Name: Dazbog Coffee Company
Location: Denver International Airport, Concourse C, Gate 47
Roaster: Dazbog Coffee Company
Move over Starbucks; now there’s something tastier. Not that Starbucks is known for taste, but they do have that oh so clever marketing savvy. Well, the coffee I just tasted is a serious contender for Starbucks 2.0. It’s a local, rapidly growing chain in the Denver area called Dazbog. They have marketing panache and – here’s the kicker – decent coffee.
I hadn’t actually heard of Dazbog until a few weeks ago while doing my usual pre-trip coffee intelligence gathering. A fairly comprehensive blog (Mile High Buzz) tipped me off to their existence. I added them to the list although I wasn’t optimistic about fitting them into my packed schedule.
That’s when lady luck smiled. Dazbog recently opened a new location at the Denver airport…all the way at one end of concourse C. I usually fly United taking me into concourse B, but this time ended up on Southwest. Not only did I arrive at Concourse C, but my gate was just steps away from Dazbog!
The airport location makes good use of limited space. It has one long counter and no seats. They sell beans and Dazbog schwag in one corner. The walls are decorated with pictures and everything is according to the Dazbog theme. Yes, Dazbog is yet another in a long line of “two guys…” establishments. The two guys this time are two former citizens of the former Soviet Union living out the American dream, capitalizing on post-soviet kitch. They’ve christened their blends with names like “KGBlend,” “Siberian blend” or “Russian Roulette.” They also offer several single origin blends.
I ordered a cup of the brewed Sumatra Mandheling upon my arrival and a cappuccino (made with their White Nights espresso) on my departure. While the Sumatra wasn’t completely fresh tasting (what can one expect from brewed coffee at 2 in the afternoon from the far corners of an airport establishment), it was dark, rich and clean. It was just this side of over-roasted and hit a good although somewhat uncertain, singular note. The cappuccino, made from an automated La Marzocco had a rounded pleasing quality with a deep burst of rich flavored espresso underneath it. The foam was not particularly impressive. I’m curious if a non-airport branch might be a better choice to test the true merits of Dazbog’s coffee.
Don’t get me wrong. Dazbog is not an earth-shattering cup of coffee, but it is slow-roasted in small batches with attention paid to bean selection and brewing quality (freshness at the airport location is not a strength). It’s also reasonably priced at about $10-11 per 12 oz bag. While much of the country is probably ready for the next wave of premium coffee, my suspicion is that most people are not geeked out enough on coffee to spend $30-60/pound, or $4-6/cup for clover-brewed coffee.
Coffee also always has and always will be a functional beverage, which people will want in close proximity to where they live or work. They won’t travel miles out of their way for a cup of coffee no matter how good it is (OK, I might). They also want something better but still close enough to what they know. Dazbog offers non-bitter coffees on the darker end of the spectrum at a rapidly growing number of locations.
There’s also the fact that most specialty roasters that comprise coffee’s third wave, even the big ones like Intelligentsia or Stumptown, have such strict standards on coffee quality that it’s hard to imagine how they could reach a Starbuckian prominence without tremendous sacrifice. Dazbog seems to have already made the sacrifices necessary for world-wide (or at least state-wide) domination.
Finally, I secretly suspect that many fanatics out there (I speak for myself here) secretly don’t want to loose our status as coffee geeks, which would inevitably happen if we woke to find Stumptown on every corner and a populace suddenly enlightened to all things coffee. A place like Dazbog is the perfect solution; they bring improved coffee to the masses but let us keep the really good stuff for ourselves.
Dazbog is not alone. Coffee People in Portland (owned by Diedrich, which ironically used to fill several Dazbog store locations), for example, may be similarly poised as a contender in the next great coffee race. So even if Dazbog is not the next Starbucks, something like it probably will be.