Leaves, Loaves and Lattes

04 Oct 2023

Autumnal alchemy at Boulder County’s sweetest bakeries

By BRAD WEISMANN

There is something inherently optimistic about a bakery. It’s the warmth when you step inside; the delicious smells wafting in the morning air, awesome-looking assortments to peruse, searching for just the treat to satisfy your carbohydrate craving. It’s the quiet chatter of fellow customers; it’s a cozy corner in which to relax.

The number of bakeries in Boulder County has swelled precipitously in recent years, to the delight of confectionary lovers everywhere. Now, nearly three dozen establishments across the region provide baked goods of every kind, drinks and that necessary “third place” (besides home and work) that serves as a hub of social interaction.

Among the more senior bakeries around is Spruce Confections, in business since 1992, when David Cohen started the business while living in the basement of his best friend’s home.

“I started off with a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon,” says Spruce founder David Cohen. “I didn’t go to school for business or baking. So, I came from that naivete, from not knowing there’s supposed to be a challenge. It’s one big running experiment that I’ve done.”

Cohen began by crafting batches of cookies and selling them, delivering them by hand to local coffee shops. Slow and steady growth (and a steady supply of not-to-be-surpassed scones) led to the outfit supplying local cafes and operating four locations of their own, including the anchor store at 767 Pearl Street. 

“This year we’ll have a bunch of new items starting with our downtown location,” says Cohen. “We’re making a lot of pies this fall. We’ll have a pumpkin theme on two of our breads, a gluten-free and a pumpkin chocolate chip bread.”

Since 2015, the Moxie Bread Co. has made quite a name for itself, too, owing to the uniqueness of its vision and the quality of its products. Centered in Louisville at 641 Main Street, it has grown over the years and developed branches in north Boulder and in Lyons.

The Moxie mission, as articulated by its founder Andy Clark (who passed away, tragically, in November at the age of 46), was the promotion, production and distribution of heirloom grains. Using ethically sourced, organic, unprocessed grain is a hallmark of Moxie’s output. 

Moxie Director of Operations Laura Fessenden says of the growth of the business, “It was kind of accidental. It all started with Andy wanting to put heirloom grains into as many mouths as possible. The mission and vison that Andy had in 2015 is the same now that he’s gone.”

The Louisville location soon turned into a full-service café. Its satellite locations serve not only all the traditional baked goods, but flour and grain as well, for do-it-yourselfers. “We opened the new locations during the pandemic, and we weren’t sure that being there year-round would happen.” Happily, business has been brisk.

As to its range of selections, Fessenden says, “Basically, we think: ‘What goes with bread?’”

Diversification seems to be the key to the various bakeries’ success. In Lafayette, Jeannot’s Patisserie & Bistro (2770 Arapahoe Rd.), run by Julien and Theresa Jeannot, serves not only delicious French pastries but French favorites such as the Croque Monsieur and Quiche Lorraine (brunch is served all day, to the delight of local late risers).

After 20 years baking for others, chef Julien was ready to go into business for himself, one that has prospered over the past year and a half. Well, almost. “The hardest part was I know everything from the back of the house, and my wife knows the front of the house. But the business, how to get a loan, how to deal with contractors and permits? But we did it.”

Another Lafayette fixture, Button Rock Bakery, has experienced exponential growth. A decade ago, it was a modest operation in Lyons. 

“I just hoped, when I first started on the bakery, to craft wedding cakes, cookies and pastries,” says founder and head honcho Jamie Lachel. “Then, when I moved inside Lafayette, I had 7,000 square feet of space. I found I needed to add a ‘hot line.’ Then, two friends of mine who are sushi chefs lost their jobs, so I asked them to come over and create some grab ‘n’ go sushi. We’ve turned into a bodega.”

Wisely, Lachel, delegates the running of these segments of the business to others. “Baking is my primary passion, my personal love,” she says. “I think what we are doing is good, and I think we are lucky.”

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