Zendo: Art and Espresso To The Next Level

“We are passionate about two things-coffee and people. We strive to make the perfect cup any way that you like it, while creating a space for the community to come together.” – Zendo

by Colorado Coffee Zine

Zendo is a place where you walk in and you feel an immediate inner chaos…in a good way. Everything is energizing and stimulating, the customers, the staff, the art on the walls, the anchored furniture, the suspended furniture, the light…writing about the way Zendo makes you feel won’t get you anywhere in the traditional article format,  so please forgive the Zine for giving up on that from the get go.

This espresso bar – art gallery, is a place that 30 people will recommend you go to if you mention “coffee” in Albuquerque or even in Santa Fe. And that is how the Zine came upon it, by word of mouth. Customers love this place so much, that the moment you step in as an out-of-towner wearing your dumbounded obviousness on your sleeve, people are still recommending it to you… and you’re literally already there.

“Its just a super nice place to hang out…its energized and relaxed, you can come here and be in your own world, but you can also come have a conversation” said Jess who loves the space with its mixture of communal tables and individual tables. She’s been a Zendo regular since it first opened in 2013 and her favorite drink at Zendo is the mocha (shout out to Jess).

This Summer Zendo will be entering is 4th year. Without being in your face or poshy, Zendo doubles as an art gallery and rotates to a new artist almost every month. The mixed-use space creates harmony between these still pieces of art and all of the people hanging out around it. Zendo presents new work by holding official artist introductions during the evening of the launch, offering locals a chance to interact with the artist and gain a better understanding of the work they’ll be surrounded by for the next month.  Customers can also lounge outside in the ample patio space shared with neighbor Sidetrack Brewing Co.

Zendo primarily works in the tradition of rotating the coffee among various roasters rather than roasting themselves. Some familiar favorites include Colorado based roasters Middle State and Commonwealth as well as Southwest cousin Cartel Coffee. The menu is large and in charge, referring to the wide range of creative in-house originals, or signature beverages like Golden Milk and Zia Latte. A first pass leaves you stumped, what’s good here? But its clear from the buzzing that any drink from this well oiled machine will be worth it.

Speaking of machines, someone you can barely see, but you can certainly hear, is working levers and pulling shots on a gorgeous, polished vintage espresso machine. This person has eyes on the back of their head, unparalleled peripheral vision, and a voice that resonates through all the other sounds.

She is Pilar Westell, owner of Zendo. What is most surprising, second only to having witnessed one of the most engaged owners I’ve ever seen in full action, is how well the team behind the counter, at one point 4 people, each transfer tasks seamlessly to eachother without apearing the slightest bit disrupted or flustered. Meanwhile, they are all engaged in warm conversations with a familiarity you can only find in a place where everyone grew up together and maintains strong ties. Much later, after speaking with the team a bit and Pilar herself, I found this was indeed the case. Not only is everyone treated like friends and family, many of them literally are friends and family, some boasting 10+ years of mischief together in the state dubbed the Land of Enchantment.

Zendo is unique and will offer everyone something different. Whether you’re on the road from Colorado or a local just a few cities away, Zendo is worth the drive.