Denver's First Bilingual, Guatemalan-Inspired Coffee Shop Opens November 1

Convivo's grand opening is November 1.
Convivo's grand opening is November 1. Brooke Leigh Photography
When Convivio Cafe launched its crowdfunding campaign last year to raise money for Denver's first bilingual, Guatemalan-inspired coffee shop, it reached its goal within two weeks. That success gave owners Kristen Lacy and Vivi Lemus hope that it would be able to open at 4935 West 38th Avenue come spring. It may have taken a bit longer than that, but the cafe is finally ready to start welcoming guests on Tuesday, November 1 — exactly one year from that launch.

"It’s been a super-long road, but we’re finally doing it," says Lemus. A series of setbacks, including issues with their contractor and unforeseen changes required by the city, delayed construction and continually pushed the opening back from the projected spring to summer, and then fall. After three soft openings in September for friends, neighbors and investors, Convivio received final approval from the city, but decided to wait a few extra days to coincide the opening with the Guatemalan holiday Día de Todos los Santos, or All Saints Day.

"It's like Day of the Dead meets Thanksgiving," explains Lemus, who is from Guatemala. The day is celebrated with a dish called fiambre. "People would go back to their hometowns and visit graves of loved ones that had passed on," Lemus says of the story behind the specialty. "There weren't hotels back then, so they’d find refuge at a Catholic church or monastery. Rumor has it that a monk didn’t have enough of any one thing to serve, so he came up and threw a bunch of ingredients together."
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Fiambre will be served at Convivio's grand opening.
Convivio Cafe
A loose take on a charcuterie board, the dish piles cold cuts and cheeses on top of pickled veggies for a kind of cold salad. According to Lemus, "Every grandma has their own version of the dish that they share with neighbors and community." A blog post on Convivio's website offers more details about fiambre and Lemus's ties to the dish, and attendees of the grand opening can expect a personalized take on the tradition.

Convivio, a Spanish term for a get-together where people gather around a crowded table, share stories and connect over delicious food and drink, is a large part of Latin American culture and community, and something Lemus and Lacy hope to establish from day one with their cafe.

The celebration will kick off with a small ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7 a.m., and guests are invited to bring photos of deceased loved ones to place on the cafe's altar throughout the day. Convivio will be open until 6 p.m. for the occasion.
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The cafe hopes to become a community gathering space.
Brooke Leigh Photography
In addition to fiambre, there will also be samples from the food menu, which includes pastelitos (sweets) and antojitos (savory) options. The Guatemalan-inspired pastries like champurradas, ponche scones and panitos (muffins) in unique flavors like pineapple, ginger, zucchini, beet and espresso pair well with a cafe chocolatado, which is similar to a mocha and is made with chocolate from Cultura. Savory dishes like tostadas topped with black beans or pan con aguacate (avocado toast) go well with the selection of aguas frescas with rotating flavors. Gluten-free options from Off the Grid Bakery are also available.

On November 17, Convivo will host the premiere of Denver-based Needle & Frame's documentary, Stronger than Coffee. Tickets, which are available online for $20, include a screening of the 25-minute long film, a tasting of coffees produced by women in the film and a panel discussion to follow.

Convivio Cafe is located at 4935 West 38th Avenue and will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Monday after November 1. For more information, visit
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Danielle Krolewicz likes a good cup of coffee, a good book and a good deal — not necessarily in that order.

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