Boulder is brimming with college students, tech professionals, artists and entrepreneurs, so naturally, this town is highly caffeinated at all times! You’ll find a coffee shop around every corner in Boulder, ready to cater to the laptop-and-latte crowd — and casual coffee connoisseurs, too.
Boulder was recently named one of America's hottest up-and-coming coffee cultures by Expedia and is tied with Seattle for coffee shops per capita. Below is a sampling of hot spots to get you started, but you could well make a grand tour of Boulder coffeehouses that would have you buzzing for days.
Working closely with farmers in far-flung regions, OZO Coffee has a well-deserved reputation in Boulder for its top-quality beans, precise roasting and flavorful brewing. In fact, many of the chefs we interviewed named OZO as a favorite way to start the day (with four Boulder locations to choose from). So well versed in the art of coffee roasting and brewing is OZO that their training lab is one of the few accredited by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. You can even take roasting or barista courses here if you wish, or attend a fascinating cupping event (the coffee version of a tasting). Men's Journal named OZO one of the Top 25 Coffee Roasters in America.
Boxcar's chic space (shared with a gourmet deli) and the science-lab beakers and burners behind the counter clue you in right away to the fact that this coffee shop takes its craft seriously. Boxcar’s knowledgeable baristas take their time creating the perfect cup, so don’t expect to be slung a half-caff soy toffee macchiato in 10 seconds flat — it’s just the basics here, and they are slowly, meticulously hand-crafted to perfection.
Carabiner Coffee roasts their beans in small batches and then takes to the road in “Ol Blue” — an adorable robin’s egg blue 1971 VW Bus — to serve up cups-of-joe-to-go, everywhere from local climbing gyms to alpine summits. You can track their whereabouts on Instagram at @carabinercoffee.
In one of the historic cottages at Chautauqua (a historic district at the foot of the Flatirons) is this charming little shop, open from May through September. The General Store is steps away from Boulder’s most popular hiking area, Chautauqua Trail Head, and serves up a mean latte, fragrant local teas, ice cream and other yummy treats, great for a pre- or post-hike pick-me-up.
Coffee and chocolate, anyone? Local chocolatier Piece, Love & Chocolate is stocked floor to ceiling with mind-blowing confections, and they also have a full espresso bar. Opt for a creamy-dreamy mocha, or forget coffee altogether and go all in with a cup of their famous sipping chocolate. You can also indulge your sweet tooth on the Boulder Coffee and Chocolate Tasting Tour with Local Table Tours. You'll visit some of Boulder's most beloved coffee shops, learn about the different kinds of coffee beans and the unique challenges of roasting at altitude, and finally end with a sweet treat at — where else? — Piece, Love & Chocolate.
One literary hot spot is Trident Booksellers and Cafe, right on Pearl Street. Founded in 1979 by three Buddhist students, Trident is a longtime local's favorite. One side of the shop is warmly lit and filled with bookcases brimming with a well-curated selection of tomes, while the other is a cozy coffee shop perfect for reading your newest book purchase.
The Laughing Goat hosts live music every single night of the week. Their Pearl Street location is a favorite local haunt, with a newer East Boulder location (affectionately referred to as Baby Goat) that's gaining popularity, too. You can also grab a cup on campus at the CU location in Norlin Library.
Boulder tastemakers Lon and Lauren McGowan are the geniuses behind the Alpine Modern gift shop, magazine and cafe trifecta in Boulder — each offering a unique take on modern mountain living. The Hill location of their coffee shop was named one of The Best Places to Buy Coffee in the World by the Financial Times. Stop in for scrumptious avocado toast and a finely crafted espresso drink. Another option: While Red Rock Coffeehouse is tucked safely inside an unsuspecting strip mall, the walls are covered in jaw-dropping nature photography and the super-friendly staff is always a breath of fresh air.
A happy marriage of Colorado-roasted coffee and insanely delicious baked goods (you've gotta try the Old B. cookie) make this tiny shop on the West End of Pearl Street a go-to for neighbors and those finishing hikes in the nearby foothills. Kick back in Spruce Confections' lovely courtyard on a sunny day and enjoy the people watching. There's a North Boulder location to explore, too.
Two shops on Pearl Street's east end are helping keep Boulder's avid cyclist population caffeine-fueled, outfitted and repaired: Stop into Full Cycle to rent a bike for a cruise on the Boulder Creek Path, to shop some killer bikes, or for a tune-up in their repair shop. For a tune-up of a different sort, sidle up to The Tune Up, which is the cafe side of Full Cycle, where you can caffeinate with locally roasted Ampersand espresso or chill your vibe with a local craft beer. Weekly meetups and rides are on tap here, too. A few doors down is Rapha, with a quiet atmosphere, great coffee and sick gear — plus check their impressive roster of weekly group rides. In North Boulder, Amante Coffee is particularly popular with Boulder’s avid cyclist community, too. There’s a Wednesday morning bike ride that leaves from (and returns to) Amante every week. Maybe there's something about an Italian-roasted espresso (the owners import beans direct from Northern Italy) that gives Boulder's bikers extra pep.
Gabee Coffee, named for gabee or gabi, the South Korean word for coffee, was opened by South Korean coffee expert Mr. Chae, who has trained several champion coffee baristas and roasters back in his home country. Gabee's beans are roasted in house, with unique lattes on offer, such as the cherry blossom latte. Check out their latte art on Yelp! Over at Brewing Market, next to the old favorite McGuckin Hardware, you can enjoy a traditional Turkish coffee pour-over, made in beautiful copper pots and served in delicate ceramics. At Beleza Coffee Bar (Beleza is pronounced 'bell-ay-za' and is a Portuguese word for 'beauty'). Try the yerba mate latte or a full range of standard espresso drinks.
Ampersand Coffee Roasters, located in Boulder's Gunbarrel neighborhood, makes an effort to source all their beans from women-owned or -vested farms and co-ops with the goal of empowering female works in coffee-producing companies. Call to visit their tasting room and lab, or to learn the art of espresso pulling, pour-overs and cupping at one of their regularly scheduled classes. Boulder's own Conscious Coffees is making an impact, too. They are a Certified B Corp, which means that social and environmental contributions are as important as profits. You can taste Conscious Coffees at Tod's Espresso Cafe in the Gunbarrel area, a cozy neighborhood shop.
Did you know Boulder is home to a hand-carved Persian teahouse, North America's largest tea factory that you can tour, and a pretty serious tea obsession, in general? Get more information on this Tea Tasting in Boulder page.