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Denver's Best Coffee Shops for Writing: Highlands Cork & Café

A recurring feature on my favorite spots to write in the Mile High City.

· Coffee Shops,Writers Life

When I have a deadline to meet (and I can't stand the inside of my own house anymore), there's only one place I go to write: Highlands Cork & Café on 32nd Avenue.

The Cork & Café has been through a few name changes over the years (remember Café Caliente?) and a rotating assortment of art work has adorned its colorful walls, but its essence has never changed. What makes the Cork & Café my go-to spot for serious writing? As in, buckle down for the five hours it'll take to pound out 5,000 words, serious?

This time, it's all about comfort.

The Space

At Highlands Square, you'll find a whole bouquet of lovely coffee shop options. Cork & Café is one of my favorites: a converted house (built in 1907) with tons of bright colors and French-inspired touches. Nooks and crannies abound, perfect to tuck yourself into and write to your heart's content.

Cork & Café is well known for its gorgeous patio. It's especially picturesque in autumn, when showers of tiny leaves fall to the ground with each gust of wind. But my laptop gets a lot of glare outdoors, so I usually stay inside when I'm writing. My favorite spot is the back room, at either one of the small bistro tables, or (even better) the squashy red couch. I've done some serious writing back there! The big armchairs by the front window are also nice, if I'm in the mood for a street view.

Mighty Leaf tea and a fig & brie grilled cheese sandwich. An ideal working lunch.


If you're hungry for breakfast or a light lunch, there are plenty of offerings here. Think café comfort food. Filling and tasty, but not so overly fussy that it'll distract from your work. If you're staying for an extended writing session, pick up a snack or a fresh drink every couple hours. You'll keep up your stamina, and you'll help fund that free wi-fi.

I usually grab a Mighty Leaf hot tea, or an iced green tea when it's sweltering out. In the afternoon, or if you've brought your writing group along, order a cheese plate and glasses of wine, or Sangria if it's available.


When I really need to focus on drafting, the laid-back, cozy feel of Cork & Café fits the bill. The many rooms and snug proportions make this coffee shop easy to get lost in so my imagination can wander.

Once the morning rush has passed, the white noise dissipates, and individual conversations stand out. People linger here, for pleasure just as often as business. It's a nice place to meet up with neighbors and friends. At times, that makes for some great eavesdropping on the table next to you. For character-building purposes only, of course! But if you're easily distracted, be forewarned.

I also love their music selection. It varies from Carole King folksy, to super modern and electronic-groovy, to old-school French bistro. Obviously I'm no music critic, but it works for me.

Highlands Cork & Café has a wonderful neighborhood vibe. Moms stop in with babies; students study on the patio with their dogs tied up nearby; local business owners meet job candidates for interviews. If you live in Northwest Denver, you never know who you might run into.

Cork & Café​'s charming patio. The plants are a little overgrown; the decor is a touch whimsical. You can practically see the inspiration fairies dancing around in there. Can't spot them? Couple glasses of pinot, and they'll start turning up.

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