Hannah Ulbrich has always felt at home in coffeehouses, which is why she now owns two.
Copper Door Coffee Roasters began in 2006 solely as a roaster. In 2014, Ulbrich purchased the business and took over the roasting. She also added a brick-and-mortar coffee shop at 932 Jersey Street in a former ice cream parlor. With business growing, Ulbrich decided to start looking for a second location. “We had hit capacity with our roasting at our first location and we needed a larger roaster, which meant a larger space,” she says.
In November 2016 she found Copper Door’s second home in a new development aptly named the Yard, at 900 West First Avenue.
The Yard, formerly a lumberyard, now houses a variety of local businesses, including Renegade Brewing's production facility, a gym, the soon-to-open Smokin’ Yards BBQ, a distillery and Board Game Republic.
Copper Door is the first business to occupy its space, which meant a clean slate. “We wanted to keep the vintage-y feel with the doors, which we replicated, and the same color scheme so you know you’re in a Copper Door location,” says Ulbrich. And unlike at the Jersey Street shop, the doors here actually go somewhere.
Baked goods such as pumpkin cheesecake and signature toaster pastries are still sourced from Sugar Bakeshop. “We wanted to keep some of the same consistencies and support the businesses who have supported us all the way through, too,” Ulbrich adds. Her other requests for interior design included a statement chandelier — which now hangs over the bar — and plenty of space.
The new roaster, which occupies the back corner of the shop, has the capacity to roast sixty pounds of beans per hour, compared to fifteen pounds at Jersey Street. Ulbrich roasts two days a week to fill orders for an expanding list of local customers including Marczyk Fine Foods, SloHi Coffee Co., To the Wind Bistro and the Corner Beet — and even shops in locations as far away as Philadelphia.
Ulbrich, who is also the chair of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance, has turned production over to head roaster Nikol Werner so that she can to focus her attention on promoting RMCAA and coffee in general. As a former high school and college English teacher, Ulbrich has a passion for education, and she designed the space with that passion at the forefront. The higher tables in the back of the shop provide seating for customers as well as plenty of space for cuppings, tastings, demonstrations and classes.
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“As a barista or roaster, you spend the majority of your time making drinks for other people. You rarely have a chance to stop, cup, taste and evaluate coffee,” explains Ulbrich, who says that doing so results in a higher-quality product. Her goal is to teach both people in the industry and consumers how to taste coffee, and give them the vocabulary to describe it. “We’ve gone through that with wine, people have gone that way now with craft beer.... I think there’s room for consumers to become more educated on coffee tasting,” she says.
Ulbrich and the Copper Door team will celebrate the new shop's grand opening all day today (Friday, October 13), with a food truck (Wong Way Veg), giveaways including coffee and swag, and free activities like a roasting demonstration with Werner, coffee cupping with Ulbrich, and a tea tasting. For a full schedule of events, visit the Copper Door Facebook page.
If you aren’t able attend the grand opening, you can catch the team at the fourth annual Grand Coffee Bazaar at 3003 Larimer Street on Saturday, October 14. Copper Door is the only female-owned coffee roaster in Denver, and Ulbrich and her team will be showcasing coffees made by women there.
Even before the grand opening, there's plenty of activity at the new Copper Door. Across the parking lot, Renegade employees are moving kegs; regulars from the original location are visiting inside, as two kids play hide and seek around the tiled bar. Ulbrich is happy to have another home-away-from-home spot. “The neighborhood will help dictate the vibe of this place. As long as its friendly, I’m good,” she concludes.