Cafe Society

Does Novo Have the Best Beans?

Keen readers may have noticed we didn't give an award for Best Coffee Shop in this year’s Best of Denver issue. There’s a reason. Coffee shop awards are the third rail of best-of editions. Most people rabidly adore their favorite java joint with the same passion usually reserved for a first-born child, and so when their café doesn’t win Best of Denver, threats usually follow of lynching and/or castration directed towards the numskulls responsible for the oversight. (For the same reason, Westword doesn't give a Best Mexican Restaurant award -- we divide that category into many Mexican awards, because there are so many Mexican restaurants we love.)

But while the Best of Denver 2008 stayed away from the controversial subject of coffee, Forbes did not. With the help of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, it recently compiled a list of “America’s Best Boutique Coffees,” and in Denver the honor went to Novo Coffee, a local roaster that also operates coffee shops in Arvada and the Denver Art Museum. From Ninth Street Espresso in New York City to the LA Mill on the opposite coast, that puts the family-owned Novo in rarified company.

Of course, many over-caffeinated folks surely disagree with this choice. While Novo’s flavorful and nuanced single-origin beans, brewed in their high-tech Clover machines, have earned it many fans, others prefer Aviano Coffee at 955 Lincoln Street, which serves top-of-the-line Intelligentsia beans, or the eclectic charm of Kaladi Brothers Coffee at 1730 East Evans Avenue. And then there are the eccentric East Coast expats who refuse to drink any cuppa Joe that isn’t stamped with the ubiquitous orange-and-magenta logo of Dunkin’ Donuts, even though out here that usually means they have to buy their beans at Target.

So which café do you call home? Which bean blesses your best-of list. Feel free to contribute below – just be ready for some hearty disagreement. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner