If you thought coziness was a subjective, indefinable quality … well, you’re right, but that’s not going to stop us from trying to measure it. We’re visiting Denver coffee shops, cafes and tea houses neighborhood by neighborhood to do it.
We’ll award points on a scale of one to 10 in several categories: Temperature, comfortable seating, decor, music and menu. Shops can earn bonus points for things like having a working fireplace.
To be as fair as possible about the temperature, your intrepid reporter will wear the same thing to every spot: a flannel over a t-shirt with a skirt and knee socks. And in our score, temperature is graded based on comfort, not hot or cold.
Because there are so many coffee shops and such, we’ll tackle them neighborhood by neighborhood.
For no particular reason other than this reporter’s proximity to the neighborhood, we begin our highly scientific measurement of coziness in City Park West.
St. Mark’s Coffeehouse
2019 E. 17th Ave.
What St. Mark’s loses from a lack of soft seats, it more than makes up for in its eclectic and homey decor, a warm and diverse music selection, a solid selection of drinks, delicious pastries and a friendly but not fake-friendly staff. And if your idea of cozy is bundling up for a crisp fall day on a patio, you’re in luck: St. Mark’s has two.
Comfy seats: 0
Bonus: 1 point for beer
Total score: 38
The Weathervane Café
1725 E. 17th Ave.
Not just the coziest coffee shop in City Park West — no small distinction with stiff competition from St. Mark’s — but I’m ready to call Weathervane Café among the coziest in the city. Right off the bat.
Weathervane is a tight two-stories of unfinished wood, old-but-clean couches, earth tones, thrift-shop art, lace curtains and stumps for side tables. On my official visit, they were playing Solange’s “A Seat at the Table.” There are bells and a Woody Guthrie quote on the front door. They’re selling you hard before you even order from the well-rounded breakfast and lunch menu.
Even the chairs are cushioned. The couches come with pretty vintage TV trays. There are sketched portraits of children who are probably now elderly. There’s a crate of old vinyl and plants everywhere. Honestly, I just want to move in.
The one fault: It might actually be too warm.
Comfy seats: 10
Total score: 49
1201 E. Colfax Ave.
Caffe Sanora’s strength is its people. The owner, Dave, is pretty much always behind the bar, chatting with everyone who comes in. And because he’s talking to everyone at once, the customers all start chatting with each other, too.
The shop has a tasty, standard selection of food and drinks, including beer and mimosas, tons of sunlight, a large selection of board games and reliably good classic rock on the stereo. It’s got a big, old leather couch and two cushy corner seats, and all the bar stools and regular chairs have padded seats. It’s not the most beautifully decorated coffee shop in the neighborhood, but your butt won’t get tired of sitting there.
Comfy seats: 9
Bonus: 1 for beer and mimosas, 1 for board games and 2 for always-there ownership and “everybody knows your name” vibe
Total score: 44
Denver Bicycle Café
1308 E. 17th Ave.
Denver Bicycle Café’s unexpected strength is its bike shop. You’d think there’d be nothing cozy about that, but it has a helpful, down-to-earth appeal. There’s just one sort-of cushy chair and the coziness of the community tables is debatable — cozy if you’re settling in with a group, less cozy if you’re uncomfortable sitting on a bench. On my official visit, they were playing indie pop at a low volume, which is within the realm of the usual for them. It was a comfortable temperature, but maybe slightly on the cool side. I would have been cold without my flannel.
Comfy seats: 1
Bonus: 1 point for wine and beer, 1 point for bike shop
Total score: 32
The Corner Coffee Bakery
1245 E. Colfax Ave., #105
The Corner Coffee Bakery also has some especially friendly people behind the counter, ready with a big smile and, possibly, a free bite of croissant.
It’s not the most homey coffee shop — its look is closer to a Peet’s than your grandma’s kitchen — but it’s comfortable enough in temperature and seating, and the soft rock on the speakers is hardly offensive.
Comfy seats: 2
Bonus: 1 for super friendly service, 1 for the possibility of free croissant bites
Total score: 28