September 10, 2012

Ozo Coffee of Boulder has an Admirably Large Selection of Gluten-Free Snacks

By Evan Sandsmark -  

We’ve long been fans of Ozo Coffee – they have some of the best coffee in Boulder – so it is a bit perplexing that we haven’t celebrated their extensive lineup of gluten-free snacks before. This is doubly perplexing because these gluten-free options have been available right from the start, when Ozo opened in Boulder in 2007, so it’s not like this is a new development. In any case, Ozo does have tons of gluten-free snacks and treats to compliment your coffee, and that’s the important point, the one we are here to write about. If you are looking for a coffee shop with lots gluten-free food options, definitely give Ozo a try.

Ozo has two locations in Boulder. One store, being located at 5340 Arapahoe Avenue, serves the east side of town. Unless you live in the area, you’ll most likely have to ride a bike or drive to get there; it’s a little out there, physically speaking, and definitely not part of the compact universe of downtown, the Hill, and the university that some people with narrow horizons regard as Boulder proper. Fortunately, there is also an Ozo in this area of town, right in middle of things on 1015 Pearl Street. With these two locations, Ozo can serve a wide range of people from all over townOzo Coffee of Boulder has an Admirably Large Selection of Gluten-Free Snacks.

On a recent visit to the Arapahoe location, we took this picture:

Ozo Coffee

The photo is reasonably clear, and it shows how extensive the prominently featured gluten-free selection is, but it’s hard to make out the details. So, we wrote to Ozo to try to get an exact list of their offerings, and also to ask them a couple of additional questions about their operation.

First, what exactly are Ozo’s gluten-free options? The majority are pastries or other types of sweets, which is to be expected, as these are the types of items that fall firmly within the purview of coffee-shop offerings. Ozo has a number of tea breads offered by Aunt Kay’s and Le Reve. We’d never heard of Le Reve, but we’re familiar with Aunt Kay’s because it is some way linked to (or perhaps even synonymous with) Outrageous Baking, the products of which we’ve tried at other coffee shops around Boulder. (The blog “No Gluten, No Problem” calls Aunt Kay’s “the gluten-free manifestation of the Outrageous Baking Company,” which is a bit confusing in a couple of ways: first, Outrageous Baking only offers gluten-free products, so there is no need for a separate division devoted to GF goods, and two, it’s hard to see how Aunt’s Kay, whatever it may be, is a “manifestation” of a company.) We like their products (especially the Cinnamon Coffee Cake, which is available at Ozo) and they always go well with coffee. Le Reve also supplies tortes and chocolate mint cookies to Ozo, both of which sound great, so we’ll have to give their products a try the next time we come across them. Finally, Ozo has macaroons made by New Moon Bakery, which we also haven’t tried, but hope to soon.

Ozo offers a number of gluten-free bars to their patrons as well, including quinoa bars from Kulu Foods, two bars made by Two Moms in the Raw (yes, that is actually the name of the company, and yes, we think it is questionable from the standpoint of coherence), Bobo’s Oats Bars, and bars from The Better Bar. So, it is likely that there are more bars in Ozo than there are in the state of Utah or an average small town in Wisconsin, the latter of which is no small accomplishment. We’ve tried gluten-free bars before, including those made by Fiona’s Natural Foods and Breeze Bars, but we must admit with a slight tinge of embarrassment that we haven’t tried any of the bars offered at Ozo. (As tireless watchers of the gluten-free scene in Boulder, we thought we had tried just about everything, but evidently not. There is something new under the sun.)

If you don’t feel like a bar or something sweet, Ozo has wonderful fresh oatmeal until about 11:00. At this time, they switch over to two or three soups, at least one of which is always not only gluten free, but vegan too. Finally, if you want something a little more hearty, Ozo has gluten-free burritos made by Breggos. We’ve tried one of these before – they’re all over Boulder, offered at perhaps two dozen or so coffee shops – but not in our capacity as a gluten-free food reviewer, so we can’t link to an article about them. However, we recall them being very good, and we also recall that they are, as advertised, “a meal in one sandwich” (or burrito, or whatever you want to call them – they’re more like miniature calzones than anything).

Why does Ozo have so many gluten-free items available? Most obviously, it is necessary to “HAVE OPTIONS for non-gluten eaters,” emphasized Greg Lefcourt, Ozo’s Director of Retail Operations, in his email to us. Lefcourt is himself on the gluten-free diet, as are several employees. Of course, lots of customers eat gluten-free too, which means there is constant demand for Ozo’s gluten-free goods, all of which sell quite well. It makes good business sense to sell a lot of gluten-free items, and it’s also a nice service to the gluten-free community in Boulder.

No matter how many options Ozo has for gluten-free eaters, they would all be for naught if they didn’t have good coffee. Fortunately, Ozo has very good coffee, something that both our personal experience and their accolades attest to. Ozo has been participating in barista competitions for five years, and Lefcourt, competing as a barista for Ozo, has personally won the Mountain Regional Barista Competition twice. He also competed three times in the United States Barista Championships, and has finished in the top 20 (out of more than 65 participants) in that competition. Ozo knows their coffee, and they will “continue to educate [themselves] to stay a leader in America’s Specialty Coffee industry.”

At Ozo, you get the best that a coffee shop can offer: excellent beverages, and tons of gluten-free food.

Read Next Article » Where to Get Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese in Boulder
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