There are roughly 22,000 coffee shops in the US. Little Owl, downtown’s hidden coffee shop is in the top 21 of those according to the Thrillist in their latest Best Coffee Shops in America list. Denver’s Little Owl is perfection.
Little Owl has all the characteristics that other coffee shops aspire to have. The clean trendy vibe feel other shops strive for, Little Owl hits perfectly. I felt like I had to wipe off my shoes before walking in because it’s so clean. Everything is white, marble and glass. The floor is hardwood and walls marble, front wall glass facing Blake St. The counter is porcelain white and without a spot on it. So clean and intimate.
What sets Little Owl apart from the rest?
- The Location. Block and a half away from Union Station, right next to 16th St.
- Blends in. There is no signage outside or any indication there is a coffee shop there. It’s a nice little hidden spot.
- They have the overall clean, classy vibe that other coffee shops try to master.
- Almond Milk made there
The Decorations are simple and fit well with their trendy vibe. There were fresh flowers in vases around the long tables and different plants set with mini glasses of sugar in the raw with a small spoon inside. There was a frame of the filled with a picture of the world set above the table. This was about the only wall art. Keeping it simple.
This petite spot is in the HEART of downtown. Located just steps away from 16th street, a block away from Union Station and directly on Blake St. Easy to find but as long as you know where it is. There is no signage out front aside from the Coffee handwritten sign leaning on a bush in front. The glass door has a small sign with an owl and the words, Little Owl. I feel as though the people who walk in either live in the upscale apartments next door or have been recommended to go there.
Out of town’ers or people with large groups are probably more likely to hit the Starbucks across the street.
Be aware, Little Owl is small. The intimate seating style is limited both indoor and outdoor. The inside has bar style seating in an L shape seating, middle bar facing the baristas. Outside has 4 tables that seat 2. The outdoor seating is adorable. There is a nice fence of hedges separating the sidewalk from the tables. The outdoor area has a really nice ambiance and perfect place for a little 1-on-1 meeting. However, don’t be surprised if all the seating options are unavailable when you get there.
The first time I went to Little Owl, the tables were filled with people dressed up and conducting interviews. Every person that walked in looked extra important. I was first recommended to Little Owl by fellow Hoosier, Daniel Brogan, CEO/President of 5280 Denver’s Magazine in an informational interview. If the person who STARTED a magazine revolved around things to do and everything Denver/Colorado recommends a coffee shop, you can only have high expectations. That is exactly what I had and Little Owl only prevailed.
TIP: You never know who you will run into here. Try not to go hungover wearing sweats. It’s a professional setting in the downtown district but afterall, it is just coffee. I’m sure no one will hold it against you but… you never know.
Confession: Second time arriving at Little Owl, I was SOAKED, rain water dripping off my hair and face. Learned not to attempt to be a hero and bike downtown during a downpour. The barista is a biker himself, of course, so he understood all too well.
Little Owl coffee in a nutshell: farm-to-cup coffee served through manual brew methods with a craft espresso option.
Their coffee is from Sweet Bloom and Commonwealth both local roasters. Sweet Bloom coffee was just used by Kapo Chiu from Hong Kong, the runner-up in the World Barista Championship that took place in June. So.. their coffee is top-notch, that is for sure.
The first time I went to Little Owl, I got my usual Almond Milk Vanilla Latte. My second time around, I order my not-so-usual Mocha Almond MIlk Latte. Both were amazing!! Their almond milk is made right there house. Along with their vanilla syrup. The mocha is made from a fancy little chocolate company that I can’t remember the name of. Their chocolate bars are posted up near the iPad register. The coffee is made in ways that I don’t even understand. It seems as though they have their coffee science down. I’m no coffee expert but I can tell that is does not taste like any other coffee made in the area. Maybe the closest is St. Mark’s café. It is coffee done right. I can’t put my finger on what it is that is different but maybe that is just not American coffee. So… maybe let’s say it’s the most authentic cup of coffee Denver offers?
Their latte coffee art is on point. Each latte is served in a glass cup. Everything about their coffee service is fancy. Upon ordering coffee, you are asked if you would like a glass of water. Ice or no ice. They bring your coffee out to you most of the time too. It was so great! Fine dining of coffee shop service. 5 diamond status.
Know what you want when you walk in there. There isn’t exactly a menu posted but instead a sign of what coffee they have brewing up. Majority of people ordered an Almond Milk Vanilla Latte, Americanos, or Double Shot espresso. Their syrup options are Mocha and Vanilla made with sugar from the raw. The black coffee tastes incredible as well.
The food options are limited. However, what they do have is well worth it! I overheard that their custom italian pastry chef/neighbor Lon Symensma suspended their pastries from Gather. I’m not sure why but at this time I do not think they are getting pastries in. However, they do have what looks like bomb fritatas. There is also Noosa in the fridge to buy as well so there are breakfast options but the are limited. If you want a little snack to satisfy your sweet tooth, they have almond butter packs, similar to Justin’s. I am not above it, I snack on these ‘peanut butter but better and natural’ type things on the reg!
The music was so classy. It fit so perfectly with their vibe. My first visit had Stand By Me playing and Georgia… classic feel good coffee shop music. The second trip, they had mindless upbeat instrumental music playing. The whole shop has an upbeat vibe to it.
The service was perfect. You know how all Starbucks employees are upbeat, talk to you, personalize the experience.. blah blah blah?The baristas especially the male barista is exactly who they try to make all the workers like. He is one of the best baristas I have come into contact with in a long time. He is what people try to train their employees to be like. He just has it. Everything from great service, dresses better than anyone I know, makes amazing coffee and just plays it cool. There was a ridiculously long line every 15 minutes and no one changed their pace. They are efficient and just know what to do. They are professionals.
There is WiFi so ask what the password is while you are ordering.