Stronger than espresso: Local business continues tradition of giving free coffee to first responders despite economic hardship

Front Range Courage

DENVER (KDVR) — Small businesses, including locally owned restaurants, have had to adapt in the times of COVID-19. Many are adjusting menu offerings or changing hours, doing everything possible to keep the doors open. Despite the economic hardships, The Bardo Coffee House is doing everything they can to continue their commitment to the community. 

According to owner Chris Graves, coffee houses have the ability to be a center for the community.

“It’s the type of place that is a third space. It’s a place you go to…it’s not work, it’s not home. It is a place you feel comfortable in…you feel like it is yours,” said Graves. 

The usually packed coffee house has felt empty since the stay-at-home order went into effect, but Graves knew he couldn’t close the doors.

“My customers, my regulars, the community…they need to know that they can stop by still and get that cup of coffee,” Graves said. “At least there is still some aspect of normalcy.” 

That normalcy means being the only coffee house on the block open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Those hours are important, especially for the first responders who have become regulars. 

Since The Bardo Coffee House opened in 2010, it has been providing free coffee and discounts to first responders. It’s a tradition Graves wants to maintain.

“Here are these people that probably do not get paid enough. And yet, they go into stuff, things, places where normal people move away from. We move away from these things in horror. They go straight to it. Now, with so much uncertainty going on right now, they are still doing it. They are still doing their job, and I just like to be able to support that,” he said.

The Bardo Coffee House, with locations in in south Denver and Wheat Ridge, plans to keep the doors open and the tradition alive long after COVID-19. 

If you are interested in making a donation to support The Bardo Coffee House’s tradition of providing free coffee to first responders, you can do so through its website

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