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First Look: Public Coffee, a New Kind of Mobile Bar in Denver

Public coffee opens mobile bar in denver

Public Coffee logo

The mobile coffee shop is often regarded in terms of convenience. With relatively low startup costs, a mobile bar can bring coffee to people, not the other way around. The concept extends to larger event pop-ups, where the mobile bar most often plays the part of an additional specialty vendor.

The enthusiastic team behind a new nonprofit in Denver is positioning its new mobile bar, Public Coffee, in a more creative way, as a public tool to create social interaction. It is even extending open invites to the community to help shape its mission and planning. Here’s more on Public Coffee’s shared philosophy:

Public Coffee focuses on beingcollaboratively built because it wants to operate in a completely collaborative manner. It wants its surrounding city to tell it where to show up. It wants communities to take charge of it for their events. It wants neighborhoods to move and utilize its furniture and equipment in a way our team never imagined.

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The shop, springing from a repurposed horse trailer, is intended to defy the model found at many larger brick-and-mortar coffee shops, says Marie Janiszewski, a three-year barista who led the creation of Public Coffee.

“There are places people will go and pay some money to get a coffee and use the coffee shop’s wi-fi. It has really changed the context to being one of internet cafes,” Janiszewski says. “To bring back this value of conversation, we’re going to take the whole context of the coffee house outside. Outside, in the beautiful sunshine of Denver, it’s much easier to speak to the person sitting next to you.”

After raising more than $14,000 in a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, Janiszewski and her team debuted Public Coffee last month at Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, with coffee provided by the nonprofit Agápē Roasting Project. The team has since been traveling around town, providing coffee but also creating physical platforms for community conversation.

Public Coffee Denver premier party pop-up

Janiszewski is pictured second from left at the Public Coffee Premier Party. Photo by Public Coffee.

One of the most innovative concepts behind the bar is financial transparency, as the team sets a daily fundraising goal while supporting a pay-what-you-can model. From Public Coffee:

A daily fundraising goal will be determined at the beginning of each business day, and progress will be updated as the day goes by. Being financially transparent allows visitors to understand how their money will be used so they can determine a reasonable contribution. This encourages customers to share ownership of Public Coffee as they see their contributions support the project’s financial goals.


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