“I wanted to create Roostercat so I would have a place to hang out with all my friends,” says Colin Floom, sitting on the patio of his laid-back cafe at 1045 Lincoln Street. Before founding Roostercat in 2012, Floom “was just a coffee-shop whore. All I did between films was sit at different coffee shops.”
Although running the neighborhood cafe was originally a side project for the Denver filmmaker, Floom has decided to build a second career in coffee. After buying out partner Autumn Green last December, Floom installed a Slayer Espresso machine in the mezzanine of the high rise at 1999 Broadway, opening a second Roostercat there in May. In addition to that, Floom just completed a renovation of the original coffee shop and anticipates opening two more locations before the year’s end.
During the first expansion, the ten-employee business added five more staff members and is likely to double that again with the additional spots.
Floom speculates that what draws the regulars to Roostercat is primarily about having a good location with a patio. “We’re also not snobby," he adds. "You see people in business suits sitting next to the most hipster person you’ve ever seen. We have outlets on our outdoor patio, we have fire pits; the wi-fi 99 percent of the time is strong and fast and works.
“We’ve been open five years now; I feel like Roostercat’s a success because we’re a staple in Capitol Hill. People move here and they think we’ve been here fifteen years,” he continues, noting that most of the profits have been recycled back into the business.
Colin Floom with one of Roostercat's house roasts.
In mid-June, Floom installed taps for nitro coffee and cold brew at the Lincoln location. He parted with a large leather couch to make more space for booths and built a new bar from refurbished boxcar lumber, with the order counter turned 90 degrees to face the door. In addition to serving its own coffee roasts, Roostercat’s new menu includes concoctions with names like Fidel’s Little Secret, the Charlotte Rose, the Lavender Latte and the Spicy Mocha Roostercat.
Even with nitro coffee on tap and all the lavender syrup he could ever want, Floom admits, “I just drink black coffee. I love just coffee. I’m attracted to the smell, the aroma. I worked on a fishing boat in Alaska, and every morning we would roll out cigarettes and drink black coffee. That was the best coffee in the world, even though it was probably Folgers.”
Although Roostercat technically resides in the Golden Triangle, Floom still likes to align himself with Capitol Hill, for all its hipster vibe and growing pains. “When we moved here, a studio would cost $450, $500 a month — you could find those. Those studios are now $1,000 if you’re lucky,” he reflects. “That drives a lot of people out who are typically your younger kids, so now we’re getting a more sophisticated demographic between late twenties, early forties range — and they demand a better product, so that’s why we’re doing the remodel.”
“Gentrification? That’s an easy way to explain what happened,” Floom says, wishing he had a better word to describe the changes. “The positive would be purely financial, more people, more profits...[and] I love seeing Denver grow. With our neighborhood, though, the negatives are that there’s a lot of amazing human beings that I’ve seen come and go — artists, friends, comedians, musicians, businesspeople — that just can’t afford to live in Capitol Hill, and they don’t come here anymore, and it sucks.”
The new Roostercat is a little more modern than the laid-back original.
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As the neighborhood changes, Floom says he wants to maintain the community feel of the cafe. Besides selling caffeine, he hangs artwork from Luke Akelson and Curt Bean on the walls.
Floom also makes sure his eclectic group of employees always has a place to come back to. “If you work here and you’re in a band, you go on tour — you absolutely have a job when you come back. If you’re an actor and you’re in a movie and are gone for three weeks, we will absolutely get it covered,” he says.
In 2013, Westword placed Roostercat alongside Stella’s Coffeehaus and St. Mark's as one of the city’s “top ten coffee shops to have a conversation in,” Floom recalls. “Seeing my coffee shop in the list of these coffee shops I’d looked up to for years — that was it: I did it.”