This past week, the Aspen born coffee company, Ink! received negative press over a mind boggling sign they displayed at their Five Points location. The sign proudly read “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”, in the historically black neighborhood. Much to no surprise this resulted in the store being vandalized, a protest, and national press. It’s hard to believe that any professional would sit there and think that this was a good idea or maybe they were too busy smoking Colorado’s biggest GDP contributor.
Gentrification is a bit of a controversial issue as Denver and surrounding areas are redeveloped to fit the new populations flocking to Colorado. Many individuals who have resided in Denver feels feel they are being priced out and are being forced to sell their homes, leaving them with a more troubled economic future. Gentrification is a complex issue because on one hand it does lead to nicer areas with lower crime levels, but on the other hand at its extreme it leaves no room for a truly rich diverse community.
The seemingly overnight gentrification of Five Points has left little time for the originating community to build economic power and to become business owners in the neighborhoods they are being pushed out of. Of course, what can one do? The sign that Ink! coffee displayed is not wrong. Pretty much every new coffee shop, yoga studio, health food store, etc. are part of the gentrification process of Denver.
Are coffee shops the enemy of the common person? Of course not. Coffee shops can provide a valuable space for the community connect. It’s a place where students can study, business ideas can be formed, and a place where stories can be shared. Small businesses like coffee shops are an important staple in the valued middle class. Many coffee shops in the Denver metro area do just that.
Here is my list of (7) coffee shops that go to the extra lengths to enrich the communities they reside in.
- Whittier Cafe Millete Birhanemaskel had only thing in mind when she named her coffee shop after the neighborhood it resided in. Whittier cafe is designed to be a cultural hang out for the community, specializing in African coffees, beers, and wines. Visitors are also welcome to stop by the small community library to grab a book or donate a few of their own. What really makes Whittier cafe unique is the Ethiopian coffee ceremonies that happen every Sunday at 2 p.m. Birhanemaskel explains, “People think about Africa, and they think about negative things like poverty, so I was really intentional about teaching people something beautiful about Africa.” 1710 E 25th Ave. Denver, Colorado
Cooper Door Coffee was started by Sinjin Eberle in 2006, becoming an early innovator in the now bursting indie coffee industry. Hannah Ulbrich learned from Copper’s former owner and then bought the business in 2014, becoming the first female-owned roasting company in Denver. Hannah is glad to blend science and creativity in the coffee she offers in small roasted batches or in the fresh cups you can purchase at her cafes.
932 Jersey St. Denver, CO 80220
900 W. 1st Ave. #180 Denver, CO 80223
Where can you purchase a cup of coffee that truly supports The American Dream? At Emily’s Coffee, located inside Emily Griffith Technical College. The baristas at Emily’s Coffee are refugees and immigrants who are learning English and are taking their first steps within the American working culture. The pastries served at the cafe are baked by students from the Emily Griffith baking program, which go wonderfully with a cup of coffee.
Prodigy coffee provides a one of a kind year-long apprenticeship program for young adults struggling in school or their current work endeavors. The apprenticeship program encourages at-risk youth to build the skills they need to be successful in their own career goals and to enrich their own communities. Best of all those who take part in the apprenticeship earn a Denver living wage of $15 an hour plus tips. Prodigy coffee offers up to four hours of free daytime working space work spaces for all who are interested, but especially for those who are working to do good in the local community.
3801 E 40th Ave, Denver, CO
Michelle and Babette opened Quince Essential Coffee House in 2015 in hope of creating a local hangout for people of all walks of life. This coffee hangout offers open mic nights every first Saturday. They’ve hosted everything from acapella groups to live painters. Of course all creative types are welcome to strut their stuff. If you are looking to find a small town oriented coffee house right in the center of Denver then look no further than Quince Essential coffee shop.
1447 Quince St, Denver, CO
If you happen to be in the Five Points area and are looking for independent coffee shop then check out Purple Door Coffee House. The cafe is works to employs teens and young adults who are experiencing homelessness and are looking for a way to transition out of their position. The coffee shop got its name from referencing the fact that purples was historically linked to royalty. The organizations believes that every person, no matter their station in life, has value and deserves to be treated like royalty.
2962 Welton St. Denver, CO