Thump Coffee, Denver CO

A new coffee shop opened a few weeks ago in the Capital Hill area of Denver that’s definitely worth checking out. They’re new to Denver, but Thump is from Bend Oregon where they’ve had a shop and a roasting facility.

I’m always both excited and apprehensive to try a new place. I love trying new coffee and seeing what different places do with their space and how they feel. But, what if their coffee isn’t any good?

No such worries at Thump. After just walking in the door, I knew that it was going to be great. We were greeted with a very pleasant open space with a lot of seating that was completely occupied on a Sunday afternoon. I immediately was drawn to the Steampunk, a new siphon-like machine they have for their single origins. I was so interested in seeing one of these machines in person, that it took me a while to notice that they had Slayer espresso machines.

Steampunk or Slayer? It’s impossible to choose, there’s only one answer: both. I had an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe out of the Steampunk, and a Cortado out of the Slayer. Both were fantastic.

My 6 year old had a hot chocolate with chocolate syrup that they make at Thump, and his verdict? He finished it off, and with a big chocolate mustache, he said: “That was ridiculously yummy.”

When we went in, there were no seats left, and we decided just to stand in the back with a little railing. It turns out we stood next to where their roaster is going to go: it’s on its way. Right now, the beans are shipped in from Oregon, but once it arrives, they’re be roasting in the store.

We stood there for a bit enjoying our drinks, and were perfectly happy. But, they noticed we were standing and apologized that there weren’t any seats left and brought out extra chairs from the back for us. How great is that?

So, both for the very friendly staff and for the excellent coffee (and hot chocolate), definitely go and welcome Thump to Denver.

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Crema Coffee, Denver CO

I hadn’t been into Crema for a few weeks when I finally stopped back in last week. I should go more often: Crema is one of my favorites. There didn’t used to be much in the way of quality coffee on the Front Range, and Crema was one of the first places in Denver doing a great job with quality coffee. 

When I walked through the door, I was surprised to see the trademark plywood wall with the menu on it gone. They knocked out the wall and expanded back, which adds some welcome elbow room and some more seating. Fortunately, the addition doesn’t really change the feel of the place. It’s still all about the coffee, and feels a bit hip-grungy in a good way.

As far as I can tell, Crema was the first in Denver to do a second rotating espresso, which is a tradition that I love. You can try a cycle of different roasters this way, and compare different tastes from around the country. They always have Herkimer as their regular espresso, and rotate through Intelligensia, Counter Culture, Victrola, Dogwood, Novo and others on the 2nd.

They have French Press single origins, and with the extra room, they’ve also added a V60 pour-over bar as well. Like the espresso, it’s a rotating selection from different roasters.

There’s a food angle here also that I haven’t delved into too much – I always go for the coffee. But, I’ve seen some tasty looking things coming out of the kitchen. Some of that goes to the coffee side as well: they make their own vanilla and chocolate syrups. My wife had an outstanding mocha with their home-made chocolate syrup. And, the vanilla gets a big thumbs up from my 6-year-old. I suspect he’s as picky about his steamed milks as I am about my coffee.

So, when I went in last week and tried their latest rotating espresso, and saw the addition, I was initially worried that Crema’s vibe and quality might be undermined. By the end of my Cortado and a fun coffee conversation with the Barista though, I was re-assured. It’s the same old Crema, just with a bit more room.

Metropolis Coffee, Denver CO

I find it amazing how different various coffee shops feel. On the surface, they’re all the same: they all have an espresso machine, seating, cream and napkin station, etc. But, every single one has its own character and feel. Some I walk into and want to turn around immediately. Some I walk into and am immediately at home in.

Metropolis in lower Highlands is one of those places that for some almost intangible reason just has a great feel to me. It’s very cleanly designed, but with warm wood tones and great coffee-related decorations.

I’m a sucker for all-things coffee, so the old retired Mazzer grinders as decoration on one wall, and the selection of various pour overs methods on the other reels me in. I enjoyed thumbing through coffee-industry magazines while drinking my Cortado. I’m probably only one of a few people that would even care about this, but I love that they feature their water filtration system: it’s in a picture frame on the wall.

But, really, for me it’s about the coffee, and Metropolis delivers. They have a Synesso and Chemex pour over, and do an excellent job with their chosen roaster: Herkimer from Seattle. Herkimer does quality coffee very well, in my opinion. Shockingly, on a recent trip, their decaf espresso was bursting with fruit and chocolate notes. In fact, I’d say that my wife’s decaf Cortado was more interesting and complex than my regular Cortado. That doesn’t happen: decaf espresso is extremely difficult to do well. So, big kudos to both Herkimer and Metropolis for presenting an outstanding decaf espresso.

I didn’t get much detailed commentary, but my son’s vanilla steamed milk disappeared in near-record time. And, usually, any commentary from him isn’t a good thing.

Metropolis also has a Golden Triangle location with a different (but also great) feel, and the same excellent coffee. I’d suggest stopping by and taking in the great atmosphere and coffee any chance you get.

Little Owl Coffee, Denver CO

Little Owl Coffee is a great new coffee shop in LoDo. They’re packed into a small space with only a few seats inside, and some nice patio seating. But, what they’re doing is anything but small.

The space feels great inside – don’t be dissuaded by the small size. They serve Counter Culture for espresso, pour-over and aeropress. They have a La Marzocco Strada for espresso, which in my book is right up there with a Synesso Hyrda as the current two top machines for espresso. I’ll stop myself before I drone on about the relative merits of pressure profiling and temperature stability, but suffice it to say that among the recent espressos I like the most, they seem to be coming out of these two machines.

I stopped in there with my family a few weekends ago, and everything was excellent: Cortado, decaf Cortado, decaf Latte and a kid’s vanilla steamed milk. And, despite us coming in right before they were closing, they were outgoing and friendly and went out of their way to make us feel welcome and not rushed.

On their menu, they list their espresso drinks and also list out the amount of espresso and milk in each one. For example, an espresso is listed as 2/0 espresso/milk, a Cortado as 2/2, a Cappucino as 2/4 and a Latte as 2/10. I’ve never seen a shop do this before, and I love it.

So, I’d recommend taking the time to find Little Owl in LoDo, the latest addition to the excellent Denver coffee scene.