“Denver coffee is some of best in the U.S. right now,” says Hannah Ulbrich, owner of Copper Door Coffee Roasters, which opened in late January in Lowry. “We have an amazing number of coffee companies pushing each other to do great things. We all share our knowledge; a collaborative group of business owners raises the bar.”
Ulbrich, an East Montclair resident and mother of two children, got into the coffee business in 2013 after teaching literature for 10 years. “I worked as a barista in college, while earning my master’s in education. Now I bring my teaching experience into the business by sharing what I know about specialty coffee.”
The Lowry shop, in Hangar 2 across from the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, joins Ulbrich’s first location in The Yard development at W. 1st Ave. and Santa Fe, opened last fall. The coffee sold at both shops is roasted at the Santa Fe location.
Copper Door Coffee Roasters is Denver’s only 100% woman-owned coffee roasting company, says Ulbrich. “I know many amazing female roasters from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago through an organization called She’s the Roaster. We send each other samples for opinions. The best advice I got was to make mistakes, because that’s how you learn. I burned a lot of coffee and threw out a lot. Good coffee roasting uses the senses: you learn to smell it, hear it and see it change colors.”
Ulbrich is the advisory chair of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance, a head judge for the Specialty Coffee Association’s Roasting Competition, and a certified coffee taster.
“Specialty coffee has earned a score of 80 or higher out of 100. It’s graded by a professional ‘Q grader,’ like an advanced sommelier, on-site at the farm before being exported,” said Ulbrich. “The set criteria include no mold, insect damage or rocks in the bag of beans. Whereas Folgers and 7-11 coffee are non-specialty coffees—that’s why they are cheaper.”
Copper Door carries 10-12 single-origin coffees at one time, as well as custom blends. “When we need to bring in a coffee, like a citrus-y or a floral, we isolate regions to get them and request samples. Then we roast, cup and decide.”
Ulbrich uses 100% wind power to run the shops and the roasting. “We subscribe to a windfarm in Fort Collins. I have 8- and 10-year-old kids and I’d like the world to be a better place for them. We use lots of electricity so it’s nice to have it sourced in an ethical way.”
In addition to serving coffees in the stores, Copper Door also sells whole beans to restaurants and customers. A subscription service delivers coffee to customers nationwide. Classes offered at The Yard location teach about the fundamentals of roasting and cupping, a specific way to brew and taste coffee.
Copper Door Coffee Roasters, copperdoorcoffee.com, is at 7581 E. Academy Blvd., 720.432.1891.