Students at Front Range Community College’s Westminster campus pass the Coffee Den everyday on their ways to classes without a second glance. In just over a year, the Coffee Den has become part of the campus’ internal structure, and although students use its seating area as a comfortable study spot, they continue to purchase their coffee at large corporations. Instead, students should satiate their caffeine cravings at the Coffee Den, which boasts locally sourced ingredients, low prices, friendly staff, a flexible menu, and delicious drinks.
Coffee Kiosk Manager, Abbey Ellis, is the brain behind the Coffee Den’s diverse menu. After managing a Starbucks store for three years, Ellis used her acquired knowledge to transform the Coffee Den’s prices, menu, and training programs. “I created all of the menu items myself; I came up with all of the names and all of the recipes,” Ellis said.
In fact, the Coffee Den offers more drink options than Starbucks, including a permanent specialty menu. “They have one special for a limited time,” said Ellis. “We have a specialty board around all of the time.” These include snickerdoodle, s’mores and mocha coconut flavors, to name a few.
When Ellis took over for the previous manager last February, she reformed menu prices to better cooperate with college students’ budgets. Known coffee corporations charge more than five dollars for large specialty drinks, but the Coffee Den’s most expensive specialty drink costs a mere four dollars and 72 cents.
Moreover, the Coffee Den offers soy milk as a milk substitute for no additional charge. In Ellis’ words, “I don’t believe people with lactose intolerance should be punished.”
The Coffee Den also caters to a wide variety of allergies, diets, and unique taste buds. Ellis often bakes gluten free deserts herself to accommodate students with intolerances. In addition to the free soy milk, the Coffee Den also offers almond milk, but it does cost a few cents extra.
Students without allergies can also modify drinks to fulfill their cravings. “We have super helpful employees. If you want to make something new, they can do it,” Ellis said.
Not only do the profits from the Coffee Den benefit Front Range Community College, but they indirectly help the community. The Coffee Den uses locally sourced, organic, fair trade ingredients from Luna Roasters, a Boulder Organic company.
The Coffee Den is a more convenient, more accommodating, cheaper, local version of Starbucks where students can grab drinks in between classes or savor sweet treats while studying.
Written by Kayla Klein
Photo by Kayla Klein