720 S. Eighth St., 291-6663, kangaroocoffeellc.com
The reach of owners Rue and D.J. Lyon was furthered with the recent opening of their second location on South Eighth Street. Beyond adding another locally owned element to the seemingly ever-improving neighborhood, the double-sided kiosk finally gives area coffee-lovers a drive-thru option. It also offers a thrice-daily "hoppy" hour, in which medium drinks are discounted to $2.
Outside of that, medium lattes like the Mexican Mocha or Hopscotch are $4.25, each made with a three-bean, medium-dark blend roasted in Denver. The former mixes chocolate with cinnamon and nutmeg to create something akin to a delicious Christmas cocoa. (Punch it up with cayenne if you dig.) The latter runs almost too sweet while doing a creamy, butterscotch-hazelnut-vanilla thing. Our ebullient barista burbled with personality, though to the point where we had to remind him of our preference on whipped cream four times. — Bryce Crawford
Copper Kettle Brewing Company
1338 S. Valentia St., Denver, 720/443-2522, copperkettledenver.com
I was super-impressed by a special tequila-barrel-aged version of CK's Mexican Chocolate Stout (around $10.50/bomber) at late August's Rendezvous at the Rock Beer Fest in Castle Rock. So I was elated to learn that Springs distribution of the rightful GABF-gold-winner launched in September, ahead of a brewery expansion that will take CK from three barrels to 15 by spring 2014.
This 7-percent-ABV flagship version, with which I'm absolutely enamored, places powdered ancho, guajillo and habañero chilies with dark-roasted malts, raw cacao nibs and cinnamon, explains owner/brewer Jeremy Gobien, who based the recipe on that of a centuries-old Aztec hot chocolate drink. Its aroma is almost reminiscent of horchata, with vanilla notes (though none is used) and the spices showing up strong, as if someone dropped a Taza Mexican chocolate disc into a stout. A nice back-throat burn leads off the mildly bitter bliss. — Matthew Schniper
East Coast Deli
24 S. Tejon St., 633-4522, eastcoastdeli.net
To start by digressing: Why is Farmer Brothers coffee ($2.29/bottomless) always so miserable? Back on track: I totally get my Jew on at an East Coast Deli lunch, coffee aside, with a cup of matzo ball soup ($3.99), a potato knish ($4.99) and the NY Reuben ($11.99).
I expect the soup not to live up to home cooking and indeed it doesn't, desperately in need of salt and pepper, bearing a weak chicken broth and overall blandness, though the quarter slice from a giant matzo ball is texturally on target. The knish is pretty good, like a compressed wad of grated hash brown beginnings in a doughy casing; a house mustard dip works, but I crave a vinegar treatment of some sort. The Reuben is spot-on, however, on a beautifully buttery, toasted rye loaded with excellent, black-edged, thin-cut pastrami shipped from New York's famous Katz's Delicatessen plus ample melted Swiss, kraut and sauce. Truly exemplary. — Matthew Schniper