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The Two Best Cafes in Boulder, Colorado

Updated on March 7, 2014

The two best cafes in one of the best towns of America

First off, I'm just going to say it.

In the day, go to The Cup.

At night, head to the Laughing Goat.

Ok, now that I've got that out of the way, let me explain why these two places are the best spots for grabbing your buzz in one of the best towns in the U.S. of A.

Mocha bliss
Mocha bliss
5 stars from 2 ratings of The Cup cafe

THE place to get your morning buzz

If you're tired and need your morning pick-me-up before work, or halfway through your run, or just starting the bike ride with the local club, then The Cup is the place to go.

As with all the local cafes in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, The Cup sources their beans from free trade coffee farms. They have three types of espresso, one of which is the decaf version, and one that is a bit stronger than the other.

Their drip coffee is great. Guatemala blend, Bolivia Yungas, Peru Central Amazon... they all taste wonderful. Refills are only .50 cents each, whether you have a small or a large cup, and best of all you don't have to wait in line to get a refill. Just walk up to the coffee bar and pour it yourself

If you're someone like me who spends half the day studying or working on your own start-up company, then you may appreciate their Sanitas decaf blend. You know, so you don't develop shaky hands and a hard crash later.

They also have a very wide variety of hot teas... really the best selection out of any cafe in town. My favorites vary everyday, but I enjoy their Earl Grey, and the Japan Cherry Blossom. The only other place that can really compete is Ku Cha's House of Tea, and well.. that's strictly a tea house.

But you might be thinking, "Boulder has a lot of cafes! What sets The Cup apart from everyone else?"

It's true that many of the cafes in town source from free trade coffee farms, and all have great coffee, but there are two things that separate The Cup from the rest.

First, the people. All the people that work there are great. They're funny, really enjoy their work, and, if you become a regular, know you by name. There are a lot of regulars here, including me. They know my drink by heart, although they still ask me what I wish since I do like to mix it up at times. They even know what type of mug I like my drink in.

Second, the mochas. Being a fan of mochas, I tend to judge a cafe by their mocha. And The Cup makes excellent mochas.

They're secret? They use darker chocolate than other cafes. They have a little machine that keeps the chocolate melted and free flowing, right on the bar-top. It looks delicious. It spins around, and around, and around, and... you get the point.

The main reason I like their mochas so much is that it isn't as sweet as all the other cafes out there, including Starbucks.

Now, I have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. I used to be a regular customer until I came to Boulder. I liked their mochas... until I came to Boulder.

The Cup uses a perfect amount of espresso and chocolate to keep either one from overwhelming the other. If you ask for an extra shot of espresso, you can tell that the espresso overpowers the chocolate a bit. Otherwise, the mix is perfect, and it's not overwhelmingly sweet like all the other cafes in Boulder.

Of course, I also have their teas and drip coffee on a regular basis. Furthermore, their Iced Coffee is really good. They have what looks like some fancy alchemical device in the corner of their bar, which drips ice water down through the coffee grounds into a large bottle. This is their Kyoto drip, and apparently it's a Japanese method of brewing coffee, or at least iced coffee.

Either way, The Cup is the place to go during the day, whether for office work, studying, or a quick stop. At night, it quiets down a lot, and the atmosphere is really calming.

The Laughing Goat

The Laughing Goat's atmosphere is the opposite of The Cup's. During the day time, it's calm, collected. There's still quite a lot of people depending on the time of day, but many of them are working on projects or schoolwork.

At night, where the Cup becomes calm, the Laughing Goat starts to amp up. You see, the Goat is not just a cafe. It also has local beer and wines available. This doesn't make the place into a rowdy bar though.

Every night, there are normally at least two bands or performers singing or playing different types of music. Usually it's jazz, but occasionally you'll get someone with a cello on the small corner stage. There's also a piano for anyone to use if they have the talent for it.

Once in a while the staff will clear the floor for people to dance, depending on the band playing that night. I usually have only seen this on Friday nights.

If you're into poetry, the Laughing Goat is the place to go for Monday night poetry. They've been doing it for over 20 years now, without missing a single Monday night. That takes quite a lot of dedication.

The people that work here are kind, although calmer and perhaps not as vibrant as the workers at The Cup. However, this coincides with the mood of this particular shop, what with its dark woods, copper-plated countertops, and interesting artwork.

Oh, and when you enter the Goat, look to your immediate left and behind when you get close to the food display. There's a shrine there. It's funny, and maybe just a little bit creepy.


Both the Cup and the Laughing Goat are located on Pearl Street, near the Pearl Street Mall. The Laughing Goat is also near Valmont and 55th, next to a post office, but I've never been to that location.

That good ol' feeling...

I've been to quite a few cafes in town. Cafe Sole, Amante's, Starbucks... and none of them, in my opinion, compare to The Cup and Laughing Goat. I would probably rate Sole third, but I've only been there once and never returned, simply due to the fact that it's out of the way of my usual route. The others feel too sterile and fake, too "modern" so to speak. I personally like a more homey feeling, and both the Cup and Goat provide that.

If you're in town for a few days, be sure to check out these two places. You won't be dissapointed.


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