Like most Denver neighborhoods these days, RiNo is full of changes. The good thing about the growth is that it gives us an unending list of new places to try. Blue Sparrow Coffee is one of several new businesses to occupy Backyard on Blake, at 31st and Blake streets.
Since opening, Blue Sparrow (3070 Blake) has served Sträva Coffee. "They're always on our shelves; we use them for espresso always. They're kind of our anchor," says cafe manager Kevin Piaskowski. In addition to Sträva, Blue Sparrow likes to showcase other small-batch roasters, so every two to three weeks, the shop bring in new beans from roasters around the world. Previous roasters have included Five Elephant out of Berlin, Germany, Little Wolf from Ispwich, Massachussetts, and current roaster Tailored Coffee from Eugene, Oregon.
"There are so many big craft companies... We think they make great coffee, but one of the great things about the connectivity of the Internet is that it allows small businesses, like Tailored Coffee, to showcase coffees that you wouldn't normally get and are exceptional," says Piaskowski, who often uses Instagram to find new roasters far beyond Colorado's borders. "I think it's so cool that we can do that. Since we are small [as well], it's great to showcase small roasters that are doing big things and give them attention that they wouldn't normally get."
At just 470 square feet, Blue Sparrow's interior is small, but it was carefully designed by Jeffrey Knott and Fiona Arnold to utilize every bit of space. Knott has had his hand in opening and designing many Denver-based coffee shops, including Prodigy and Pigtrain, but Blue Sparrow is the first he's owned. He joined forces with Arnold of Mainspring Developers, the team behind Backyard on Blake. While working as a barista at places like Fluid and Thump, Knott made a list of what he liked and didn't like, all of which came to fruition in Blue Sparrow.
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On nice days, customers can spill out onto the "backyard" area or the rooftop patio, spaces shared with neighbors the Workroom, Peteybird Ice Cream Sandwiches, the Preservery and others. Blue Sparrow's west-facing garage-door-style window opened up the space, but now remains closed because of regulations surrounding a pending liquor license; the coffee shop hopes to be serving spirits by summertime. And while beer isn't on the menu yet, there are plenty of other beverages available on eight taps, like a Sträva CBD-infused nitro cold brew, which, much like a Guinness, takes time to settle.
Monday through Friday, the shop serves as a meeting space for people who live and work in the neighborhood, and baguette sandwiches from Marczyk Fine Foods and pastries from Enzo the Baker are delivered fresh daily for those lingering through lunch. On weekends, the shop attracts a different crowd of visitors to the neighborhood, according to Piaskowski. Regardless of whether you're visiting RiNo or work nearby, the patio offers great views of Denver, the mountains and surrounding construction (okay, you can get that view just about anywhere in RiNo). The cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week.