Stella’s Gourmet Coffeehaus, 1476 S. Pearl St., a few blocks from the University of Denver, embodies the characteristics of a traditional, locally owned coffee shop. There is no drive-through window and no uniforms, and the employees behind the counter work for long spans of time.
I enter through one of the side doors, which takes me through the multi-room first level. The walls are lined with shelves of used books, available for reading and purchase. Original works by local artists are displayed prominently in each room, holding their own against bright backgrounds of orange, lime green and purple walls.
In one room, students sit at mismatched painted tables with their laptops, using the free Wi-Fi, while in a nearby room a cluster sits in the over-stuffed sofa deep in conversation.
I walk to the counter in the front room and place my order with a guy wearing a little scruff, a vintage T-shirt and worn, faded jeans, and with a willingness to chat with me for a few moments while he takes down my order.
A chalkboard displays the day’s specials, including an Ethiopian blend and some iced drinks, as well as a list of ice creams. Teas are as much of a focus as coffee and the selection of leaves is diverse.
On this warm evening, about three-quarters of the outdoor seating is filled. It’s the perfect perch from which to watch people walking by in this trendy neighborhood. Customers range from college-age students with colored hues striping their hair to a group of policemen chatting easily with the folks at nearby tables.
An overlay protects a portion of the porch from the elements, with oversized umbrellas covering much of the rest. On chilly evenings, heat lamps and fire pits are turned on to warm the area. A large metal dish of community ice water is placed conveniently near the walkway for the numerous dogs that laze near their owners on the porch.
In the short time it takes for the barista to grab my mocha, I skim over posters of local performing artists. There is also a list of dates for live music to be played by local musicians. I don’t recognize the artists listed, but the laid-back selections playing throughout the house convince me they would be worth checking out.
I seek out an empty table on the front porch, where about 15 tables are set up in the bi-level area. For extra seating, tables for two are arranged on either side of the house, offering a more private environment.
I enjoy the evening, losing myself in my environment and the buzz of conversations around me.
If You Go
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.