A new coffee shop called Joe Maxx Coffee Co. is set to open on Friday, September 22, in the Art District on Santa Fe, with a goal of providing a welcoming space for all in the neighborhood.
Owners Nicholas Caparso and Lahna Saccone met in 2015 during a "life stopover” in Las Vegas, as Saccone describes it. At the time, Saccone was a corporate event planner and Caparso was an accountant, and both were there trying to figure out what they wanted to do next. Originally from Ohio and Los Angeles, respectively, the two knew they didn’t want to stay in Vegas. Caparso’s father, who is co-owner of Joe Maxx Coffee Company, approached themabout expanding the brand to Denver, and the couple jumped at the chance. “We were ready to try something new that used more of our natural creative abilities,” says Caparso.
So a year and a half ago, the couple — who recently became engaged — started making regular trips to Denver to find the perfect spot to open a coffee shop. They finally found one at 869 Santa Fe Drive a year ago and have been living in Denver ever since.
Currently, there are five Joe Maxx locations — two in Ohio and one each in Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada, which will make Denver the sixth. The family-owned and -operated coffee company is not a franchise, allowing Saccone and Caparso the artistic freedom to decide on everything — from interior design and seating to lighting and the menu. Aside from the Joe Maxx branded specialty drinks and signature blends roasted in Cleveland, the food and drinks are all selected with Denverites in mind and will boast an all-vegetarian menu with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The owners don’t intend to step on any toes of existing businesses in the area, but they want to give neighbors options for the entire month, not just First Fridays.
When it came to the interior design, it was important to Saccone and Caparsoto to create a space that would be inviting for everyone — people who want a quick coffee on their way to work, or people who want to hang out for hours. “There has been a decline in the coffee shop scene,” says Caparso, who remembers growing up in the 1990s, “when coffee shops were equivalent to a bar.”
The owners' goal is to create a unique space that values ambience, lighting and coziness for customers, and that’s also creative and cool to look at. “I care about those little details,” says Saccone, and her attention to detail shines through, from carefully planned music playlists to lighting coordinated for every time of day. The interior paint and furniture will all tie into a late-’60s and early-’70s psychedelic vibe and includes a refurbished record cabinet.
Caparso is a musician who plays anything with keys, as well as the bass, sitar and guitar. Saccone, whose dad was a comedian, has a background in production. The couple plans to incorporate both backgrounds at the new location of Joe Maxx by hosting performers of all kinds.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
They hope some of those performers will be from nearby Youth on Record, which Joe Maxx plans to host for a monthly showcase. “Rather than jumping in and diverting the flow that is already going on in a very old neighborhood with a lot of families, [we want to] jump into the flow...and offer our own flavor of something to do, while completely collaborating with the culture and vibe that is already strong in this neighborhood,” explains Saccone. In addition to participating in an art rotation curated by the Art District on Santa Fe, they will also display national artists and affordably priced art pieces for purchase.
A mural and several other pieces created by Saccone’s friend Erika Deoudes will be part of Joe Maxx's permanent decor. The enclosed private patio in the back of the building will hold a sixteen-foot-long veggie- and fruit-themed mural painted by Deoudes.
“Everything was chosen deliberately,” said Caparso. “As an artist, my goal is always to be first and foremost pleasant to people’s ears, and secondly, unique — as unique as you can possibly be — because there’s no flaw in that as long as you’re doing it for a creative purpose. I think we have tried to do that on every step of this place.”