story by Drew Knott. Photos by Penamora Photo.
It is not by happenstance that Denver is one of America’s great craft coffee communities. There’s an abundance of well-established top-level coffee talent and an eager upstarts. But the big thing is that the community is organized, through a number of regularly appearing and pop-up events, and through the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance.
A large representation of Denver’s craft coffee community could be found in one place last weekend at Denver’s inaugural Grand Coffee Bazaar, described by organizer Imbibe Denver as a “curated coffee event and festival” that brought together some of the area’s best roasters in the parking lot of the aptly named Our Mutual Friend Brewery.
The $30 event ticket gave consumers a coffee cup with a map of all the roasters participating and associated retail shops in the city, unlimited coffee samples, two drink tickets good for a specialty espresso drink or a beer from the brewery and a ticket to one of the food trucks on site.
An effective twist in consumer-focused coffee events, the bazaar consisted of five experiential learning stations: History and Origin; Processing; Regions; Roasting; and Brewing. Each one of these stations was manned by at least three roasters, there to share the stories of their coffees and provide comparative tastings to one another. In other words, each roaster wasn’t just pushing its own coffee; instead, their coffees were used to tell single chapters in a larger coffee story.
For instance, the Roasting Station featured Flying Baron Roasters, Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Marley Coffee. Each put forth coffees of a similar origin and with similar unroasted characteristics, brewed with the same pourover method. But each was highlighting a different roast level. In simplest terms, Flying Baron featured a light roast, Boxcar a medium and Marley coffee a dark.
This kind of roaster-by-roaster, station-by-station mentality results in a unified environment. Said Ryan Petterson of Stapleton Roasters, “This is about growing the Denver coffee scene.”