The building at 95 Lincoln Street (at the corner of First Avenue and Lincoln), which held a tea shop called Platform T until it closed last December, is now home to the second location of Spur Coffee. Tandi Venter and her husband, Marcel, took over the space (which was once the Colorado Science Company) and launched Spur in August, after opening their first coffee shop in downtown Littleton in 2012.
The Venters moved to Denver seventeen years ago from South Africa in pursuit of adventure. "I always wanted to live in America, and I had family here," says Tandi. "I call this is our American safari." However, the name Spur is not a cowboy reference; it's based on the relationship they have with their clients — spurring on ideas — as well as a nod to doing things in the spur of the moment.
The couple established their interior and graphic design business, also named Spur, in downtown Littleton in 2011. The space eventually transformed into a co-working space with an espresso machine for members, but, Tandi recalls, "People walking by were so excited to think it was a coffee shop" that the idea grew and Spur Coffee evolved from there, becoming a full-fledged coffee shop five years ago.
The couple also started roasting their own coffee at Spur last year, when an opportunity arose to purchase a roaster from another coffee professional leaving the state. "It was always part of our plan: If we are going to grow our brand, we need to roast our own coffee," Tandi explains. The couple's son, Tyler, runs the roaster, which is located in the Clayton neighborhood.
"I've always been passionate about hospitality and food," Tandi adds. "My whole family is into food and entertaining, caring and loving on people." Her passion has led her to create a menu of thoughtful food, inspired largely by her South African roots, like sardine toast and soft-boiled eggs — complete with instructions, in case you don't know how to eat it. "Never assume people know how to eat a soft-boil egg," she says. "We learned — after seeing people trying to peel the egg and having egg yolk all over their arm — to ask, 'Do you know how to navigate this thing?'" For many people, the answer was no, which led Spur to create an instructional video.
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The rest of the full menu debuted this week as part of Spur's grand-opening celebration. Food is made in-house with local produce when possible; pastries are slightly but not overly sweet, and many happen to be gluten-free, soy-free and vegan. "I eat everything," says Tandi. "I'm not partial to one way or another, but if we can make food that includes everybody, I'm all about that." Beverages also contain locally sourced ingredients, some of which come from right out their front door, like the rosemary used in their new fall latte, "Swen."
"We see this as our testing ground, our playground, our lab," says Tandi. "We get to see what the customers want [and] don't want, and meet the community. We want to put our roots down in communities where people feel like this is [their] home away from home."
This mindset led them to limit access to outlets in an attempt to keep "laptoppers" from monopolizing the prime seating, where Tandi hopes to see people meeting people instead. And if it gets busy, she says she has no problem asking people to meet their neighbor and share a table.
Although Spur doesn't have a liquor license yet, Tandi says it's in the works, as is a wholesale license to expand the Spur brand beyond the two cafes. For now they've got kombucha and cold brew on tap, and won't let a lack of booze get in the way of a good party. A week of celebrations kicked off this Monday, with daily pop-ups from local businesses, giveaways including coffee and treats, the debut of the full food menu, and daily happy hour from 1 to 6 p.m., with 15 percent off espresso drinks. The week culminates on Saturday with a groovy ’70s disco costume party from 8 to 11 p.m., and prizes for best-dressed and the first fifty people in the door. Normal business hours resume Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily — but the disco ball will stay.