If it wasn’t for Mount Sanitas dominating the view from its front window, Beleza Coffee Bar could easily be the lobby cafe of a hip Nicaragua hostel.
A strong jungle-hearth vibe hits you walking in — a feeling wedged between the wooze of two weeks into a backpacking trip and walking into someone’s home for red rooibos tea.
This illustrates exactly what husband-and-wife owners Greg Lefcourt and Nafisa Ramos had in mind when they built the space — a buzzing treehouse with a cozy, globetrotter feel. Beleza, located in the Ideal Market at 2680 Broadway Ave. (where Vic’s Coffee used to be), opened last December 8, designed to express Greg and Nafisa’s personal style and love of travel.
Open seven days a week 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Beleza features espresso, pour-over coffee, snacks and a kitchen. Photo: Taty Sharpton.
Boulder has an abundance of coffee shops, but few offer Beleza’s chill, welcoming, living room feel. That’s one of the inspirations behind the relatively new coffee house. It also joins Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Ozo Coffee in Boulder’s elusive good-espresso club, at least according to our admitted #coffeesnob tastes.
Greg felt the city needed another cafe focused on environment, food and coffee. If you’ve had the chance to visit Beleza midday, Greg’s feeling had merit – it’s packed with lines often trailing toward the door.
Beleza’s philosophy is simple: create a neighborhood hangout that uses coffee as a vehicle for community.
As accidental coffee snobs, we can tell you it has some of the best espresso in town, along with Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Ozo Coffee.
“Beleza (pronounced ‘Bell-ay-za’) is a Portuguese word for ‘beauty’ and in Brazil, is also used as slang to describe a chill vibe or simply to express ‘it’s all good.'”
No ‘mine’ in coffee
Avid travelers, the married coffee lovers saw an opportunity to create a culture of connection, roots, and quality in a different way than any other coffee shop in the area had.
“You know, in Morocco you can be sipping tea on a bench and rubbing shoulders with your neighbor for three hours at a time, and that’s perfectly normal,” Greg says. “That’s why I put in the bigger tables — to pack in the people. I want to see community!”
He sees his vision manifested every day. Beleza has a fluid table structure and seating variety, eschewing the traditional layout of two-tops and personal space.
Greg and Nafisa plotted the layout to encourage interaction, forcing patrons to sit side by side, a cafe style more common in other countries such as Italy and Mexico.
The layout includes two communal eight-person picnic benches, a low-slung, Indonesian-style couch, a variety of multi-person seating in the back and outside area, and a funky wall bar.
Greg has made coffee in Boulder for nearly two decades. He knows what the Bubble wants and the coffee shop features that will drive success.
“There’s no ‘mine’ in coffee,” Greg says. “Collaboration is crucial — the coffee industry is a tight community of professionals. The mentality is definitely one of colleagues over competition.”
From jungle bean to cafe, Greg describes the coffee business as a shared network of information that builds on itself as businesses and people learn more and enjoy its fruits.
To find the best cup of coffee, Greg loves to connect directly with importers to see where their best coffee is going and which roasters are buying it. Then, he will contact the roasters and build relationships from there.
Beleza chose Lakewood, Colorado-based SweetBloom Coffee as its primary roasting partner. Beleza also carries Cat & Cloud Coffee from Santa Cruz, California, and rotates out-of-state providers, build sustainable partnerships and bring variety to Boulder’s palette.
Nafisa and Greg wanted to make a safe, relaxed, happy space where people could come together to socialize and work. Today, the space bustles with a bright, inclusive energy.
Greg’s favorite part about building the shop involves the speed with which the community accepted it. That may not be an accident.
Photo + illustration: Taty Sharpton
“We are pouring positive energy into the place, and I’m a big believer that we get what we give,” Greg says.
Beleza also has a solid food menu. Check out some items on offer below:
- Chia Seed Pudding (Gluten Free)
Coconut milk, chia seeds, Himalayan sea salt, maple syrup, and house made berry compote
- Quinoa Oat Porridge (GF)
Organic quinoa and steel cut oats cooked in coconut milk topped with bananas, blueberries, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, cinnamon and maple syrup
- Beleza Bowl (GF)
Organic quinoa, spinach and sweet potatoes, house made pickled onions, micro greens and chimichurri sauce
- Avocado Toast (among many other kinds of Toasts! Including Salmon and Nut Butter)
Avocado, house made pickled red onions, micro greens, smoked paprika and sea salt
Featured image: Owner Greg Lefcourt (center) with baristas C.J. Blakely (left) and Ethan Martin. Photo + illustration: Taty Sharpton