One of the Greatest Inventions: A Few Boulder Coffee Shops

“To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.” ~ Hugh Jackman

Trident Bookstore and Coffee Shop on Pearl Street
Trident Bookstore and Coffee Shop on Pearl Street (left). Buchanan’s Coffee Pub on University Hill (right).

And now for a few favourite coffee shops around Boulder, CO:

  1. Trident Book Store – Pearl Street 

Ordered: Plain Iced Coffee

Perks: No extra charge for soy milk and almond milk!

That, and the eclectic, yet homey atmosphere of the coffee shop and adjoining bookstore that make up this Boulder favourite. Potted plants hang from the window looking out onto Pearl Street, and a framed Jack Kerouac quote is positioned on the white wall above the tiny oak countertop, where two baristas are a flurry of motion – taking orders, running used coffee glasses back to the steel sink that takes up more than half of the behind-the-counter space.


There are red-velvet-backed booths, and burnt wood-coloured furniture. A chess board rests lazily on a round table by the tinted window, and next to us, a couple of elderly ladies sit and chat over a steaming glass teapot. “Excuse me, but are you leaving?” one of the ladies asks us, as my friend and I get up to go. “That is our favourite table,” the other lady nods towards us, “and if you don’t mind, we’re going to nab it.” We smile, “yes, absolutely.” It is the most blissful spot in the café, I agree. The bright summer afternoon light pouring in from the outside, illuminating the dark stained tables, the evergreen seat cushions, and creating prisms in coffee glasses. The coffee is good, but the ambiance is better still.

Average Price: $2.55 = small iced coffee

Caught My Eye: Jack Kerouac, different brews of coffee from all around Colorado, the rows of artsy postcards and cards in the bookstore, the attractive hipster barista Ryan Gosling look-alike with wavy blonde hair and dimples.

Also Try: Iced chai latte.

My friend Kat at Trident!
  1. The Cup – Pearl Street

Ordered: Plain Iced Coffee to stay

Perks: The popular coffee shop on Pearl Street offers an out-door patio and a light-filled area in front to work or study, all while sipping Conscious Coffee from modest mugs. Depending on the time of day, the coffee can be bitter or sweet, the area crowded or cozy. The sunny summer afternoon was a crowded one, the iced coffee slightly bitter, the atmosphere a tad hectic. But The Cup is a well-loved Boulder hang, and for good reason – it’s filled with yoga enthusiasts from down the street, bikers stopping in for a quick bite, couples dropping in to share a slice of cake after perusing the Pearl Street shops. It’s perfect for afternoon work session, observing the comings and goings of locals and visitors alike.

View of Pearl Street
View of Pearl Street


Average Price: $4.50 = regular latte

Caught My Eye: The number of Macs in the shop. The funky artwork and the photos of workers harvesting the coffee beans. The words: Sustainable and Eco-friendly.

TheCup3 TheCup

Also Try: Their wide selection of house-made treats. People swear by the cheesecake.

The milkshakes.

  1. Alfalfa’s Grocery Store – next to the Boulder Public Library

Ordered: Small iced coffee always.

Perks: Ozo coffee roasters brews a special blend for Alfalfa’s, and it remains one of my absolute favourite iced coffees to date. It’s nutty and sweet, and with a splash of soy milk, encapsulates summer iced coffee for me. Plus, the store itself is lovely to walk around in. It captures an essence of Boulder – from the Kale and Quinoa soup to the Sherpa Chai stand, to the Organic, Fair-Trade 80% cacao dark chocolate – expect to see plenty of bikers, runners, hikers, and people just out from their yoga class, coming in for an afternoon pick-me-up at the coffee bar.

Top right: best soup in the world + iced coffee. Bottom right: outdoor patio. Top left: CU at Boulder campus. 

Average Price: $2.95 = small iced coffee

Caught My Eye: the weekly specials on coffee drinks. The flowers in Alfalfa’s are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. And the nearly four or five aisles dedicated to multivitamins, and health and whole body wellness.

The sign on the coffee counter that reads:

“We are happy to provide you the following milk alternatives at no additional cost: Soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, goat’s milk, sheep milk, and rice milk.”

Reminds me of this.

The spacious eating area and great outdoor patio.

Also Try: White Bean, Kale, and Golden Quinoa soup. A MUST. And cornbread on the side.

  1. Ozo Roasters 

Ordered: Regular Latte and Mocha to go

Perks: Early mornings are best at this comfortable and cozy café in Boulder. The scones are freshly baked, and the baristas are waking up just as you are. There’s that still, fresh, bright smell of a new day in the air. The coffee has just been brewed, and the latte is sweet without needing sugar, creamy with even skim milk, and no trace of bitterness at all. “It’s the best in Boulder, in my opinion” the barista says and nods, as he rings up the drink order. And I’d have to agree, because that sun-drenched moment of coffee in the morning might just be one of the best in Boulder.

Early morning in Boulder - Chautauqua Park
Early morning in Boulder – Chautauqua Park

Average Price: $4.25 = regular latte

Caught My Eye: Boulderites that are morning regulars. Newspapers and magazines on the tables waiting to be read. Barstools that line the windows countertops. Potted plants in every corner. The abundance of Gluten-Free treats. It is Boulder, after all.

Also try: The muffins. Any. Iced regular coffee. And Bhakti Chai.

Great Study Spot: 

  1. Buchanan’s Coffee Pub – University Hill 

Serving: Conscious Coffee

Buchanan’s Coffee Pub on University Hill

2. Seeds Cafe – Boulder Public Library

Serving: local-made treats, locally roasted coffee






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