Look for the graffiti
The search for Intelligentsia led me to the Crema Coffehouse, 2862 Larimer St Denver, CO. No, not intelligentsia as in a social class of people grinding away at complex mental Rubik's cubes desperate to shine a light on culture often for people that didn't want it or couldn't understand it. That was Russia in the late 1800's. Artists. Teachers. Authors. And, I suspect people that loved, or would have loved, great coffee. No, my Intelligentsia is a coffee company founded in 1995 on the north side of Chicago and where you can find the purest espresso possible. Since expanded to include stores in Los Angeles and NYC, Intelligentsia is also known to source out their beans to others and Crema is one of those places.
Crema is located in the RiNo neighborhood - River North Art District - just north of downtown. Truth be told, I had no idea this neighborhood existed, but I'll be back. My kind of place, the district, which has adopted a Rhino design for its official insignia, is rapidly becoming the hotspot for artsy types in Denver, with a remarkable array of creative businesses.
Crema is one of those businesses. As the home page of their site says, "Crema is the lovely layer of thickly effervescent foam that defines well-crafted espresso." Based on the espresso that I had, it's not just a talking point for these guys. It's a fact put into practice. I came back later to tour the graffiti in the alleys east of Larimer and ducked in for a cappucino. The balance of espresso and milk was perfect. Velvet and texture at the same time. And, this was cappucino on an artistic scale. I once read a great article (The Cappucino) that goes into fine detail about cappucino. I can't describe it so eloquently, but Crema nails it.
And, the place is filled with character. From the graffiti on the outside wall, to the concrete floors, the local art hanging up for sale, the eclectic and extremely gracious staff, the sweet potato waffles - you simply cannot go wrong here. But, mainly, it's the coffee.
If you like Intelligentsia in Chicago,
or Blue Bottle in San Francisco,
or Blue State in Boston, give this place a try.