Convivio Cafe Offers Coffee and Community to North Denver

By David Sabados

For Convivio Cafe’s coowners Vivian “Vivi” Lemus and Kristin Lacy, the cafe’s name is also its goal: bringing people and communities together.

Convivio Cafe, opening in the Berkeley neighborhood, will be Denver’s first Guatemalan-inspired, bilingual cafe. Lemus, who was born in Guatemala and has lived for decades in the U.S., explained that while Denver has beautiful craft coffee shops, and amazing ethnic food restaurants, they can show the divisions in our community.

Vivi Lemus (left) and Kristin Lacy (right) are the co-owners of Convivio Cafe, opening on 38th Ave.

She said native Spanish speakers aren’t always comfortable with the “special lingo” needed to order in predominantly English speaking coffee shops. At the same time, non Spanish speakers aren’t always comfortable ordering unfamiliar items in predominantly Spanish speaking restaurants. She hopes Convivio can help bridge that divide.

Behind the scenes, social equity is a driving force of their business model. Their coffee is origin sourced, meaning it’s grown and roasted in Central America, which leaves more money in the country of origin and benefits the coffee farmers.

Their tea selection comes from a women owned coop as well. The duo have been selling coffee online and at pop ups for the last two years while getting ready to open the cafe. They found a space at 38th Avenue and Yates Street in a shared building with Enigma Bazaar, which is open later in the day and evenings, creating symmetry between the two businesses.

Lemus’ partner Kristin Lacy, who was born in the U.S. and lived in Guatemala, explained how they came to start a cafe together.

“When Vivi and I met and started talking about this, it came from experiences we had.”

Both had lived in two countries and cultures, both worked in nonprofits, and both loved the slower coffee culture found in Guatemala. When creating a menu, they looked to combine cultures as well. Customers can order champurradas, a slightly sweet biscotti type cookie sprinkled with sesame seeds, scones with traditional ponche flavors (dried fruits and spices), or other light snacks.

If you’re hungrier, check out the antojitos – small plates or appetizers. There’s guacamole tostadas, but different from the style you’ll find elsewhere – there’s no cilantro, jalapeno, or tomato.

There’s also options like black beans topped with pickled vegetables. In addition to the standard menu items, Lemus said they will mix it up with “fun, seasonal drinks and items,” and bring in chefs with varied backgrounds from around Denver.

Convivio is holding a series of small group gatherings and a soft opening for the North Denver community on Sept. 24.

They plan for a full opening, complete with ribbon cutting ceremony, on Sept. 28. The duo is planning to decorate the cafe for the openings with handwoven Guatemalan women’s dresses. Covivio’s normal hours will be 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., six days a week (closed on Tuesdays).

Convivio is located at 4935 West 38th Ave.



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