For two years, Girls Incorporated of Metro Denver ran a coffee cart called Bold Beans in the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez branch library on West Colfax Avenue. But Bold Beans has gone beyond the cart and is now located in a bigger space inside Steam on the Platte, at 1401 Zuni Street. Girls Inc., a national organization, was founded in 1865 with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold — hence the coffee company's name.
JJ Dearmore, director of social enterprise for Girls Inc., is putting his many years of coffee experience to good use by providing guidance to the teen employees at the shop. "Our primary goal is to give girls paid jobs and first-job experiences, and to enhance that experience by layering in more about the business — more than just working in coffee shop and customer service, but learning about profit and loss, inventory management, how expenses affect pricing and that sort of thing," says Dearmore, who most recently managed the DU Starbucks before joining the nonprofit world.
The move allowed Bold Beans to expand its operation in a variety of ways. Before, there was no room for an ice machine, and a third-party contractor washed the dishes every day. Now, Bold Beans is living large, with enough room for a panini press and a blender for frozen beverages. The cafe also added breakfast, lunch and catering options through Share Good Foods. In total, ten girls are employed: seven currently involved in programming and Girls Inc., and three college-aged graduates of the program.
Built in 1918, Steam was once a soap factory and a rag-baling facility, when the area along the South Platte was home to a thriving textile industry. The building sat vacant until 2016, when Urban Ventures took over and renovated it. "The name 'Steam on the Platte' aligned with our vision of blending industry and nature, creating new vibrancy while respecting the rich history, and serving as a catalyst to bring renewed energy into an abandoned property ripe for revitalization," says Mariel Beaudoin, development associate at Urban Ventures. Now at 46 percent capacity, Steam also holds offices for Lyft, Luckyleo Dancewear and several other businesses. Remnants of its former life are on display, including bottles discovered during construction and a baler that was too big to move.
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Currently Bold Beans is one of few food and beverage options in the neighborhood, but southern expansion along the Platte is rapidly changing that. Sun Valley is already home to Mile High Stadium, and plans are in the works to build a Denver outpost of Meow Wolf, Raices Brewery, and a redevelopment project of a parking lot into an arts and entertainment center, with residential housing to follow.
Easy access to the Platte River Trail allows for bikers and other outdoor lovers who also happen to be coffee lovers to get a quick cup of coffee, and provides a peaceful, tranquil spot to enjoy it — for now. We suggest going before construction on all the aforementioned places begins. If you don't ride your bike, there is limited street parking available.
The Girls Inc. girls sling coffee, sourced from Coda, during Steam's hours, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.