Caffeine junkies near the University of Denver are familiar with the name Kaladi; owners Mark Overly and Andy Melnick have been roasting beans and brewing coffee since 2000 at Kaladi Coffee Roasters
at 1730 East Evans Avenue. Around town, a handful of cafes and restaurants also sell the company's coffee. But the city will soon see more Kaladi coffee, since Overly and Melnick just fired up a brand-new roasting facility at 2823 South Broadway in Englewood, where they'll soon open their second coffee bar.
Overly explains that the new location was once a hot-tub dealership and most recently was an illegal cannabis grow operation that got shut down by the city. He jokes that he has a love-hate relationship with pot growers because of the difficulty that he and Melnick encountered while searching for a suitable building for the roastery. "Just when we started looking for a new location, the grow industry snatched up every available building," he says. "But because of one illegal grower, we were able to buy this one."
While the building's exterior didn't show much promise, the location and interior space — more than 5,000 square feet on one of the city's busiest thoroughfares — were just right. "True to Kaladi form, we bought the ugliest building on Broadway," Overly notes.
The transformation turned the ugly duckling of a building into a modern facility with big front windows and a rust-toned wooden facade. The roasting machines were moved from East Evans location and the first batches were fired up this morning. And the new coffee bar, which will offer a menu similar to that at the original with slightly more space for guests to enjoy the items, will open to the public on November 14.
Overly started his coffee company as Kaladi Brothers in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1986, but sold that location and moved to Denver in 1999. He notes that the technology he uses to roast beans makes his product unique: Kaladi employs a Sivetz Fluid-Bed roaster, which suspends the beans in a blast of hot air, roasting them evenly without the coffee ever coming into contact with hot metal surfaces. The process still generates the aroma of fresh-roasted coffee, but Overly spent an additional $50,000 on an afterburner so that the smell is not detectable outside of the building (one of the requirements the City of Englewood handed down before Kaladi could open as a light-industrial business on Broadway).
The expansion to a bigger building means that Kaladi will be able to sell its beans wholesale to more cafes and restaurants, but Overly says he has no plans to sell to grocery stores or other big outlets; he wants his product to remain a coffeehouse specialty.