Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Beverage Cafe opened on Platte Street this morning, in the former home of longtime cool-kid hangout Paris on the Platte, which closed early this year. While Habit features bright colors and bold street art in a space that falls somewhere between a convenience store and pot shop, Carbon captures the spirit of the former coffeehouse while bringing coffee and booze service into a new era.
Both spaces are the work of owner Lisa Ruskaup, whose other design and concept efforts include the Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery and the recently shuttered Session Kitchen (in fact, a few artifacts from Session can be found inside Habit and Carbon). The doughnut shop and cafe both also feature hip-hop and pop-culture references on the menus, graffiti old and new, and clever touches that might confuse the uninitiated but in the long run offer customizable mix-and-match options that will appeal to lovers of the novel as well as those seeking chef-driven quality.
Habit may be a riot of sensory input upon entry, with a convenience-store wall of fruit-stripe gum, mini-antiperspirants, condoms, energy drinks and tobacco products, but the doughnuts aren't standard supermarket fare, nor are they simple raised doughnuts topped with store-bought cereals. Instead, they're the result of a year of tinkering by pastry chef Jessica Desormeaux, previously of Barolo Grill and the Columbine Country Club. The doughnuts are made from brioche dough; Desormeaux's version is rich and buttery but contains no sugar. Sweetness comes from fillings and glazes like matcha green-tea glaze, blueberry bourbon jam, and a clove-infused syrup meant to pay tribute to the many clove cigarettes smoked at Paris on the Platte over the decades.
Whether you buy a single doughnut or a full dozen, a free cup of drip coffee — a blend by Richesse in Fort Collins — comes with your purchase. Doughnuts range from $2 to $5 each; a dozen of the "blazed" doughnuts — glazed and then torched — runs $20. You can also mix it up with the "dispensary dozen" for $30, which will get you any six doughnuts plus any six items from the bodega wall. So whether you're out for a late-night booty call or an early-morning walk of shame, you can pick up six to go with your disposable toothbrush, pack of gum, cigarette lighter or Visine.
Although attached by the kitchen in the back, Carbon has a separate entrance and cashier. The atmosphere is a little more sedate, with dark-wood finishes, polished chrome taps and the same exposed brick as Paris on the Platte. The concept is not much different than at any other cafe — a menu board of sandwiches and bowls, a drinks list and a few grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items — but the possibilities may halt first-timers in their tracks. Whether you want a simple espresso or cortado, a flavored cappuccino or a craft cocktail, the menu board is divided into drink categories and sizes. Any coffee drink of a given size is the same price — and the same goes for all cocktails, beers and wines.
The food menu brims with pop-culture name drops, like the Lil' Kim — a Korean barbecue pork sandwich built on a savory togarashi doughnut with house kimchi — or the King, an Elvis-inspired doughnut sandwich with peanut butter, grilled banana and Tender Belly bacon. There's also pizza in a cup (or is it a Cup 'o Pizza?), taken from Steve Martin's The Jerk, and a "'60s TV dinner" with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. Smaller bites include "best food ever" brioche bites and Wu Tang tots (potato or doughnut bites in a variety of flavors with several dipping sauces — called "hits" on the menu — like green goddess, blueberry bourbon, shaolin BBQ or an off-menu DMZ glaze).
Executive chef Scott Parker, late of Session Kitchen, oversees the entire kitchen for both concepts, and culinary manager TJ Bresina handles the food side of things at Carbon. Drinks are the work of beverage manager Kyle Duce, whose goal is to provide quality cocktails without the fuss or wait as well as customizable experiences for those willing to stray from standard formulas in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options (cold-brew coffee with lemon verbena syrup and tonic water to your liking?).
Taps are grouped in threes and include three beers, three house wines (plus a blended sangria), one cider, several batched cocktails and Happy Leaf kombucha. A Modbar coffee system hides beneath the counter, with only sleek taps above the counter where baristas can whip up cortados, macchiatos, lattes and other espresso-based drinks.
The space at Carbon includes pieces of Paris on the Platte history. A wall that was once covered in customer graffiti has been cut into framed panels, and the carriage-house doors are now mounted on the north wall of the lounge. A raised back room that can be reserved for meetings and large groups features community tables made from doors salvaged from the Union Station renovation.
Habit and Carbon both open at 6 a.m. daily; closing hours have yet to be determined, but expect later rather than earlier. For more photos of the food and interior at both locations,see our complete slideshow.