coffee – Woody Creek Bakery and Cafe (I promise this is the only commercial coffeeshop – I needed caffeine and it was right in front of me)
Delectable and laid-back, this conveniently located cafe has everything you need – from fajita wraps to kale salads to speciality coffee to free cookies (that’s a seller right there). I know there should be no surprises with a chain that falls second only to Starbucks, but what made this visit special was the welcoming attitude of the staff and their willingness to help me out with my mission. So what did I order? I asked the manager to surprise me with his favorite specialty coffee – and he gave me a nice warm cup of Starlight coffee. Just a tall gave me ALL the caffeine I needed for the day. I think I’m still on it. And only for ~$2! Definitely recommend this comfy place as a nice place to study (for all you college kids out there) and have good coffee. Rating 4/5
2. The Cup
Never having walked in this famous fair-trade-organic coffee shop before (there’s always a line – their coffee is just that good), I was expecting an energetic, hipster-urban environment. Which is exactly what I got. You are likely to find students, youngsters, the elders, and everyone in between with expressive haircuts and statement scarves all working on their apple laptops (like me right now). Their retro decor represents Boulder’s famous earthy vibes. In the mood for orange chocolate macaroons? They have ’em. Personal strawberry rhubarb pie? They have that too. When I asked Krysti, a barista, what her favorite part about the job was, she said, “It’s like a constant DANCE PARTY! At least when I’m around!” I couldn’t have asked for a better answer. To make this place extra special, single origin espressos from all over the world are offered every weekend.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Dark – perfect for black coffee lovers who are on the run. Leaves a nice bittersweet aftertaste that makes your mouth water long after you’ve taken your last sip.
Ethiopia: Light and jumpy, I crown it the official summer coffee. It is the fruitiest coffee I have ever tasted…. if I could marry this cup of coffee, I definitely would.
3. Ozo Coffee: Pearl Street
Other than having the coolest logo ever, Ozo has some of the best espresso shots I’ve ever had. I’ve been here a couple times before, mainly because they have plenty of seating and a great motivating atmosphere. When (more like if) I want to study neurophysiology, this is the place I wanna be at. Unlike the Cup, they have single origin coffee every day! This time, I sampled an Ethiopian single origin blend – fruity undertones present but still has that dark yummy goodness that true deep black coffee has. It isn’t as fruity as the Ethiopian coffee at The Cup, but the strength and depth of the coffee is perfectly balanced with the fruity texture (the art major in me likes the word depth). The second coffee I sampled was the specialty Ozo blend – again, a single origin Sumatra coffee. It reminded me of Starbucks – probably because Starbucks loves their Sumatra a little too much, at least in my opinion. Shoutout to the the staff who made some time me on a busy, busy day – much appreciated! Due to their success, they have opened a couple more shops around Boulder, and I found their coffee being served at a new shop in Colorado Springs, which is awesome because my parents live 5 minutes away from it! 4/5
4. Trident Cafe and Bookstore
One word that describes this place – home. With old brick walls and an endless supply of niche books, this place gives me cozy feels. If The Cup represents the urban-hipsterness that Boulder embodies, then Trident represents the soul searching, eastern loving population that Boulder graciously houses. How do I know this? While I was just sitting and enjoying their rich and beautiful cappuccino, I was somehow dragged into a conversation about ego death. I don’t know many places where it is acceptable to talk to strangers about your deepest beliefs and carry out an inquisitive discussion. All while listening to background classical Indian music that I woke up to every morning when I was a child (my family is Indian, obv). Not to mention their endless amount of seating, sofa booths, and their outdoor stage where events are regularly held. If you are in Boulder, definitely check this place out. I would say that Trident focuses on the experience and fosters an environment of knowledge, but their cappuccino was as delicious as it looked. Yea, if you knew me you’d know that this is where I belong. Haters gonna hate! 5/5
Photo cred – whereisbouldercolorado.com I wish I took a cool picture of the store but my camera died 😦 I really wanted to show you the store!
5. Spruce Confections
This tiny little bakery cafe is tucked away on the far west end central Boulder and the historical district. Wildly popular for its pastries, this place is a secret favorite of travelers (the historical district is where all the retired wealthy travelers live). While I was sitting in the corner on their little red tables, I had a conversation with an elderly couple who met while solo traveling! It was like sitting in front of a future version of me. The lady was my wise oracle who answered literally every question about everything. I vowed to be her when I grow up. Seriously. The couple even offered to let me stay in their apartment in Bali when I end up going! Anways, cool couple aside, Spruce coffee compliments their pastries – it’s sweet. They make their own vanilla syrup for the lattes! Is that cool or what? They also have this highly, highly caffeinated drink called the Spruce Juice, which is also sweet and absolutely heavenly. While they have an array of other coffees as well, these are the two that they are really proud of. In addition to coffee, the chief baker gave me a GIANT cookie made of oats, nuts, and vanilla (they really love their vanilla), and a little spoonful of fresh batch buttercream. I promise I’m not lying when I say that it’s the best buttercream I’ve ever had. So far, this coffee crawl is turning out pretty good ❤ 3.5/5
6. The Unseen Bean
Location = prime. While every place I have been to so far have given me powerful coffees enough to make my head buzz with happiness, the Unseen Bean gave me delicate flavors that gave my taste buds a break. It is said that the BLIND owner of this coffee shop is roasts his own beans. HOW DOES HE DO THAT? Apparently, his really experienced nose takes over for his eyes and only stops roasting the beans when they ‘smell’ done. That takes skill, if you ask me. I tried the toddy cold brew, and a brew from the Congo. I’ve never had a cold brew before, but let me tell you – I think cold brews are a lot more flavorful. Counterintuitive, I know. But if you get the chance, try one! Great for people who don’t really like the bitterness coffee much, but want to have a good dose of get-me-outta-bed. 3/5 (only because I like really dark coffees).
That’s it for central Boulder! The Hill, Southern and less-central Boulder reviews coming soon!