I’ve been hanging out in a lot of coffee shops. They are warm, they have (mostly) free WiFi, they smell good. I’m a more productive writer of blog posts and grader of student papers while in coffee shops. There is no TV to distract me and I can’t take a nap. Here are some of my favorites:

Common Grounds in West Highland

You know how most coffee shops have one big room full of people clustered around outlets on their tablets and Apple computers? Common Grounds has five little rooms full of people (and full of outlets) on their tablets and laptops. The front of the coffee shop has two big rooms with huge windows looking out over the cuteness that is Denver’s West 32nd Ave. There’s a piano, tons of plants, and oddly sized tables strewed around these two front rooms. Some tables are dining room sized, perfect for study groups and writers meetings. Some tables are tiny, leaving just enough room for you and your laptop. The three back rooms are divided with partial walls and bookshelves. Magazines, board games, and used books are available if you plan on hanging out here. While it is usually crowded, I’ve always been able to secure myself a little table and an outlet, even on weekends.

In the middle of the shop is the bar when you can get your baked goods, tea, coffee, breakfast burritos, ice cream, and sandwiches. The coffee is pretty good, sometimes served in huge mugs with cute foam designs. When I came with my camera, I of course got a boring disposable cup. The food is okay. I’ve had a sandwich here which was pretty basic and not worth the money. Stick to coffee. Make sure to get a receipt when you order because the WiFi code is printed on the bottom.

Common Groups is open daily from 6:30am until 11pm daily. It is located west of Denver at 32nd and Lowell. There is also a location in LoDo on the corner of 17th and Wazee.

The Tattered Cover Bookstore Café

This has quickly become my favorite place in Denver. Not just the café, but the two story bookstore that it is housed in. This local bookstore has a HUGE magazine selection, book inventory to rival any Barnes and Nobel, plenty of used books, and tons of cozy seating throughout the store. They have a great Children’s and YA section downstairs, which is nice because kids can run around downstairs without disturbing the quiet book-store atmosphere throughout the rest of the store. Check their website for frequent author signings and special events.

The actual coffee shop consists of the order counter and a long line of bar seating. But then there are additional tables spilling out into the bookstore. WiFi is usually available here, but when I was there last week it was down for security issues…so no promises on that. Outlets and free tables can be a bit challenging to get access to on weekends and evenings.

The Tattered Cover is open Monday – Saturday from 9am until 9pm. They close at 6 on Sundays. There is a free parking garage attached to the bookstore. There are also Tattered Cover locations in LoDo and the West Highlands.

St. Mark’s Coffeehouse and Brewery

Not my favorite for ambiance, but definitely the best food. Their sandwiches are served on crusty slices of bread which are just delicious. Coffee is good too. St. Mark’s is essentially one long room, and they sure pack people in here. Be prepared to share a long table with several other laptops if you can’t get a little table. Most people here are working (or studiously checking facebook), but there are some friends and couples just hanging out.

St. Mark’s has a nice outdoor patio space, where you can check out the huge lamps hanging from the trees that line the sidewalk here. There are several shops and restaurants in the few blocks surrounding St. Marks, so the people watching is pretty good. The coffeehouse is open daily from 6:45 to midnight. Check out their infuriatingly intricate website here for entirely too much information about their “history,” film series, art gallery, and other such things.  

Paris on the Platte

One of the more famous places in Denver to get a cup of coffee, I am actually posting this review on site. Paris is not overlooking the Platte River as I’d hoped. It is on Platte Street. That’s okay too. This is the northern edge of the revitalized LoDo, so there are a few shops and other restaurants around. However, Paris is not really in the middle of things. Even though they claim to have been at the forefront of the revitalization, they are currently on the outskirts of all the action. This is actually handy for parking. I easily found a spot and….completely forgot to pay. (I just ran outside, paid, and now I’m back. I am so in love with Denver’s 50 cent per hour rates, by the way.)

Paris on the Platte is more restaurant than coffee shop. You sit down, they bring you a menu, etc. This is exciting though, because there are cheese plates on the menu!! For ten dollars J Besides the cheese, and the beret on the head of the guy who told me to sit down, not much here is French. They are currently playing Irish music. Soups, sandwiches, and pizza round out the menu. I went with the bacon-chicken-avocado sandwich and was thrilled to learn that I could get it on focaccia with a side of fruit. I haven’t had strawberries in months. The sandwich was tasty. The bread wasn’t quite as good as St. Mark’s, but the overall sandwich was better.

This place is half people-working-on-laptops, half people-hanging-out. There are only about 13 tables, less than half of them near an outlet. It’s pretty quiet today (a weeknight), but I hear things get much more crowded on the weekends. I won’t be returning then in hopes of securing a space to work.

Paris on the Platte is between 15th and 16th on (remember?) Platte St. It is open daily at 8:00am. They don’t close until one in the morning on weeknights, and stay open until 2am on Saturdays and Sundays. However, the kitchen has recently decided to close early – ten on weeknights and eleven on weekends.