February 14, 2013

Pekoe Sip House in Boulder, Where Tons of Gluten-Free and Vegan Treats Go with Tons of Teas

By Evan Sandsmark -  

We are no strangers to coffee shops in Boulder that serve gluten-free food. (Happily, it is almost redundant to add “that serve gluten-free food,” as almost all coffee shops in Boulder have at least some gluten-free offerings nowadays.) We stop in to shops around Boulder with almost concerning regularity for a caffeine boost. We offer this biographical admission because it at least partially qualifies us to judge the Boulder coffee-shop scene, and one judgement we have reached is that we love Pekoe Sip House. Nearly every item of food on their menu is gluten-free, vegan, or both, and they offer a dizzying array of beverages, including nearly 100 teas, several wellness drinks, and a selection of coffees and espressos. Basically, if you are fond of consuming liquid, you should be able to find a drink at Pekoe, one that will go nicely with a gluten-free snack.

First, a linguistic point: Pekoe is a “sip house,” and you might wonder, as we did, what exactly a sip house is. It is not a house made with structural insulated panels, as Google suggests. That is, “sip” is not an acronym, but rather “a metaphor for the less hectic,” according to the Pekoe website. It is above our pay grade to determine exactly how a single word like “sip” is a metaphor – after all, metaphors are (as far as we know) composed of parts, with one word or concept figuratively capturing a component of another – but the point is easy enough to discern: Pekoe is a sip house because of its relaxing atmosphere. When people are relaxed, they sip, as opposed to, say, gulp, guzzle, or swig. All of this is well summed up in Pekoe’s three-word motto, which is “Sip. Relax. Enjoy.”

Although there are three locations, the store we tend to visit is located in Steel Yards, the nice development a few blocks north of Barnes and Noble that seems slightly out of place (but not as much as the development that houses Proto’s). This location serves the far eastern section of what one might call the heart of Boulder. There is another location on the CU campus, right in the center of everything, and the third is in the northern section of the city, near Boulder Community Hospital in the Ideal Plaza. (Full addresses are listed below.)

We had the good fortune of corresponding with Pekoe for this article. Drew Cuddhy, the Assistant Store Manager of the Steel Yards’ location, made our lives very easy by compiling a list of the gluten-free and vegan menu items that are available at Pekoe. In a supererogatory act, he even added the source of all these products, and impressively they are all from local vendors. Below the pictures of the snack display (taken from the Steel Yards store) is the list we were sent:


Pekoe 2

Gluten-Free Options:
Chocolate Zucchini Bread from Outrageous
Pumpkin Bread from from Outrageous
Lemon Poppyseed Bread from Outrageous
Gluten-Free Burritos from Breggos
Organic Superfood Brownies from Lenka
Organic Lemony Coconut Bars from Lenka
Pecan Praline Cheesecake from Lenka
Assorted Quinoa Delight bars from Kullku Foods
Assorted Two Mom’s in the Raw bars by Two Mom’s
Breeze Bars from Breeze Bars
Assorted Nut Butter packs from Justin’s
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups from Justin’s
Veggie Go’s from The Naked Edge Snacks
Assorted Noosa Yogurts from Morning Fresh Dairy
Cocomels from JJ’s Sweets
Chocolate Covered Cocomels from JJ’s Sweets
Ritual Chocolates from Ritual Chocolates
Olomomo Flavored Nuts from Olomomo Nut Co

Vegan Options:
Max Bars from Spruce Confections
Chocolate Bars from Ritual Chocolates
Chocolate Discs from Ritual Chocolates
Veggie Go’s from The Naked Edge Snacks
Assorted Quinoa Delight bars from Kullku Foods
Assorted Two Mom’s in the Raw bars by Two Mom’s
Cocomels from JJ’s Sweets
Olomomo Flavored Nuts from Olomomo Nut Co

Careful readers will notice that a few items are on both lists, which obviously means, as simple reflection or a Venn diagram will show, that some products are both gluten-free and vegan. There is a great deal of overlap between the menus of each location, but they won’t necessarily be identical. Regardless, the staff at Pekoe is great and will gladly guide you through their offerings should you have any questions. Also, it is worth mentioning that Pekoe is considering bringing in more gluten-free items from Lenka, and that they are also looking into offering more of Breggos gluten-free products, which are basically miniature calzones, at their stores. Pekoe remains open to customer suggestions too, and this is true of both food and drinks.

Speaking of drinks, Pekoe has a vast selection of them, as mentioned above. Pekoe regards itself as a tea house, so naturally they have a “pretty stellar” (in Cuddhy’s accurate terms) lineup of teas, including blacks, greens, whites, herbals, oolongs, pu-erhs, and yerba mates, allowing you to get anything from a common black tea (e.g., English breakfast) to more exotic concoctions, such as Blue Eyes (a pineapple papaya green tea) or a rich Chocolate Hazelnut Mate, to cite two examples to which Pekoe called our attention. Pekoe also offers four chai teas – House Chai (black), Spicy Green Chai, Mate Chai, and Rooibos Chai (decaf/herbal) – which are all brewed unsweetened, allowing you to add exactly the amount of sweetener you would like. The fact that you can control the sweetness of your chai – an option that falls just short of a human right, although sadly it is not treated as such everywhere – is characteristic of the level of customer control at Pekoe. Pekoe supplied us with the following example of an order: “medium Spicy Green Chai, 70/30 almond milk, light agave, extra hot, in a pint glass.” The “70/30″ refers to percentages – 70 percent chai, 30 percent milk (which ranks as “extra spicy”) – so you can control your drink down to the ratio of chai to milk.

Pekoe also offers four wellness drinks that are only available at their stores, and all but one of them (the Lemon Mintini) can be served hot or on ice. Again, thanks to Cuddhy’s gracious assistance, we have the complete list of wellness drinks:

Gingerly Vanilla – Organic ginger and steamed milk with a hint of vanilla agave
Calm Sensation – Organic lavender and steamed milk with a hint of vanilla agave
Peace of Mind – Organic peppermint tea and steamed milk with a hint of premium white chocolate
Lemon Mintini – Iced organic Morrocan mint with organic lemonade

All these drinks are popular, but the bobas (a.k.a. bubble teas) are particularly popular. The standard boba – a blend of black tea, milk, and sweetener – is traditional, but they also have specialty renditions. The White Strawberry and Caramel-Espresso Bean bobas sound particularly interesting, although there are other options as well.

And finally, Pekoe does have coffees and espressos. Again, Pekoe is primarily a tea house, but they recognize some peoples’ drink of choice, regardless of the universe of options before them, is almost always coffee. Pekoe’s coffee roaster is Coda, which is a Denver-based company with a penchant for social responsibility. The house coffee and espresso sold in Pekoe are proprietary blends (and are therefore only available at Pekoe), and any other Coda coffee on offer is in peak season, of a single source, and often organic.

In short, Pekoe is indeed a great place to “sip, relax, and enjoy.” They have tons of excellent drinks that will suit almost any taste, and they also have a wide selection of gluten-free and vegan snacks to go with these drinks. They recognize that dietary restrictions are a part of life for many of their customers, and so they tailor their offerings accordingly. Pekoe also has a great relationship with their customers, particularly with their regulars, although everyone is welcome to specify their drink orders down to the last detail, and to make recommendations for what they want to see in the store. We visit Pekoe often, and we encourage you to as well.

The Pekoe website can be found at this link:


And the addresses to the three store locations are here:

Ideal Plaza:
1225 Alpine Ave
Boulder, CO 80304

CU Campus:
1125 18th Street
Boulder, CO 80309

Steel Yards:
2500 30th St #100
Boulder, CO 80301

As always, if you would like us to review a particular establishment with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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