Coffee started as a hobby for Phil Goodlaxson, owner of Corvus Coffee. "I have a business degree, I did the corporate life for a bit, and when I'd had enough of that, I started looking for something that would be an artisan craft. I started getting more and more interested in coffee," he explains.
That was five or six years ago, when Goodlaxson started seeking out good coffee. Now he wants to help others get it.
But first, Goodlaxson started experimenting with home roasting. "I was interested in where beans came from, and how soil and climate affected coffee," he explains.
Through connections he'd made in the industry, he met Jeff Babcock, who owns Zoka Coffee in Seattle. And Babcock sent Goodlaxson in a surprising direction. "He said, 'You should go to Norway,'" Goodlaxson remembers. "And at first I said, 'What? Norway?' But there's such a healthy coffee climate out there. There's such a good focus on the central core components of coffee. Norwegians focus on how coffee tastes and what it tastes like. They're making big strides in the coffee industry, and they really put the emphasis and the credit on the farmer."
When he returned to the States, he was determined to preserve that coffee culture in his endeavors. "I try to find the best coffee in the world and do it justice," he says.
Just over a year ago, Goodlaxson picked up a five kilogram roaster, and that's when Corvus really launched. "I met Eric [Yochim], who owns Two Rivers Coffee out in Arvada," he says. "I did a limited run emphasizing focus on the farmer and not on the brand name. It was a huge success."
Goodlaxson and his wife, Autumn, then began selling the coffee at the Cherry Creek and Stapleton farmers' markets last season, amassing a crowd of fans in the process. "It was really cool to see how interested people were in what we were doing, and we had a ton of regulars, he says. Including the owners of Kindness Yoga, who offered up a space in front of their studio at 1947 South Broadway where Goodlaxson could build out a shop. "They're good business partners," he notes. "We have a similar mindset."
Goodlaxson inked the deal for the South Broadway space, and he just started construction. When his shop opens, he'll roast on site. "It's a really good way to start out," he explains of his decision to go the retail route rather than wholesale. "Denver's at a really good point for coffee . People seek out good coffee, and they're into the visibility and farm-to-table aspects of food. Specialty coffee is about finding a clear line of sight from the coffee cup: where it comes from and what it tastes like, with an emphasis on the farmer. Roasting right on site really engages people in that conversation."
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The roaster hasn't nailed down a specific timeline for the build-out, but he says he hopes to be open in a couple of months.
Oh, and the name Corvus? It refers to the bird species that includes the crow, raven and blackbird. One of the legends about the discovery of coffee, says Goodlaxson, surrounds a boy being led to the coffee bean by a crow. "They're also really intelligent birds," he says. "And we're about really intelligent coffee."