Ok, I swear this place was designed specifically for the coffee geek looking for the “holy grail”. Happy Coffee opened up back in April 2012 and has served up some serious coffee ever since. They got their start even further back when they opened a bicycle drive thru on Platte and have not looked back.
From the outside, off-Broadway, its unassuming appearance doesn’t give away the journey your about to embark on. A serious minimalist coffee lab vibe is what you’re stepping into here, so bring your palate kids. I love that this place is so clean and simple. Your focus is on the coffee and brewing apparatuses that adorn the counters and shelves. Small community tables align the walls and are well suited for relaxing while enjoying a new experience.
Pleasant staff immediately greeted us as we walked through the door and neared the counter. Offering up suggestions on their current menu and brew techniques took away any would be confusion. Today, the options were a Costa Rican or Ethiopian from Michigan based Madcap roasters. There are no commercial brewers here, just manual pour options one cup at a time. Making coffee like this gives the Barista full control of the extraction ratio, water temp and overall brew time. This allows for all the natural flavor characteristics and nuances to be brought out, just like a Vintner would do for his wine. Happy Coffee also features San Francisco based roasters, Sightglass and Fourbarrel. According to their website, they state they won’t shy away from local purveyors if you can bring it. I say, step up local Roasters.
We opted for a pour-over of the Ethiopian and an Aeropress of the Costa Rican. More on that later. Other brew options available are Chemex and siphon style, which is full immersion brewing at its finest. They’re pulling shots on a beautiful La Marzocco espresso machine, which uses double filtered water. Why do we always mention what type of espresso machine is being used? Just like any job, there are always plenty of tools available. Choosing to use a machine that gives you the most control over what you are trying to do makes sense. If you can dial in the proper temp/pressure for a certain coffee, then you can gaurantee consistency all day. Not all espresso machines are created equal, unfortunately.
As you sit back and take it all in you cannot help but notice a chemistry lab like gadget encased in glass. I can almost hear patrons exclaim, “What the hell is that”? Well, just ask and you will get all the deets needed to make you feel like you picked the right coffee experience today. Standing erect, are four hour glass shaped brewers that are used for cold brewing coffee. It’s a slow drip, full immersion, cold water system that can take up to 18 hours before finished. The results are a concentrated extract (yes, more caffeine) that can be cut with water or milk for a great summertime drink. Try this method and the next time someone tries to serve you hot brewed coffee dumped over ice, run. This Toddy system was designed by a Japanese company, Hario. They make lots of other cool coffee gadgets that will help take you to that next level in brewing.
Coffees sampled today;
V60 Pour-Over: Madcap Ethiopian
Thoughts: Like most Ethiopians, this had a nice acidity to it with a perfect sweetness. You will definitely pick up the citrus notes as you make way to the bottom. This was a great clean cup that surely started with a good roast and a well-executed brew. Happy.
Aeropress: Madcap Costa Rican
Thoughts: The aroma was rich and fruity, very pleasant. My initial thought was blueberries which I never tasted in a Central American coffee before. The finish on this cup was complex, with chocolate and nuttiness making a welcomed appearance. I thoroghly enjoyed this cup and will definitely look for it again.
* This place is a Denver gem worth seeking out. Stop by and don’t be shy about trying new coffees brewed in ways you’re not familiar with. I can almost bet you will not be disappointed. Bank on your coffee experience being taken to the next level here.