Denver Bar Association
July 2011
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The Caffeine Blues, Round Two

by Greg Rawlings, Marshall Snider



e have all heard the expression "the more things change, the more they stay the same." What is true in life is true in coffee. Fifteen years ago, The Docket ran a series of articles on where to find the best coffee in the Denver legal community. The idea was that if you had to go to an early morning meeting, negotiation, or deposition, you may as well choose the government or private law office with the best coffee for your venue. Even better: an office with donuts and sweet rolls.

As a service to yesteryear’s Denver Bar Association members, The Docket sent a crack crew of coffee drinkers, tea drinkers, and people with a sweet tooth or two to law offices, government offices, courtrooms, and even the DBA office to locate the best coffee and treats to accompany that early morning toil in the vineyards of the law. Many offices were proud of their fare and put a lot of effort into that morning joe. One firm even owned a coffee plantation in Hawaii, although we thought that was going a bit too far, literally and figuratively.

Today, it is not necessary for any private enterprise to put that kind of effort into their coffee. Who cares if the firm of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger and McCormick1 can brew a decent cup of coffee when Starbucks, Peet’s, Dazbog, and Peaberry are so prevalent that you can’t walk down most streets without tripping over a sack of coffee beans. Now you can walk into that deposition with whatever premium cup of coffee-like substance your imagination can conjure up. Who cares what they drink at Hungerdunger LLC if you can bring your own half-caf, soy, mocha coconut frappuchino. Why, you could even bring in a cup of regular black coffee, assuming your are some kind of caffeine Luddite.

Sylvester at work at one of the Coffee Etcetera carts he owns.
Sylvester at work at one of the
Coffee Etcetera carts he owns.

The Docket realizes that it has to keep up with the times. With this issue we begin a series of updated coffee reviews, not necessarily at government or private law offices, but wherever that perfect brew can be found. Today’s offering is from Coffee Etcetera, the coffee cart in the lobby of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building, at 303 W. Colfax, across from the City and County Building, at 1437 Bannock St. There is a Coffee Etcetera in the City and County Building as well, but the one in the Webb building is personally operated by Sylvester, the owner of all Coffee Etceteras.

We visited Sylvester in late April. It was obvious that he had a loyal following. As customers came up to the cart Sylvester identified their "usuals," whether it was coffee or one of the many muffins or sweet rolls on hand.

Marshall, who has a bad chocolate problem, tried a decaf mocha. This is a great choice for a chocolate junkie—very rich chocolate, and you can hardly taste the espresso. We had to question the "decaf" part of the offering, however, as this drink, as delicious as it was, left a very jittery aftertaste for the next couple of hours.

As for Greg, he lives for jittery aftertaste—he is a longtime, hard-core caffeine addict. For many years now, Coffee Etcetera has aided and abetted him in his Charlie Sheen-esque dive into the bottomless pit of java-jonesing. First in the old City and County Building and later in the vast atrium of the Webb Building, Greg (or Rocket Man to Sylvester’s son, who used to man the cart between courtrooms 150 and 151), would treat himself to bargain-priced but very well done espressos. Nice crema on top, solid flavor, not too hot and not too cold—a perfect way to end the morning docket or prepare for the afternoon one. And they’re especially good when you get to chat with Sylvester.

Greg has always been jealous of people who can remember other people’s names, kids’ names, favorite teams, personal history—as the son of a preacher who founded a large church and somehow always retained this kind of data (seemingly without trying) and the son of a woman with the closest thing to photographic memory Greg has ever experienced—this has always vexed and perplexed him. Simply put, he’s not that guy. But Sylvester is. And he has a smile that wipes the clouds away. You just feel better, and not just from the caffeine, after spending a few moments with the man.

So, it’s a big thumbs-up for Coffee Etcetera from these coffee house mavens. D


1. Groucho Marx’s lawyers in "Animal Crackers"

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